A Cowboy’s Faith: Early start to longevity

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Passing his farmhouse nearly every morning Monday through Friday, 6:30 to 7:15, for 48 years, he was always up working.

“Returning home, each of those days he was still going strong every afternoon 5:15 to 5:45.”

In the past month, his car wasn’t always in the garage, morning lights weren’t on, he wasn’t apparent at work.

Then the story was printed in the hometown weekly, personal hero Leroy Fechner passed away at 95 years of age.

At such admirable maturity passing probably shouldn’t be too unexpected but the news sent cringing recoil.

The lifelong bachelor cattleman, former renowned quality seed stock breeder merchandizer, conservation-minded crop grower, most ambitious, twinkling-eyed farmer seemed insurmountable.

One felt he’d surely live forever, and probably Leroy’s opinion was likewise such – whenever visiting conversation centered on future plans.

There’d been a couple setbacks in the past decade or so with body injury from farm-ranch work. Seriously out of commission at times forced to live away from his lifetime home some, Leroy always returned.

Back full force ahead, Leroy was checking cows, feeding backgrounders, operating farm equipment, driving slowly down the highway ranchland gazing. In recent months, the mature white pickup tough-ranch-work-apparent still driven some; Leroy was generally in his “cart.”

Those in the know identified it a “side-by-side,” to others Leroy’s mode to get around is called a “four-wheeler.” No worry about the 60-miles-per-hour-plus passersby on the ranch-front thoroughfare, it remained Leroy’s road, no matter how slow speedometer reading.

Time finally took toll and the latest health issue decline bout despite unrelenting tough persistence Leroy was unable to overcome.

Into assisted care unit just a couple of days, mind sound discussion still turned to cattle, weights, prices, buyers, weather. Always a stockman-farmer at heart, Leroy was truly the very best.

Stories are heard of those passing at such maturity having only a few or even nobody at memorial services. Nephews, nieces, family, friends, and neighbors numbering a hundred or more came for paying final respects to Leroy Fechner.

The old saying, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” comes to mind. Certainly Leroy was always up at it, generally healthy, affluence insignificant, yet wisest, hardest working, most congenial friend to all.

Reminded of Exodus 8:20: “Rise up early in the morning and go to serve.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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