SHERIDAN — His footsteps followed those of his German and Italian ancestors who immigrated to the coastal shores of the United States for a new life. And like many who settled along the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, and his own family before him, Ken Stubaus kept moving west until he landed in Sheridan.
Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Stubaus is the second youngest of nine boys. He left school after eighth grade to help support the family. It was an era when men could find a job without the benefit of a high school diploma.
“It’s also what I had to do,” said Joe Bickens, Stubaus’ uncle also of Sheridan. “I had to leave grade school to go to work to support the family.”
Stubaus first went to work sanding pipes in a pipe factory in Jersey City.
“It was the pipes you smoke, not plumbing pipes,” Stubaus said.
A 22-year career in housekeeping for St. Ann’s Nursing Home followed before retiring. Asked if he felt that he had to overcome any particular challenges in life, the soft-spoken Stubaus says no. Bickens agreed.
Stubaus retired and moved to Sheridan after a stay with a brother in Texas. Some of his New Jersey family had moved to Sheridan, including Bickens. Stubaus had visited family here over the years and was familiar with the area.
Stubaus didn’t waste time embracing Sheridan.
He enjoys grabbing family and friends to join him for the summer concerts in Kendrick Park and the WYO Theater New Vaudevillians and horror film series. Last week, Stubaus participated in his second Sheridan Rodeo Week Boot Kickoff.
“I learned from (the year before) that I need a bigger size boot,” Stubaus said.
Movies at Centennial Theatres and dinner with family around town are fun for Stubaus, but he has also embraced his new Sheridan home on another level. Stubaus brought with him a passion for volunteering at thrift stores.
Someone had suggested to Stubaus to register at the Sheridan Senior Center when he had turned 60. The volunteer registrar talked with Stubaus about volunteering. He was intrigued with the center’s launch of a thrift store and jumped in to help at the Green Boomerang then on Werco Court. He was one of the key players in helping the store move to its current location on Main Street.
Today, Stubaus is a steady and regular volunteer for the Sheridan Senior Center’s Green Boomerang. He treats his time at the Green Boomerang like a job.
“Ken is one of these people who is always there to help,” volunteer Mae Dean Reed said. “He’ll ask me what he can do to help even before I have a chance to ask him.”
Stubaus brings his strong sense of duty to the group in not only his fun times but also to his volunteerism.
“He’s there six days out of the week,” said Amanda Munford, Green Boomerang manager. “He helps with recycling and cleans the store on Tuesdays. He likes being part of our family we have.”
Stubaus jumps in to help in every department in the shop and it is known among his fellow volunteers that he knows every thrift store in town. If they need something from one of the other stores, Stubaus is the go-to man.
“He is a quiet giant with a gentle spirit of caring,” said Terri Hayden, director of volunteer services for the Senior Center.
Stubaus has extended his Sheridan family to include his fellow volunteers.
“It’s fun to work with everybody,” said Stubaus. “Everybody here at Green Boomerang is nice and nice to work with.”
At the at fun events around Sheridan or while he is volunteering, Stubaus has embraced Sheridan fully.