Steamboat Springs Norman Frentress: my friend and neighbor, a truly dedicated Christian and devoted family man; a genuine old-style rancher, stockman, horseman; a real honest-to-goodness cowpuncher (anything but one of the "plastic cowboys" so common today.
On Jan. 12, 1997, Norm crossed the Great Divide to that far better "range beyond the skies." There we'll ride again together in that "Land of no Good-byes."
Although Norm and I were almost exactly the same age, and both natives of Routt County, we were raised on ranches some 30 miles apart (and those were Depression times, so we didn't do a lot of chasing around) and, as kids, weren't acquainted.
It must have been 1950 when we first met. We were in the same group of Routt County boys that went to Denver via the Moffat railroad for our pre-induction Army physicals. As a youngster, Norm had been crippled by polio, which disqualified him for military service though it didn't appear that he let his handicap, one short leg, slow him down any.
At the time Norm was employed as horse breaker for Coke Roberts, which made quite an impression on me as Coke was probably the most prominent quarter horse breeder in this part of the West.
I didn't see Norm again until after he and Dollie Kline had married and moved onto the old Kline ranch (which had been leased out for years part of it to myself). That ranch joins our Mystic place, so we began to neighbor, and our kids went to school together and were in 4-H together. The Frentresses were fine neighbors as anyone could hope to have.
Later, Norm became a member of the Elk River Grazing Association at Clark. The association and I grazed cattle together on common (open) U.S. forest range, so Norm and I worked some 20 round-ups together. The more I was around him, the more I liked and admired him.
After their association sold out, the Frentresses shifted most of their ranching operations to the lower desert country in Moffat County. But, between changes, Norm and Dollie stayed awhile at the S Bar S and their help was certainly appreciated.
That particular fall it snowed up early before we had done our shipping and it didn't let up until there was around four feet in early December. Well, we got the cattle off to market before the snow was more than a foot deep. Cynthia and I went out with the cattle, leaving Norm and Dollie in charge of things at home, with the only other help being two or three pretty "green" hands that sure needed a supervisor.
We got the cattle sold, spent Thanksgiving with Cynthia's family in Denver (her sister lives there and her mom and brother came up from New Mexico.) Then we went on to the Farm Bureau Convention at Colorado Springs.
All that time we were gone, I knew what the weather was doing at home and I sure did feel for Norm. So, I wrote a couple of poems for him: "Thanksgiving Day at Cow Camp" and "Christmas Eve at the Ranch." When we got home and I gave him the poems, Norm said, "Bill, why don't you write a poem about your old feed team? It's just incredible the way they can follow a sled trail that a human couldn't start to locate under the fresh snow." So, for Norm, I wrote "Finding the Trail."
Later on I learned that Norm's mother was of a pioneer Routt County family. The Blakes came from Canada to the Hayden Valley in a covered wagon before 1900. It was only a few years ago that I found out his Grandmother Blake was a Wentworth and that we each could trace our family lineage to a common ancestor in England Sir Thomas Wentworth (First Earl of Strafford), 1593-1641.