Roy Roadifer

“Learn to Fly”
Words and music by Mike Linderman
with Mrs. Bradeen’s 4th Grade Class
©2010 Mike Linderman




      Roy Roadifer

I wasn’t a good student when I was in my youth
My only goal was getting through another year of school
I had a dream of flying and once jumped off of a roof
My brothers and I used a sheet for a parachute

I left high school to join with the Marines and I was proud
To serve my country in the war but glad when I got out
Working with a survey crew I found geology
And got a job with Mobil Oil when I got my degree

Education is the best thing and not just for the money
The more you learn the more you can appreciate your life
Work at everything so as to learn it well
Make your dream come true and learn to fly
Make your dream come true and learn to fly

During my career I’d map geology
Of the mountains and the desert and underneath the sea
I explored for gas and what I liked about my work
Was to figure out what can’t be seen deep inside the earth

Except for Russia I’ve been almost everywhere on earth
But we moved back to Custer when I retired from work
My childhood dream came true I finally learned to fly
But now I have a plane, it’s not a sheet this time


We never get better comparing to somebody else
We only get better by improving on ourselves


Roy Eldon Roadifer was born in Weston County, Wyoming on October 18th, 1926. He was the fourth of six children. When asked about his childhood, Roy replied, “it wasn’t always easy.” His dad had various jobs and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. One of his favorite memories from his childhood was when his older brother would read the “funnies” from the newspaper to him. Roy was an adventurous child. He had a dream to become a pilot. He pole-vaulted with his older brothers and he also broke his leg when he was just 2 years old.

Roy’s family moved to Custer and he attended both Custer Elementary and Custer High School. His favorite subject was mathematics. He was a center on the Custer Wildcat football team. He worked at the local theater and in mines during his high school years. He met his future wife, Ramona, at Custer High School as well. He left for the Marine Corps as a selected service volunteer in 1944, only 18 years old, before he graduated from high school.

During his time in World War II Roy served in Okinawa, North China, and the Pacific Islands. His favorite part about being in the Marine Corps was serving our country, which was a great honor to him. He served for 2 years during 1944 to 1946. His older brother was serving at the same time in the Navy, and unfortunately was killed on June 24th 1945. His least favorite food is Spam because they made him eat it a lot while he was serving. He was happy to come home. When he returned to Custer he discovered the school had saved his diploma.

After returning, Roy got a job with the United States Geological Survey working as a sample collector. Roy married his wife, Ramona, on November 16th, 1947. They later had 3 children together. His employer encouraged Roy to attend college. He spent one semester at SDSU and then enrolled in South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, SD. He earned a degree in geological engineering and was offered a job with Mobil Oil. He worked with Mobil Oil from 1954 to 1986 exploring for gas. Roy spent two years mapping the geology of the Sahara Desert. During his last six years of work he served as chief geologist. He states he enjoyed being a geologist because you can find things under the earth that we can’t see. At his retirement party, Roy stated that he wouldn’t trade his career with anyone.

Traveling has been a large part of Roy’s life. He has visited all 50 states, Africa, all the countries in Europe, and many other places. His favorite place to visit is San Diego, CA. Flying in his Cessna is also a passion of Roy’s. He received his pilot’s license on November 13th, 1983. He once crashed his plane on an icy runway, but nobody was hurt. He claims the most interesting part of flying is understanding what the weather is going to do and the landing.

These days Roy stays busy chopping wood for his stove. He also serves on the Rotary and was president for Rotary International from 2009-2010. He spends time visiting his three children and his 6 grandchildren. When we asked for some advice Roy stated, “Do what your teacher tells you, work at everything so you learn everything well, and the best thing you can get in life is an education.” The philosophy he lives by is that you don’t ever get better by comparing yourself to someone else; you only get better by improving yourself. We enjoyed learning from you, Roy. Thanks for sharing!

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