Tony a native of the Netherlands was a true example of all that is good, pure, loving and holy. His legacy will carry on in the generations he created, the horses he bred, and the family and friends who loved and looked up to him. He proved 80 was the new 60, and it was his sense of adventure and travel that brought him to Alaska where he continued to live his life to the fullest until the moment God chose to bring him home.
While on a fishing trip in Alaska, a small plane operated by the Rainbow King Lodge Fishing Camp crashed in Ilimana, Alaska. Among the three of seven passengers who were killed was Tony De Groot, of Hanford, California, owner and founder of DG Bar Ranch. With a 24-hour dairy farm, and a large breeding program for Dutch horses, DG Bar Ranch is a one of a kind family owned and operated horse facility that is a part of American legend in dressage.
A deeply religious family, it was well known that when they hosted the ever-popular Dressage competition at DG Bar, the show was over on Saturday, as Sunday was a day of rest and worship.
DG Bar Ranch has shared their facilities with the Californian Dressage community, as well as hosting events for the Royal Dutch Warmblood Association of North America, as well as the Friesian Horse Association. For many years DG Bar hosted a dressage show that drew up to 1,000 entries and running 8 rings. 2007 was the last year for the shows, but DG Bar continues to host events and provide demonstrations.
I was fortunate one year to have travelled to Hanford in my RV from Florida one year to photograph the show. As we were camped on the grounds each day brought to birth of a new foal. The warmth of the De Groot family was evident in every element of the show. But it was the competitors’ party held in the huge dairy equipment barn that to this day has been my absolute favorite of all time.
With tables and chairs in the lofts and on the ground floor, a band, great food, fun and the biggest strawberries I have ever seen in my life, the parties they held each year are now historic.
I recall a conversation I had with Tony as I was making an ice cream Sunday where cartons of all kinds of ice cream flavors were set on the back of a huge flat bed trailer. The ice cream was reportedly made from the milk and cream form the DG Bar Cattle. I asked Tony how they were able to create so many different flavors and he replied, without missing a beat; “Well Mary, that is because we have a vanilla cow, a chocolate cow and strawberry cow and more.”
The family all share a deep religious faith, which will now help them through this time. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years Betty, their 5 children, Ingrid Hamar, Elizabeth Veenendaal, Tamara Majors, Tony De Groot Jr. Will De Groot, and multiple grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as long time associate and soul mate at DG Bar, Willy Arts.
His granddaughter Ashlyn De Groot posted a loving tribute today on her Facebook Page.
"Yesterday, we lost an amazing man. It doesn't seem real. Opa, we will miss you so, so much. I will forever be grateful for the amazing example you have given me of what love is. Your love for Oma, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and most of all, the Lord, was seen by all. You taught me what hospitality looks like and how to make everyone feel like they are at home. You loved living and put your whole heart into the things you did even when the going got tough you, found strengths in the Lord to continue on. I'm going to miss the smell of fresh bread and cookies while I'm riding by the cafe. I'm going to miss you kicking us out of the kitchen while you're cooking, and the way you and Oma would tease each other. I'm going to miss your smile and laughter. I love you, Opa! I know you’re in a better place now! We are only a breath on this Earth; you are in your forever home now! You will be missed!
Thank you to all those that have been praying and thinking of us. It means a lot to know how many people loved Opa."
"My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:7-8