Cowboy Heroes

Rob Krentz

Don called Rob up one day and said, “Hey Rob, I’ve got this prolapsed cow over at the Double Adobe Ranch locked up in the corral and I was wondering if you could give me a hand?” “Sure,” says Rob, “just come on over and get me on your way.” So the two men headed over to the Double Adobe Ranch which is about an hour away from Don’s main ranch at Apache.

They didn’t take a horse with them because Don had trapped the cow in the water lot earlier. Upon their arrival they found a mean old hussy who was none too happy about her current uncomfortable condition or the arrival of the two “would be” cowboy doctors. “You run her up the alley and I will catch her with the head gate,” Don instructed. After giving Rob quite a run around in the alley, he finally got her headed up the lead-up. She was really moving fast as she hit the front. As a matter of fact, she hit the front with such a force that the old bolts holding the head gate in place just popped like buttons on a shirt! The old gal then proceeded to run around the water lot with the head gate on her head and Don still holding on to the lever. Don didn’t want to let her go for fear she would escape, or worse yet, chase him around while wearing the head gate. After a minute or so of dragging Don around, the cow smartened up and backed out of the contraption till she was free of it. She then chased Don around the lot until at last she cleared the top rail of the fence like a hurdler at a track meet. Laughing at the sight of all this, Rob says, “Well, now what are we going to do boss?” It would take about two hours to go back to the main ranch and get a horse, so Don rummaged around behind the seat until he came up with an old catch rope. “We’ll rope her using this old truck,” declared Don. “You drive!” Rob says “Your ranch . . . your cow . . . your truck . . . you drive . . . I’ll rope.” So off they went across the mesquite flat dodging bushes and arroyos chasing after the prolapsed cow. The rope was tied to the gooseneck ball in the back and Rob had fashioned a hand hold onto the headache rack for balance and support. After chasing the cow far enough that she finally began to wear out a little bit, Don was able to line out on her in a fairly level area. As Don pulled up beside the cow, Rob swung a time or two and then landed a loop that should have made a professional roper proud. Rob threw the trip and Don turned the pickup off to the left just as if he was in Cheyenne at the Frontier days! The truck didn’t quite work like a good quarter horse would have, so the cow was difficult to throw down. Don figured that after a while, the old cow would just choke down enough that they could tie her up and doctor her. The ole gal was too smart for that though and she always kept just enough slack in the rope to keep her breath. As Don and Rob tried many different methods of getting the cow down, about all that was accomplished was she was mad. Very mad. So mad, as a matter of fact, that she spent all of her time trying to chase the two cowboy doctors. Around the truck, in the cab, on the back, it didn’t matter; she was after her antagonists with a vengeance. Finally the two men came up with a plan; they had rummaged around behind the seat and came up with another catch rope. This one they tied off to the base of a larger mesquite bush. Don says, “Let her chase you by here and I’ll heel her.” Rob says, “You’re skinny and fleet of foot . . . you chase . . . I’ll rope.” So as Don let the cow chase him around like a champion bull fighter, he finally got her to go by the spot where Rob waited. With a heel shot that was sent by the Gods, Rob snagged a hind leg. Don jumped in the truck and took out the slack; the cow was tied down. Then, and only then, was she given slack. Well, they got her stuffins put back where they belonged and sowed her up, then they cautiously let her go. Both men were wore out from the ordeal. As they headed back towards Apache Don told Rob, “I sure do thank you for helping me out pard. That would have been quite a job for one man.” Rob’s reply? “Well that’s what friends are for.” This is a true account as told by a neighbor when asked, “Just what kind of friend was Rob Krentz?” The immigration vs. secure border issue has gotten more press lately than a political love scandal. It seems everybody has an opinion on the subject and most are quite vocal. But you know what they say about opinions . . . While this subject is not new by any stretch of the imagination, if you could point to one thing that has brought it to the forefront of political issues lately, it would have to be the murder of a southern Arizona rancher on his own property. On March 28, 2010 Rob Krentz became the poster child for the secure border issue. Unfortunately, it cost him his life. At the time of this writing Rob is without a doubt the most widely known rancher in America, maybe the world. Just ask anyone, anywhere, to name an American rancher today and they will more than likely say Rob Krentz, or at least, “You know . . . that guy that got killed down along the border.” As I read with interest all of the stories concerning the border and immigration, I started to wonder “just who was Rob Krentz?” I mean the person Rob Krentz, not the image or martyr that he has become for the secure border issue. I know several of the Krentz Ranch neighbors, and when one of them approached me about doing a story on the subject, I readily agreed on the condition that it was with the Krentz family blessing and that it would be a story on the man himself, not the political issues. I am honored that they agreed, because now I feel as if I know who Rob Krentz really was. I only wish that I could have met him prior to March 28. While interviewing several family members and neighbors of Rob’s, I got a glowing report of a great man. Friend, family man, conservationist, good rancher and kind-hearted were all thrown about. Of course they wouldn’t have bad things to tell me about one of their own, I thought, but you know what? I read articles and contacted several people who are on the other side of the political issue, if you will, and couldn’t find one single person who had anything bad to say about Rob. Even the most adamant immigrant rights people had nothing bad to say about the person Rob Krentz himself. All they could talk about was being against the reform