Samuel Ted Thomas: 1931-2015
May 27, 2015
Ted Thomas, lifelong cattleman and strong supporter of the purebred cattle industry, died May 24, 2015. He was 84.
Born in Osage County, OK, April 22, 1931, Ted grew up around some of the best Hereford cattle of the day.
He graduated from Cotopaxi High School, Cotopaxi, CO, in 1950. While there, he became active in 4-H, showing the Grand Champion Steer at the Colorado State Fair in 1950, before heading to Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture.
While in college, Ted was President of the Livestock Club and active in the Rodeo club. He was a member of the national champion livestock judging team. He was a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and ranked third nationally in calf roping. He was also a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC.)
After college, he worked for Full-O-Pep Feeds and the Quaker Oats Co., before being called to active military duty.
Following military service in the Army, he was the merchandizing manager of the Flowing M Cattle Company, Roggan, CO. After their dispersion, he went to work for the Record Stockman in 1960, where he worked with purebred and commercial cattle breeders in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
In 1962 he became a field representative for the American Hereford Association, guiding seed stock producers in their herd management, sales and marketing. While there, he launched the first junior Hereford associations, in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana. Ted crafted the 'field day' model, combining judging contest, education, fellowship and fun for youth and their families, and state-wide events with well over 1,000 participants became the norm in the heyday of the Hereford breed.
In 1968, he took over management of Wyoming Hereford Ranch, Cheyenne, under the ownership of the Nielsen family, and remained there until the cowherd was dispersed in 1976. While there, he strengthened the genetics of the famed breeding program, winning Grand Champion Carload of Bulls at the National Western Stock Show, Denver, among other champion and grand champion bulls and females at registered Hereford shows throughout the Rocky Mountain Region.
From WHR, he returned to livestock industry publication work, with the Dakota Farmer and then the Western Livestock Reporter, Billings, MT and then the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, Casper, WY, while developing a seed stock consulting and order-buying business. In 1991, he expanded to offer financial planning services, specializing in protecting the ranching industry.
Ted was a nationally-recognized show cattle judge, walking the lines at the Dixie National Livestock Show, as well as other Hereford events. He served on regional and national boards for the livestock industry, including the Wyoming Fair Board Advisory Council, and was a guide and mentor to many who have risen to prominence in the livestock industry.
He remained a competitive calf-roper through much of his career, and enjoyed steer roping, then steer stopping, as his knees, and his horses, grew older. His last trophy buckle was from the 1997 Don King Memorial Steer Roping.
In 2001, after being widowed a second time, Ted reconnected with his high-school sweetheart, Donna Squire Garrett, at their 51st school reunion. They married in January, 2002.
He is survived by his wife, Donna, Canon City, CO; daughter Debora Hood, Canon City; granddaughter Autumn Steinert, and a great-grandson, Covington, OK; blended-family members Vicki and Eddie Graves, Boise, ID; Val and Julius Romero, Brush, CO; Paul and Laurel Garrett, Cotopaxi, CO; Andrea Skubal, Pueblo, CO; Jody and Harry Love, Loveland, CO; Jacquie and Sam Whitney, Wheatland, WY; Jana and Oscar Erickson, Riverton, WY; 11 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Georgia Pappan Thomas; and wives Mary Ann (Mickey) Martin Thomas and Jean Chasteen Thomas.
Memorial celebrations will be June 3, 1:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 802 Harrison Ave., Canon City, CO 81212; and June 5, 2 p.m. at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, 4610 Carey Ave, Cheyenne, WY 82001. Inurnment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites contributions to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, or to a charity of the donor's choice.