WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


It was about 30 years ago that Larry Todd and his wife Joanne had a conversation about their future in ranching. At the time, they were living in Livingston, Montana, and the winter of 1978 was a terribly cold winter. It was cold and miserable when Larry told Joanne, "There has got to be a better place to ranch than this." Two years later in the fall of 1980, Larry Todd moved to Willcox, Arizona when he purchased the G Bar Ranch 22 miles west of Willcox.

When the decision was made to leave Montana, Larry and his brother-in-law, Jim, flew a small airplane all over New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona looking at as much ranch country as possible. Their criteria for any ranch to make the short list or before it would get a second look was, "We didn't want to see any ice on the dirt tanks." Obviously, the G Bar's met that standard, and the Warbonnett Ranch was created.

Larry grew up in cold country as he was born June 18, 1936, in Sheridan, Wyoming. He was one of four kids, two brothers and one sister. Larry's dad was a rancher, so Larry has been ranching all his life. He lived in Sheridan for 15 years before the family moved to Livingston, Montana, where Larry finished his last two years of high school. It was during these last two years of school that he met Joanne Peterson. Upon graduation Joanne went on to school to get her teaching certificate and in 1955, they were married. Larry just flat out says, "The only reason I could be a rancher was because Joanne was teaching." They started small, renting some land and buying some cows. Larry helped pay the bills with a hunting and guide service. An important part of ranching in Montana is putting up hay in the summer so you can feed the hay all winter. For Larry, he would rather be riding and checking his cattle than irrigating and putting up hay.

There is no doubt Montana is colder than Willcox, but Livingston was a great place to raise a family. There are four kids, Larrie, Tommie, Tern Jo, and Katie, and they did everything together as a family. It didn't matter if it was going to church every Sunday, working cattle or going on a special pack trip into the mountains; they did it together as a family. There were not many "official" vacations, but sure lots of good times.

There were always lots of neighbor kids at the Todd's. Everybody was either swimming in the pond, roping in the arena, or skiing down their home made ski slope.

Larry and Joanne followed their kids in sports attending many events to watch the basketball players, cheerleaders or track stars. Their philosophy was you work hard so you can play hard. Even as a grand parent, Larry was taking grand kids to Disneyland. The 9 and 10 years olds were concerned they would have to put rollers on Papa's cowboy boots so he could keep up. Well to say the least, it turned out to be the opposite as the grand kids had trouble keeping up with their Papa.

Larry loves his Warbonnett Ranch. He loves to ride. He said, "We've had some dry years, but I've never been sorry we moved to Willcox. I like it out here. It has wide-open spaces, unbelievable scenery, good neighbors, but not too close. It is sort-of isolated. This is a great country... a good ranch."

The only drawback, it was a long way for Joanne to get to school to teach. She started teaching in Bonita, which made it a 100 mile round trip. Joanne later taught in Willcox and was instrumental in starting the First Baptist Christian School. That school now carries her name, the Joanne Todd Christian School.

Larry said, "This has been a great life. The Lord has really blessed me." I was told that Larry feels like the Lord has given him the responsibility to take care of his ranch country, and he takes it very seriously. In 1989, the Willcox/San Simon RC&D named Larry the Conservation Rancher of the Year.

Larry Todd does not wear his religion on his sleeve, but after spending a little time with him it does not take long to learn how important the Good Lord is in his life. I would describe his relationship as being on a first name basis. Larry showed me a spot on the hill above his house where he and Joanne would go to do their Bible study. They would walk up a steep trail to a spot out on top of the canyon where they could study the Bible and watch the sun come up. It is one of those specials places on a ranch where you cannot really describe the beauty and peacefulness. Those emotions can only be felt. It is here where you now see a large wooden cross marking the final resting place for Joanne as she passed away in March of 2007.

Larry Todd is a very patient man. He is patient with horses and livestock, and patient with his kids. He loves to ranch and loves to ride. And just when you think you know him, you learn that at age 71 he wanted to go sky diving. I do not understand why anyone would want to strap a pack on their back and jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but he did it. I guess if that is what you really want to do it probably helps that you are on a first name basis with the Lord.

Larry has been ranching in Willcox for the past 28 years. He is always looking forward to the next season. There is not extreme hot or cold. Calves can come anytime and not be freezing their ears off. He said, "This life has been rewarding yet very tough. It has got to come from the heart. Doing something you enjoy. That is all you can ask for."

Written and presented by Eddie Browning