issue. Amazing! Even the so-called enemy could not run down Rob’s character. Here is why: Rob Krentz was a man of values. From the time he was just a little boy, Rob’s dad, Bob, grilled into him the importance of doing things the right way. Throughout his life, Rob worked extra hard on doing just that. He wouldn’t cut corners when it might have been easy to do so — not if it weren’t the right thing to do. Little things that some people don’t think twice about like moving cattle without the proper inspection papers or running red (illegal) diesel in his pickup truck were out of the question as far as Rob was concerned. You never cheat, not even one little bit, was what Rob lived by and he inspired friends and family in the same way. To understand Rob, you need to know more about his family history. The Krentz family emigrated (legally) from Alsace-Lorraine (which once was a little country between Germany and France and now is part of France) around the turn of the last century. They were butchers by trade and first went to St. Louis. Family lore says that after government regulations became too cumbersome there (even back then), the Krentz family headed west. Upon leaving St. Louis, they settled in Winslow, Ariz., about 1902, operating a butcher shop and a ranch. While operating the Chevelon Creek Ranch south of Winslow, the family recorded one of the earliest brands in the state of Arizona, the 111 bar brand, which is owned by the Babbitt family today. In 1907 the family sought out new ventures in the border town of Douglas, which was booming at the time. The Krentz’s bought the historic Tovrea Meat Market in Douglas and also the Spear E Ranch at the foot of the Chiricahua mountains. In about 1918, the meat market was sold and they concentrated their efforts solely on ranching from then on. It took several years, but eventually the Krentz family was able to buy up the little homesteads surrounding them when they became available. Back then just about everyone in that country had a section or two of land that had been homesteaded. As people went broke or moved away, the Krentz family was in a position to buy out the smaller outfits and eventually put together one big ranch. Most of their pastures had been individual homesteads at some time, and are named after the original homestead. Each has its own history as well. In media reports that circulate these days, the Krentz Ranch is said to be 35,000 acres. I can tell you that isn’t quite right, but it is impolite to ask a person the size of his or her spread. It’s kind of like asking people how much money they have in the bank. Only the IRS and a rancher’s banker are privy to that information in the eyes of most ranchers, including the Krentzes. The family were pioneers. They were the kind of people that settled and developed this country and made it safe for others to follow. They are the kind of family that should be considered the backbone of America. Surviving bad droughts, cyclical markets, government regulations, and a myriad of other issues made them into the strong ranching family that we have today. The Krentz Ranch has been there since before Arizona was a state. It has been there since long before there was ever a United States Forest Service dictating rules to them. This is the background and legacy that Rob was born into, a salt of the earth kind of old-time ranching family. When asked about some of Rob’s other qualities, over and over again I am told about his willingness to help out. Rob’s wife, Sue, says, “Most of the time when Rob left the house he would say, ‘I am going to help (fill in the blank).’” Rob’s neighbors all have great stories to tell about Rob going out of his way to help them out of a jam. Not only would he help a neighbor, but Rob was kind to strangers as well, including the illegal immigrants that inundated his property. Rob was known to help out a thirsty, starving or wounded immigrant on more than one occasion. That may have been what got him killed. Rob’s last radio transmission to his brother Phil was something like: “going to help an illegal in distress.” Rob and his dog, Blue, were found shot several hours later. Rob’s friends and family could not stress strongly enough that he loved to help people. “A friend in need is a friend indeed” was a motto of Rob’s. Not only did he help out friends and strangers in and around the ranching country of southeastern Arizona, but Rob was very involved in many other projects as well. Rob was very active in the Cattle Growers’ Associations at the local and state levels. He worked with the Malpai Borderlands group trying to preserve ranching and wildlife habitat for future generations. He testified numerous times to congressional leaders about the issues facing the international border and always seemed to find the time to continue helping out where he could. The Krentz family were well known as good stewards of the lands that they control. They were honored for practices such as their long gravity flow water pipeline that served cattle and wildlife across their large ranch. Rob and his family took such good care of their land that they were used as examples of range stewardship on numerous occasions, and to top it off, the Krentz Ranch was inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame in its inaugural year, 2008. Rob was a favorite around brandings on the nearby ranches. He was nicknamed “Crunch” and everybody laughs as they recall the “Krentz Crunch” that Rob used on waspy calves. Rob was a large man physically and after watching younger or smaller cowhands get mucked out by an unruly yearling, Rob would come running and put the Krentz Crunch on the offending animal. The move has been described as a cross between tackle football and wrestling. Rob loved to hunt, fish, and do just about anything outdoors. He was a good roper, rancher, horseman, cowman, husband and father. Everybody I talked to had nothing but praise for Rob. He was easy to get along with. He was always positive. He was a genuine kind of person. Those are just some of the comments. Rob loved life and would constantly tell his family, “We are so very blessed. We are blessed to live in this beautiful place that we live in. We are blessed to get to live the lifestyle that we want to, and do what we want to every day.” As one of Rob’s friends put it “Rob was one of the good guys, he was a good ole boy.”