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The Lazy T Crazy T cattle brand of our neighbour, from the Nebraska Cattle Brand Book, because images from the Nebraska government cannot be embedded at Daily Kos.

Hundreds of cowboys, ranchers, and farmers descended today on the Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport, Nebraska for a lifetime resident rancher’s funeral. They came from Wyoming, from Colorado, and from all over Nebraska to pay last respects.

This marks the fifth death in a village of 128 people in four weeks.

More below the orange tumbleweed.

He was a past member of the Broadwater School Board and a current member of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. His wife is a current member of the Broadwater Public Library Board and Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

Amongst the sea of cowboy hats, boots, spurs, and leather vests, I was definitely out-of-place in a suit, bowtie, Gold Star Family lapel button, and fedora. Even our Smart car was out-of-place amongst the sea of farm and ranch vehicles.

Nevertheless, Fred and his wife are Beth’s and my neighbours; Beth is the library director, and I am a village trustee and veteran myself. We’d visited Fred last Friday evening, hours before he passed away: his last non-family visitors.

Fred served in the US Army as a Spec 4, drafted in the Fifties for the Occupational Army of Germany. He served in Munich; he also married his wife there. He was accorded full military honours, attended by two West Point cadets, and with firing squad and “Taps.”

After he left the Army in 1964, Fred ranched and raised quarter horses twenty miles east of Angora, or twenty miles northeast of Broadwater. He rode the trail yearly to drive herds to the Angora BNSF railhead. He retired from ranching in 2009; he and his wife moved into Broadwater.

At the graveside, he was also attended by the cowboy version of the “missing man” formation by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association: three horses, two with riders, and one with an empty saddle. Amongst cattlemen, there is camaraderie much like that of the military.

That makes five funerals in four weeks. This has been a hard month for Broadwater: a Korean War vet, our village clerk, the vet’s wife, the previous owner of our home, and now Fred. That is too many funerals in too short a time.

Originally posted to Village Vet on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 11:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by IGTNT Advisory Group and Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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