The beef industry lost two great advocates this week, but Heaven gained two great angels! Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Mr. Clay Birdwell and Mr. Dickson “Dicky” Richardson. Both were outstanding, well respected, family focused, admired individuals. The “salt of the earth” as is said around these parts, and many lives were better for knowing them.
Mr. Birdwell was currently serving as President of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). The TSCRA is an organization that helps cattlemen by providing a clear sounding voice to discuss issues and protect rights. In addition to being president, he served on the board of directors for the Texas Beef Council and Texas Cattle Feeders. He was also a member of several other livestock related organizations. However, he’s best described as loving the Lord, his family, and his cattle in that order. I didn’t know him personally, but I had the chance to meet him once several years ago, and the encounter always stuck with me.
I believe Mr. Birdwell was a director for TSCRA the time we met. I was walking into a big convention hall in downtown San Antonio that was hosting a cattlemen’s conference of some sort. The weather was bad and I was beat. At the time, it was about two years into what seems is our never ending drought conditions in this part of Texas, and it was the tail end of winter. It was a Saturday, and I had burned cactus that morning trying to salvage the small makings of a little cow-calf operation and I was plumb wore out. Or, maybe I was worn down from watching the grass give way to burnt dirt, diesel prices sky rocketing, and futuristic conditions that seemed bleak at best. However, I had wanted to attend the conference hoping that maybe a great institution like Texas A&M, Purdue, or even Texas Christian University had found a way to turn weeds into cow feed. I was thinking of something like a chemical spray that broke down the enzymes of weeds allowing palatability to increase and cattle to thrive in any condition of range land! What else is bull-nettle and ragweed good for? (If someone does create this, then I want a royalty check!) Anyway, as I was walking in Mr. Birdwell was too. He opened the door for me and we exchanged greetings. Thirty minutes later and we were still in the lobby of the convention hall talking. He asked all kinds of questions about where I was from, my background, what type of operation did I run, did I have another occupation, and how the drought was affecting me. He was very genuine, concerned, and engaging to this poor young cowboy who was considering throwing in the towel. As folks would walk by to shake his hand, he made sure to introduce me and say where I was from, a common politeness not often observed these days. It may seem like trivial details, but the way a man treats a stranger goes a long way towards describing his character. Mr. Birdwell left me with the impression of being a great Christian, loving family man. His final words when we parted ways was stating he’d say a prayer for all of us going through the drought and to hang in there because it couldn’t last forever.
The family of Mr. Birdwell requests in lieu of flowers that memorials be sent to the Children’s Home of Lubbock, PO Box 28, Lubbock, Texas 79408, or Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Foundation, 1600 Gendy, St. Fort Worth, Texas 76107-4062, or the charity of your choice.
Mr. Richardson, or Dicky as he was known by all those that knew him was a beloved cattle and horsemen from South Texas. He retired from the Texas Animal Health Commission, and then worked for the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M. He was a proud loving father, a devoted husband, true cattleman, exceptional horseman, and a friend to any who had the pleasure of meeting him.
I met Dicky several years ago when learning to compete in ranch sorting, a sport that he was very passionate about. In fact, many of us that compete in it owe our foundation to his guidance, charity, and well-timed vernacular. The good Lord didn’t make many men nicer than Dicky Richardson. He didn’t care if you were a 5 year old little girl, or a late 50’s old man just learning to ride. If you were willing to listen, and take your time, he would teach you about reading and sorting cattle. He took me under his wing one Friday night at a practice sorting in Bulverde. I had heard about the sport and wanted to try it. So, I hooked up Ol Blue then loaded a pretty good mare and headed out. I guess when he rode up to me that night he knew right away I was new and didn’t know a soul there. For the first time, I was in a pen full of horses and riders and I didn’t know anybody. He reached across shook hands and asked if I understood the rules. I said I thought so and he said, “come on let’s give it a try.” Sixty seconds later and I was hooked. I don’t remember the actual run but we sure had a bunch more after that, and I watched him do the same thing repeatedly time after time to the new comers. Not many people can make you feel welcome in an arena and be sincere about it, but Dicky was a one of kind.
I enjoyed his company and his family anytime they were around. He was especially proud of his two daughters, Anna and Dena, and how they turned out as great women and almost as good with horses as him! Knowing both of the girls, he was right about them. It is such a credit to the man he was that he and his wife raised two smart, beautiful, talented, and respected daughters. The world’s a better place for his life well lived and I’m a better person for knowing him.
The family of Mr. Richardson requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Dicky’s name to the Karnes City Public Library, or any pet adoption agency of your choice.
So, if Heaven has a ranch, and I’m sure God has a great spread, then I know these two men are happy. Watching over God’s herd of beautiful white-faces grazing on lush grass belly high, next to a rushing creek of clean sweet water, and with a remuda of fine horses that could turn the devil, these two top-hands have been rewarded for lives lived greatly.
Respectfully, well wishes and prayers,