Rod F. Pringle, Jr. passed away quietly in his home, at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch, on Nov. 28. He was 90 years old.
Rodrick Fields Pringle, Jr. (Rod) was born Aug. 6, 1928, in Houston, Texas. His parents were Rodrick Fields Pringle, Sr. and Maude (Winslow) Pringle. Rod attended Milby High School in Houston, where he excelled in academics and athletics. His senior year he helped lead the Milby football team to its first city championship with over 22,000 fans in attendance. After graduating in 1946, he received a scholarship to attend Rice Institute (University), graduating in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education. Rod accepted a position as Assistant Physical Director at the newly built East End YMCA in 1956, moving up to Physical Director in 1958.
One of the highlights of those years was an annual trip to Canada. Rod and volunteer staff would drive a school bus from Houston full of eager young men for a two week wilderness canoe trip through the Canadian lakes.
Rod met Junelle Sims in 1956. They were married at the Broadway Church of Christ that year and celebrated their 62nd anniversary this year.
In the summer of 1961 Rod learned that Monarch Baseball Camp, located at Waunita Camp and Resort near Gunnison, was for sale by owners Carl and Janet Bolin. After visits to the property in November and December, Rod, Junelle and their three sons, ages seven months, two and four, moved to Waunita in March 1962.
With his background at the YMCA and working with kids, Rod was hired to teach Physical Education in the Gunnison School System in 1966, spending four years teaching at all levels. Rod and Junelle were always looking to help and mentor youth. Hardly a year went by when the Pringles did not have someone living with them at the ranch, including two years of fostering up to eight boys on parole from the Colorado State Reformatory.
After five years of upgrading, they were accepted as members of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association in 1967, beginning Waunita Hot Springs Ranch. They then began offering all-inclusive vacations, eventually hosting guests from all 50 states and 10 foreign countries. After adapting the geothermal resource to heat the guest accommodations, they also began accommodating winter groups.
In 1982 Rod was elected to the CDGRA Board of Directors and he served as President of that association in 1986. In 1993 he and Junelle were chosen as Honorary Lifetime Members of CDGRA. Rod is also an honorary lifetime member of the Colorado Guide and Outfitter Association. Waunita is now primarily operated as a vacation rental for groups and retreats.
Rod was preceded in death by his parents, Rodrick and Maude Pringle, and his brother, John Pringle. He is survived by his wife, Junelle, and three sons, Rodrick Scott (Elisabeth), of Abilene, Texas; Weston Royce (Kari) of Tulsa, Okla.; and Ryan Keith (Tammy) of Gunnison, as well as seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Leonard Pringle of Houston, Texas.
Rod enjoyed sports, hunting, old Western movies, reading, visiting with guests and being with his family. During Rod’s years at Waunita he was a faithful Christian and member of the Gunnison Church of Christ. He served as an elder for the church during the 1990s and the 2000s. He was a Godly influence on many, including thousands of ranch guests, ranch staff, family and friends. He will be missed by all!
A memorial service is scheduled to be held at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Gunnison Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, we ask that friends donate to Gunnison Valley Health Home Medical Services (Hospice), Mountain States Children’s Home in Longmont, Colo., or another charity of their choice.