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Saturday, June 2, 2012

My friend Chuck.

A Cowboy is a person who will do anything for money as long as it has to do with horses and cattle.

A Buckaroo is a person who will do anything for money as long as it has to do with horses.

A Wrangler will do anything for money.

Chuck was a Wrangler.

Back in the old days wranglers were teenage boys that were hired on cattle drives to handle the string of horses. (I use the term correct term of string instead of herd because Chuck would have been offended by the word herd.) These were tough, scrawny kids who knew horses and could really handle them. They were poor with shabby cloths, hand me down hats and spurs handed down from their father.

When Chuck showed up at Black Mountain in 1988 he did not look like a wrangler from the past. He looked like he came out of a box. He had his red stovepipe boots, a blue slicker, and a new white hat. He had a moustache that a cat could lick off. Sam and I looked at him and thought there is a cocky kid. But Chuck was the one wrangler and cowboy who could back it up. Chuck was great with horses, great with people, and a pretty fair plumber.

Today being a wrangler is about taking care of dudes on a dude ranch vacation.

The word dude is defined as “a person who doesn’t know anything”. Chuck took care of his dudes with patience and thoughtfulness. He didn’t just take people on trail rides. He taught them about horses, riding and the cowboy way.

There is an old cowboy saying “Ride for the Brand”. A ranch’s brand is it’s trademark, and it represents pride, duty and stewardship for the ranch. When a cowboy signed on with an outfit he was honor bound to protect the ranch property, livestock and even defend the ranch owners. Chuck understood this and lived by it.

Chuck was not just good with horses and guests he was also a mentor to his staff. Chuck taught them how to handle horses, how to work and how to take care of guests. He didn’t like foolishness. If you didn’t brush a horse right or put a saddle away properly Chuck had a way of looking at you that let you know he wasn’t having it. Chuck didn’t like foolishness but he did like fun. Chuck would dress up as the clown at the rodeo, have a Bush beer or two with the wranglers and even was known to wear a dress at the talent show.

I have known a lot of wranglers and Chuck was the best. He and I only rode together for 3 years but we have been friends for 24 years. After Black Mountain he and I went in separate ways and work on different ranches.

Lisa and I moved to Cody a little over a year and a half ago. At that time Chuck was not riding any more. Chuck asked me to take care of his horse Rowdy. Rowdy was born at Black Mountain. 23 years later I am proud to take care of Chuck’s horse.

Last night Amy, and Rob were sitting with Lisa and I talking and telling stories about Chuck and Kerry and the kids. Rob made the point that it was not coincidence that we moved to Cody at a time when Chuck and his family needed some extra friends. Maybe God does have a plan for us. We are very thankful to have had the time to spend with Chuck and Kerry, Ethan and Eli.

Chuck was a great Wrangler, friend, father and husband. I am proud to have been his friend and I will miss him. Chuck will always be remembered at my fire.