How to be a Winner


I remember when Dad taught me to drive the truck. We were spraying weeds in the pasture and he would sit on the tailgate with a sprayer. I would try as hard as I could not to pop the clutch and bounce him off into the grass. He didn’t get upset though he’d laugh, climb back on the tailgate, and say ‘go a little easier on the clutch this time!’.

It wasn’t just his patience; he was also dedicated to us kids. I can’t begin to guess the hours he spent helping with our outside interests. He volunteered to help at all the Sooner Saddler horse shows. He instilled in us our love of animals. He also taught us to try our best every time we rode into the arena.

Not only did he volunteer for Sooner Saddler shows, he volunteered for Little League Baseball as well. He had patience with all the kids on the team, including Bill who would chase grasshoppers instead of fly balls in the outfield.

Dad was a true environmentalist. He loved the mountains as well as his beloved flint hill prairies in Kansas. He never missed an opportunity to explain to us the geology of the area. To this day, as we travel we have to look at every road cut to study the rock “strata“. We always come home with a pocket full of rocks from wherever we went. His love was not just confined to minerals, he loved animals too. From his horses and cattle to the old coyote that roamed the ranch, Dad knew that everything had it’s own place in the grand scheme of things. That is the way he lived his life. It didn’t matter if you were a rancher or banker, waitress or lawyer, he treated each person as an individual. As with the horses and in live, you always gave me a leg-up and I thank you for that.

Jean loved the Flint Hills of Kansas and tried to indoctrinate anyone who would listen, about their beauty. He often told stories about the Cottonwood River and his ole’ swimming hole- where all the boys went swimming as he said “ Naked as a jay bird”.

He loved a practical joke and enjoyed telling one of his many funny, embellished stories. Jean car pooled to work in Houston with Doc Tague, Dan Houston and Bob Hart. Doc Tague was a city boy, and university professor from back east, and knew little about mechanics. Jean, Dan and Bob convinced Doc Tague to take his brand new car back to the dealer because the transmission didn’t make a “klunk” when shifting gears.

He may not of shown much affection to his children but when the chips were down he was the first one there. His grandchildren and great grandchildren were a special joy to him.

We are all here as a family, which is the most important thing. As Dad always said, ”If the family unit fails, so will the nation.”

Open letter from a son-in-law:
The first time I met Jean he eyed me somewhat skeptically. I had long hair, a beard, worked at a ski area and was dating his “second” daughter. As time went by though, we discovered we had a lot more in common than either of us would have imagined. We both loved the mountains, tall grass prairies, good horses and of course his “second daughter”. Holidays would find the ”girls” gathered around the kitchen table talking while Jean and I would sit in the living room discussing the merits of foundation bloodlines vs. the modern, more “specialized” performance horses of today. Regardless of whether it was horses, cattle, best grass to plant to improve my pastures, or his “second “ daughter, we always found something to talk about.

Jean was that kind of person. It didn’t matter if he was talking to a farmer or rancher, stock broker or geophysicist , he connected with people at their level.

Your Saddle Pal, Danny

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