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Oct. 20, 1927 – Jan. 6, 2021
Roma Orvis obit pic
Roma (Porter) Orvis was born October 20, 1927 in Pomona, California to Jay and Luella Porter. She lived in Southern California (Pomona, LaVerne, Glendora) before moving north to Oakland, then Stockton, and eventually to Redding in her high school years, following her dad who worked for the US Forest Service. She attended the College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific) from 1946 to 1950 where she studied music. There she met the love of her life, a rancher and football star named Bruce Orvis, and never looked back. They were married January 23, 1949 at Morris Chapel on the College of Pacific campus during their winter break and spent their honeymoon skiing at Mt Hood. After moving every few years throughout her childhood, she eventually settled into 70 years of ranching life on the Orvis family ranch (Snow Ranch) outside of Farmington, CA.
Music was very important to Roma throughout her life. She sang in choir during college. She sang in the Farmington Methodist church choir throughout her entire life where she eventually became choir director and remained as such until one year ago. She sang at numerous family and friends’ weddings and funerals. Her voice was beautiful and never faltered or diminished as she aged. She also played piano and accordion. She loved all kinds of music from symphony and opera to big band and the Beatles. Roma and Bruce were involved in the founding of the Bear Valley Music Festival and rarely, if ever, missed its summer time festival over its 50+ year existence.
Although music was her passion, Roma found she had a knack for numbers and accounting. Shortly after college, the newlyweds returned to help run the family cattle ranch. Roma discovered that Bruce did not have the patience for keeping the ranch books. He did it, because he had to, but preferred to be out on the range with the cattle. Roma took over the ranch books and eventually took accounting classes at the local junior college. Her aptitude with bookkeeping expanded to also include the local water district, a water company and development company in Bear Valley, as well as the Farmington Methodist Church.
In the process of all this accounting and singing, she had four children: Bill, Bruce, Scott and Bridget. In addition, while the kids were growing up, husband Bruce decided to try his hand at mountain resort development and founded the high sierra village of Bear Valley and the Mt. Reba ski area. While Bruce spent most of his time in Bear Valley, Roma traveled between Bear Valley and Snow Ranch, keeping the kids in school during the week and being with Bruce on the weekends, holidays and summers. It was a hectic time for her but somehow, she made it work. While it did not make them rich, Bruce and Roma had a lasting impression on the mountains by creating the high sierra town of Bear Valley and “doing it right.”
Later in life, they moved back to the ranch, and returned to cattle ranching fulltime maintaining a line of Hereford cattle that goes back over a hundred years. A difficulty then was that none of their children wanted to be ranchers. They all ended up as scientists, engineers, water company managers and missionaries among other occupations. Roma and Bruce brought in a cousin’s family, Don and Susan Harper, to run the ranch. As Bruce passed in 2010, Roma continued to do the bookkeeping for the cattle company while the Harpers maintained the purebred Herford herd and turned the ranch into one of the premier grass fed beef producers in northern California.
Roma passed on January 6, 2021 leaving behind four children, 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Memorial services will be scheduled at a later date.
In Roma’s memory, please consider donations to:
Farmington United Methodist Church, PO Box 6, Farmington, CA 95230
Bear Valley Music Festival:
“Bruce Orvis Endowed Athletic Scholarship” at University of the Pacific c/o Advancement Services, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Bannister Hall, Stockton, CA 95211.

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

The Riverbank (Calif.) News

Feb. 3, 2021