Nikki here-the following Eulogy is by Ed Todd with the Midland Reporter Telegram about my co-worker's brother-in-law who passed recently. I feel he captured Bill's wonderful West Texan spirit with this beautiful Eulogy and had to share it with y'all. May it bring a little bit of West Texas to your day.
Eulogy to Bill 'Hoss' Lindsey: 'The place where I worship is the wide-open spaces'
by Ed ToddMidland Reporter-Telegram
Published: Thursday, April 16, 2009 1:14 AM CDT
RANKIN -- Up Midland way, a pickup, counterpart of the Old West's buckboard wagon, displayed on its cab a "Happy Trails" sign that, considering the occasion, seemed somewhat ironic. But it was a sign, perhaps an omen, which a person, consciously or unconsciously, might look for on the way to a funeral to visit a grieving family.
Farther south, on the 55-mile drive to Rankin, population 800, a gathering place for a farming, ranching and oilfield community of folks, a prowling roadrunner, the chaparral, ran across a bar-ditch (Texana for "borrow ditch") and under a barbed-wire fence in search of a live meal. The critter was hard at work.
Closer to Rankin, another sign was "right on": A flight of birds, likely lark buntings, swooped low over the roadway. And a lone bird peeled off and banked to the west: "Gone West" -- aviation's tradition of honoring a fallen aviator.
In this instance, the fallen soul was a rancher, 48-year-old Bill "Hoss" Lindsey, the third of four sons of DeWayne and Janey Lindsey, Upton County ranchers and community stalwarts.
"There's not a harder-working people or better neighbors anywhere," said Tommy Owens, whose ranches neighbor the Lindsey ranches at four places north, east, south and west of Rankin and have for 45 years. He and wife, Edra, were "right there" to share the family's grief when they first heard of Bill's death. "I was raised that way -- to help your neighbors," Owens said. "We never had a cross-word."
Spring had arrived in West Texas: The mesquite was blooming, signaling planting time following a mild winter. But on his South Dakota ranch where Bill Lindsey died, snow was plentiful. He and his brother Daymond, who was up there to help with calving, had been working on building living quarters in a barn when Bill Lindsey collapsed.
In an instant, Daymond dropped to his knees and tried to revive his brother by pounding on his chest, breathing into his lungs.Throughout the years, the Lindsey ranchers have restored life to lifeless lambs on their sheep ranches, the father said, by using similar techniques. Not all survived. Just "for a moment," the father said, Bill gained consciousness but quickly faded.
The oldest brother, Tom, flew there out of Midland, and he and Daymond drove their brother home, with great dignity, in a modern-day covered wagon -- a van. The youngest brother, Shane, especially close to his fallen brother, came into Rankin to be with his parents. (Daymond, a house-builder, and Shane are in the construction business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Tom ranches in Upton County.)"We feel an obligation to care for our own, to bring him home," the father said.
At the March 31 afternoon funeral, hundreds of mourners from West Texas to South Dakota filled the hilltop Rankin Park Building's auditorium and hallways. Others were just outside the westward-facing building, which, like the vintage Upton County Courthouse, seemed to address the distant plateaus and mountains in this semi-arid country.
"He made you feel like you were the first person he had seen all day," Johnny "Hotrod" Kidd said in eulogizing the personable Bill Lindsey. "And he was looking (just) for you."Bill brightened lives. He "honored God" through his toil on ranchland from Texas to South Dakota, through love for and devotion to his schoolteacher wife Denna, their children Will and Lauren, and their brothers and parents. And, in tossing in tidbits of humor, Kidd said Bill could eat a hamburger and, at the same time, enjoy a "chew of tobacco" without confusing the two, without mixing them up.
DeWayne Lindsey would say later his son "got to talk to (God) everyday out on the ranch."Bill's diligence would prompt him to "rip the sleeves" out of his long-sleeved shirts so he could work harder, longer and freer, Kidd said. And he over and over demonstrated a "spirit of not quitting and overcoming."The Lindsey sons are "very talented boys" and, like their father and mother, hard workers, Tommy Owens said. "DeWayne taught them well."
As did their father before them, the Lindsey boys played high-school football for the Rankin "Red Devils."And Bill Lindsey "could do just about everything" and did it well, "a talented guy, good humored, laid-back," Owens said. "You never heard him say anything bad about anybody."
After the burial at Rankin Cemetery, there was a bountiful community feed, a late dinner near suppertime. Visitation continued.
The mother, the cheerful and ever-toiling Janey, was absorbed in grief and tears, weeping."That's one hard-working woman," Owens said. "She can fix those groceries for dinner." In ranch-work, "she is just as hard-working as the boys and DeWayne."
The pain of grief had stolen her cheerfulness and her marvelous conversation and gab. She became mostly reticent, speaking quietly of her beloved "Hossie," her dearest Bill, whose great-grandfather Jeff Langford had named "Hoss" after the stout but gentle Hoss Cartwright character on the 1959-1973 Western television series "Bonanza." They would watch the mostly 1960s show together on the Lindsey's "south" ranch.
By mid-afternoon long before dusk, the sorrowful father was standing strong, sentimental and tearful. To their bones, DeWayne and Janey Lindsey knew only the passing of time would soothe their grief, which would never leave mind and heart.The father could look all around and into the vast horizon, surveying this old country of more dust than rainfall, scrub country yearning for moisture for its denizens: The people, livestock and wildlife. To ranchers, grass is more than "money in the bank." It is their livelihood. "There's beauty everywhere," DeWayne Lindsey said. "You just have to look for it."
At the cemetery southeast of town and across the railroad tracks, Tommy Owens, strumming the guitar, sang an old favorite: "The place where I worship is the wide-open spaces." It was a tribute to Bill, to his God and to the land.
The week of his father's funeral, Will, fresh out of college with a degree in animal husbandry, headed north to take over his father's South Dakota sheep and cattle operation."We still run sheep and goats in this (Rankin) country," Owens said, "... and coyotes."
Just west of the cemetery, a breeze was spinning the bladed wheel of the old-style Aermotor windmill to bring up groundwater for livestock: Picturesque.
On that old hardtack soil fit for coyotes and varmints, cacti and mesquite, sheep and goats, there is even more beauty between sunrise and sunset: The colorful wildflowers giving grace to weeds. Among their vast numbers are those yellow daisies, the DYCs known by botanists as "damned yellow composites," and the lovely five-petal globe mallow.
Like his parents, brothers and neighbors, Bill Lindsey loved this old land on which he toiled and thrived.
"'I'm not here for a long time,'" Bill would say from his younger years onward, the father recalled. "'I'm here to have a good time.'" Bill Lindsey did enjoy life and, along with his hard work, rode those "Happy Trails."
Ed Todd is a writer for The Midland Reporter-Telegram.