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Dave Brophy - March 22, 2013


David Lee Brophy was born on the family homestead Feb. 14, 1930. His mother, Precious, said he was the best Valentine’s present ever. The old cowboy died March 22, 2013, in his pickup on his farm in rural Yuma County about a half mile from where he was born 83 years before.

Dave Brophy was all boy—active, daring, quick. What it would have been like to raise him with six siblings in a tiny shack in the sandhills.

David and his siblings walked about a mile and a half to a one-room schoolhouse, although in his later years he ran a trap line on his way to school, so the trip would have been considerably longer. It’s said that he actually liked it when he caught a skunk, as getting that smell on him earned him a day off from school. He finished the eighth grade and went to work with his dad, Peter.

The Army drafted Dave in 1951. He did basic training in Hawaii and then was sent to Alaska to guard against the communist threat. He finished his stint as a drill instructor in Kansas. While in the Army, he earned his GED diploma.

Dave married Nadine Probasco in 1955. They raised four children—Brad, Lisa, Greg and Janet—in four different houses all located on the same farm. Interestingly, they didn’t have indoor plumbing until they moved into their third house in 1964. They built their final home in 1976.

Fall was his favorite time of the year. He loved hunting, preferably in the mountains. His first trip was at age 14 for deer around Estes Park. He carried a 30-40 Kraig that was longer than he was tall. Over the years, he probably taught 20-some boys and a couple girls how to hunt, passing up shots on big game so a kid could bag his first elk. His last hunting trip was in 2009; he carried a .243, but mostly for show.

The only thing more common on his hunting trips than rifles were card games. David loved playing cards—pitch, poker and lately, spike. They played for money and they kept score, mostly for bragging rights. It was brutal and fun. No quarter given until after the game, and then his character as moderator came through as always: “Let’s deal again.” There is always another chance, another game. “The winners are laughing; the losers are hollering ‘deal.’”

Dave was the third generation to grow watermelons in the sandhills. He took great pride in a weed-free patch. He cared deeply about quality; melons had to look good and taste better. He knew by sight and sound a quality melon. It’s an art that takes time to develop. It takes patience.

David was unbelievably patient. He was a dad who rarely raised his voice; the few times he was ever upset with one of his kids truly garnered the attention of the offender. If he was mad, they must have done something really bad. He was that way with everyone. He liked almost everybody he met, and he met people with ease. He did not know a stranger.

Raising kids on a farm and ranch afforded Dave the opportunity to always have his kids with him. From daily chores to seasonal work like fixing fence, one or more would have been “helping.” It was especially “helpful” when one of them dumped him out of the back of the pickup while he was feeding hay to the cows.

This constant companionship extended beyond life on the ranch, and he took his kids to every event one can imagine. From gymkhanas to 4-H fairs, he took them and their animals.

He also took them on annual fishing trips to the mountains. He loved fishing, camping and spending time under a tall pine. He’d regale his kids with stories of time spent working on hay crews in the mountains, successful fishing excursions and successful hunts.

He taught by storytelling, and he taught more than just his own kids, as almost every nephew and cousin learned the outdoors from Uncle Dave. In later years, he regularly took his grandkids to Stalker Pond and the fishing hole in Holyoke.

David was preceded in death by Nadine, his wife of 48 years.

He is survived by five sisters, one brother, four children, eight grandkids and six great-grandchildren.

A rosary was held March 25 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Wray. The Mass of Christian Burial was held March 26 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church with Father Jonathan Dellinger officiating. Interment was held at the Yuma Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Wauneta Fire Department.

Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home in Wray was in charge of arrangements.