Larry Zabel lost his battle with cancer and left us to go home to his God & Savior.
"Down deep in my soul, where suppressed desires live & prosper, there’s this cowboy thing. I guess I always wanted to be a cowboy. Back in the 30’s before my dad owned a tractor, he had two teams of gentle draft horses (Glory & Chubby/King & Prince). Some of my earliest recollections are of sitting on their backs engulfed in that sweet smell of horse & harness. These teams responded to voice commands so I just sat there & held on while Dad pulled stumps or guided the plow.
The following is a message from Larry that he wrote for his memorial service:
Then came Red Rider & Little Beaver my comic book heros who put the cowboy spin on my love of horses. The radio held me captive as the Lone Ranger Series galloped across my fertile imagination. Then it was Hopalong Cassidy on our way up to John Wayne & Robert Duval.Growing up in Orange County, CA, did not put me in touch with real cowboys but the Dickerson brothers down the street had an oversized Shetland named Beauty that we could get to buck with arope under his flanks.
Time flew by and then I had kids of my own. . . Christi & Beccastarted life with each a pony - Copie & Clarence, the burro and I finallygot some horses of my own, too. When sons Steve & Jon came along wehad a few more horses. Steve got a fine Appaloosa from a belovedneighbor, Butch Young, & Becca “won” a wild mustang colt by writing aletter to the famous “Wild Horse Annie” stating why she, above all thosethousands of other applicants, should have one & that horse became atrue family member & lived with us for 29 years. Jon was active in HighSchool Rodeo as a Bull Rider & even got to ride in the finals at The CowPalace in San Francisco.
In 1987 the Zabel outfit bought the old Hagl place on North Meadow
Creek in the extreme North end of the famous Madison Valley & sold out
Why did we do such a bodacious thing? We had it made in CA - a
paid for small ranch with creek, pond, pasture; the love & respect of the
great Naval Weapons Center & environs; a secure & lucrative job. Our
well adjusted children were beginning to leave the nest for adventures of
their own. Such a deal!!
One day I told my Boss, Steve Sanders, “I want to quit, move to
Montana & become a cowboy.”
“You What!!!” he says in disbelief & fear for my sanity.
I continued on that it was more like becoming a cowboy artist & telling
their story thru art: a reporter for today’s cowboy & maybe yesterday’s
Indians & maybe the explorers, & the wild life of the Northern Rockies.
“Sort of Call of the Wild thing,” he says sarcastically.
It was indeed a “CALL.” ----
I answered it & have been a most happy camper ever since.
And I thank you all for making it such a marvelous adventure!"