Beloved Routt County cowboy dies of aneurysm

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— Fredrick Eugene McAnally, one of Routt County's most beloved cowboys, died Aug. 28 of a brain aneurysm. He was 51.

"It was just when you were with him, he was the life of the party," brother-in-law Harry Thompson said. "Everybody was drawn to 'Mac.'"

McAnally was born Oct. 22, 1950, along with his fraternal twin, Lloyd, to James L. "Roy" McAnally Jr. and Marjorie McAnally of Craig.

McAnally grew up in Arvada and spent a majority of his youth hunting elk and deer in Northwest Colorado with his parents and grandparents.

He had an older brother, Roy, and a sister, Marcella.

He moved back to Northwest Colorado in the '70s and worked as a railroad engineer for the Denver Rio Grande Railroad.

In 1978, McAnally started his work as a rancher.

Working as a rancher and being a cowboy was McAnally's dream, Thompson said.

"Ever since he was a kid he wanted to be a cowboy," he said.

McAnally worked as a ranch manager for Saddle Mountain Ranch, Wolf Mountain Ranch and Elk Run ranches.

Although McAnally was known as a jokester, he did have his serious side.

"When there was a job to do, he had a serious side," Thompson said. "He could be the toughest man and sit up all night with a sick dog or horse."

Brother-in-law Glenn Jones said the two would work long days on the ranch and McAnally would finish their day with laughter.

After work they would "sit on a hitching rail and have a beer. He would work 12 hours and still get into a joke session," Jones said.

Jones has numerous memories of wild horse races and times on the ranch with McAnally.

"We spent a lot of hard and fun times together," Jones said.

McAnally's wife, Nancy, was his true companion during their 25 years of marriage.

"They did everything together. They called them 'Mac and Mae,'" Thompson said.

McAnally and his wife enjoyed ranching, golfing, traveling and socializing. "They lived for each other," he said.

Thompson said Nancy was a light in McAnally's life and he was always supportive of her.

The McAnallys did not have their own children but were the "favorite aunt and uncle" of their siblings' children. The couple took in a number of people who were down on their luck and needed a place to stay, Thompson said.

Jones said McAnally's death was a shock to everyone who knew him.

He said he was sitting with Nancy and McAnally on their porch when McAnally collapsed and realized something was wrong.

He said even up until that moment, McAnally was making jokes and having fun.

"Nancy assumed he was having a little fun," he said.

McAnally's extraordinary character was uplifting to many people.

Thompson said McAnally would pull people aside to tell them a special joke.

"He always had people around him," Thompson said.

A memorial service for McAnally was at 2 p.m. Saturday at Elk Run Ranch.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Humane Society.

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