Walter Madison - February 02, 2012
Walter Robert Madison was born May 26, 1922, at North Platte, Neb. in the old Bill Cody ranch house. Walt was the youngest of five children born to Harry and Gertrude Madison. He described his childhood as being much like all kids who were raised on a farm—helping do chores, attending school and looking forward to the time it was out. There was never a time that he didn’t have a dog or a horse to call his own.
Hunting and trapping were his primary sources of making “spending money.” He told of an incident that happened when he lived near Trenton. While bringing in the horses early one morning, he spotted a big badger headed toward its den. Walt carried a shot-loaded blacksnake with him so he rode his horse as close as possible to the badger, jumped off and “whacked him a good one.” Thinking the blow had killed rather than stunned the badger; he proceeded to tie it on back of the saddle and continued homeward. However, about the time he reached the barn, that badger came to life—so did the horse—and so did Walt!
Through the depression years everyone was having a tough time, as work was scarce. Walt’s brother Bill and he hired out for a lot of different jobs. One brought them to Colorado to work for the Carlson Construction Company during the construction of Highway 36.
He joined the Navy during World War II and went into the submarine service. He was a motor mechanist, as one of the crew, on three boats; the Trigger, Snook and Pampanito. With exception of one trip across the Atlantic, most of their runs were in the South Pacific. One of the most harrowing experiences was on Easter Sunday on board the “Pamp.” They approached a Japanese convoy, fired some torpedoes and in Walt’s words, “I think we made them mad!” Their escort boats ran the submarine down in water too shallow to escape. The skipper turned off all engines and they settled on the bottom. When the enemy apparently ran out of depth charges thirty-six hours later, they were finally able to surface. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the submarine to light a match.
In the fall of 1945, Walt received his discharge and he accepted his brother’s offer to go into farming with him. It was about this time that he met Hilma Cope who had been working at a munitions plant in Denver. Hilma was born on the Cope ranch house south of Cope to Guy and Julia Cope. They were married Oct. 10, 1946 in Sterling, Colo.
Walt attended government-sponsored school in Idalia for several months with other returning vets so that they had the necessary skills to farm, ranch and make a living after returning to civilian life. During this time, attendees earned $75 a month on which they and their wives lived. He joined several other returning WWII Veterans as members of the Seibert VFW Post 6492. They gathered their resources and constructed the building commonly known as the White Elephant on Seibert’s Main Street. The building served as a gymnasium, dance hall and meeting place for the Cope and Seibert communities.
He and others gathered $25 memberships in order to purchase the present Cope Recreation building. Walt loved to dance, so it was fitting that he bought a juke box for the building that remained in the hall for decades. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting, searching for arrowheads, Pinochle and a good Poker hand.
Civically minded, Walt assisted whenever possible to enhance the community. He proudly served in a variety of roles on the Cope Volunteer Fire Department for many years. He also was a School Board Member for Arickaree School and was a member of the Akron Masonic Lodge. Walt was quick to assist whenever someone was attempting to improve the town’s infrastructure, such as obtaining electricity and telephone service.
In the years that followed, Walt farmed, worked on a well rig and at one time, ran a dairy. Because of his expertise, he was frequently called upon to witch water wells, particularly in the Anton area. In 1954, the Carter Oil Company built a service station in Cope, which Walt leased and operated for several years. That year, Sheriff Bill McDonald appointed Walt as Deputy and he served in that capacity until 1965.
His daughter, Donna was born in November 1955.
Walt began working as a feed salesman for MoorMans Manufacturing in May 1960 and was later appointed District Manager. He held that position until 1973 at which time Rex and Anna McIrvin retired from ranching and he purchased their grassland and began raising cattle.
In 1979 Walt and Hilma bought the Jay Poole place from Harold and Lila Simpson north of Cope. They moved there in May 1987.
He attended Artificial Insemination (AI) training so as to breed his cattle. Through the years he developed an exceptionally good herd of Limousin cattle, many of which were registered. He constructed metal panel corrals using sucker rod and alley-ways using drill stem pipe in which one could separate an entire herd of cattle by ones’ self. As his Rheumatoid Arthritis worsened, he sought increasing assistance to care for his herd. He took great pride in ranching for as long as he could.
Another source of pride was his granddaughter Julia. She and husband Glenn blessed him with two great grandsons, Preston and Riley. Walt was very proud of his family.
Last October, he and Hilma celebrated their 65th anniversary.
Due to declining health, Walt and Hilma moved to Wray to be near the physician and their daughter. He died Jan. 25, 2012.
Walt was preceded in death by his grandparents, parents, three sisters, one brother and sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.
Surviving Walt is his wife, Hilma; daughter, Donna and son-in-law, Jim Roberts of Laird; granddaughter, Julia and husband, Captain Glenn Baux, and great grandsons, Preston and Riley of Monument, Colo.; sisters-in-law, Francine Simants of Sterling, Colo.; Mary and husband, Sam Robertson, of Cope, Colo. and Rio Hondo, Texas; Betty L. Smith of Yuma, Colo.; nieces Shirley Clark; Barb and husband, Martin Lalick; Beverly and husband, Dan Long; Janice Williams; Tracy and husband, Alan Axton; nephews, Raymond Greeley and wife, Bernita; Gerald Waidley; Fred Simants and wife, Rhonda; and other family and friends.
Services were held at the Cope Community Church, Jan. 28, 2012, with Pastors Terry Covert and Eldred Sidebottom officiating.
Military graveside services and burial followed at the Cope Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Cope Recreation Club, Wray Community District Hospital, Yuma Home Health Care or Hospice of the Plains.
Arrangements were conducted by the Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home.