Wayne Dammeir was my brother-in-law. He spent his entire life on a ranch in the Texas Panhandle (the Holy Land). He was married with two children. He is a direct decendant of Batt Masterson of wild west fame.
If you looked up cowboy in the dictionary, it could just as likely say “see Wayne Dammeir.” I’m convinced he was the original inspiration for the Marlboro Man. Quiet and weather beaten , he had a gentle toughness about him honed by years of dealing with ornery cattle and stubborn horses (and polished by his Mary Kay). My last memory of him is from a dinner our two families enjoyed at a classic B-B-Q joint in Amarillo, Texas. He informed me in his typically low-key fashion that, as a foreigner in these here parts, my money would no doubt be useless and that he would do the right thing and pay for dinner. I observed that the same problem would exist were we “Back home again in Indiana” and that I believe I would have done the same thing. His humor was drier than mine.
Wayne fooled us all. His simple aw schucks demeanor hid a highly educated man. He had a B.S. in Agricultural Science and a Master’s in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M. He was also President of the local Cattle Association. He was devoted to his family and his ranch. There is not a man anywhere so clear in his passion than Wayne was for the ranching life.
Wayne was also a tough old cuss. There was a time when he was roping a steer that had gotten away from the herd and wandered off. Got the rope around his head just fine and all seemed ok. Unfortunately, his rope tangled around his leg, the steer went one way and the horse another. Broke his leg in two places and left him alone in the middle of a range on a blistering hot Texas afternoon. He drug himself a good distance to the only tree that offered anything resembling shade and waited until his father came looking for him. I’m told he laid out there 3-4 hours. Yup, this actually happened. I don’t know how many rattlesnakes he shot.
Not long ago, Wayne and his son were on horseback out on the range. Wayne was working with a horse that had recently been broken. He and Jordan went separate ways on different projects. Two or three hours later, Jordan was back at the barn when Wayne’s horse came back without him. Twenty-two year old Jordan rode out in search of his Father. He found him, battered and bloody, at the bottom of a ravine. His horse had thrown him and his neck was apparently broken. Rescue ensued and Wayne hung on another twenty four hours. He died on a brilliant Texas afternoon at the age of 57. He left the wife he deeply loved, Mary Kay, a daughter, Laurel Catherine, and son Jordan. He also left friends and admirers all across the Texas Panhandle and beyond.
Wayne Dammier was one of the finest gentleman I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I am at a loss to explain what a class act he was. He loved his Mary Kay with all his heart and his passion for ranching was without bounds. I shall miss him.
Wayne knew his passion and followed it unreservedly. “Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.”