Donald Milton Hendrix was born March 1, 1928 near Lamar, Arkansas to Jonas and Rebecca (Berry) Hendrix. He was the thirteenth of fifteen children. His work ethic shaped his entire life and he instilled the same work ethic in his children. One of the stories he liked to tell was at the age of fourteen he could handle four work horses and be in the field at daylight. His family moved to Simla, Colorado in 1941 and began dry land farming in the area. In 1945, they moved to Ordway, Colorado and purchased an irrigated farm so the children would have a closer commute to school. After the eleventh grade, Don joined the U.S. Army and served with the occupational forces in Japan. While in Japan, Don used his military cigarette allotment to purchase two complete sets of china dishes and shipped them home; they remain a family heirloom to this day. Another military experience shaped Don’s character. His sergeant would inspect all jeeps after they were reconditioned and painted; if a single flaw was found in the paint job, Don would be charged to completely re-sand and repaint the jeep. He often stated any job worth doing is worth doing to the very best of your ability. He was honorably discharged on August 9, 1949, it was noted on his discharge records he accumulated thirty-three days of unused leave. He was paid $50.00 for the thirty-three days of leave!
While moving to Ordway, Don and his father became stuck on the dirt road which is now Highway 71. They pulled into the nearest ranch house and asked to leave the trailer they were pulling. There he met Margaret Alice Holland. After Don’s discharge from the Army, they were married on February 18th, 1950. They began their married life together near Simla, Colorado farming the family land. The very first year they were hailed out and never again did Don farm. Don decided to become a cattleman. While living near Simla, the first of Don and Margaret’s six children were born. James Benton was born June 11, 1951. Don and Margaret moved to Ordway in 1952 and Don began working with his father-in-law, James Holland, on the Holland/McCabe ranch north of Ordway. Don was mentored by his father-in-law and became recognized throughout the region for his expertise in the livestock business. Donna Rose was born on December 16, 1952, followed by Thomas Alan on May 22, 1954, Barbara Irene on October 12, 1955, Mary Lorena on May 15, 1962 and Ray Charles on March 22, 1966. The day of Ray’s birth was memorable as very high winds snapped all of the east-west fence posts and cattle were scattered as far as ten miles.
Don and Margaret stayed active on the ranch raising their six children. They had over an acre devoted to a garden that sustained them with canned and frozen vegetables and fruits for winter. They butchered their own beef until retirement. Don and Margaret served as 4-H leaders for 23 years in Crowley County. Don was a member of the VFW in Ordway. The family supplemented their cattle ranch income by raising and training quarter horses. It was important to Don and Margaret for their children to become educated. All six children earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In 1989 they retired from ranching and bought a home in Swink, Colorado. The home was within thirty miles of the family ranch and Don spent many hours supervising ranch operations after retirement. The ranch was sold in 1992 and the proceeds were reinvested in land in Yuma County, Colorado. Don developed a passion for raising roses during his retirement. The years spent in retirement at Swink were the most carefree of their lives; they traveled to Switzerland, Hawaii and throughout the continental U.S.
In October 2012, Don and Margaret relocated to the Towers assisted living facility in Wray, Colorado to be close to their three sons and families living in the area. Don enjoyed driving out to the farms to inspect Tom and Ray’s cattle operations and to also inspect Jim’s farming operations.
He is survived by his wife of sixty -three years, Margaret, three sisters, Lois Asbury of Casper, Wyoming, Leona Carpenter of Kansas City, Kansas, and Edna Ward of Carthage, Missouri, brother-in-law Dale Rusher of Ordway, Sister-in-law Joan Hendrix of Colorado Springs. Six children: Jim (Twila) of Wray, Donna (Charley) Walker of Springfield, Colorado, Tom (Koye) of Wray, Barbara (Paul) Stedman of Aurora, Colorado, Mary (Mike) Loving of Colorado Springs, and Ray (Ardith) of Wray. Thirteen grandchildren survive: Benton (Heather) Hendrix of Haigler, Nebraska, Taneal (Ryan) Behm of Windsor, Colorado, Lorena Hendrix of Denver; Matt (Jena) Hendrix of Wray, Kyle (Holly) Hendrix of Wray; Becky (Reid) O’Lear of Colorado Springs, Lucas (Lindsay) Walker of Springfield, Colorado; Jared, Jason and Lorena Loving of Colorado Springs; Ashleigh, Alicen and Austin Hendrix of Wray. There are nine great grandchildren.
Funeral Mass was held January 6, 2014 at St Andrews Catholic Church Wray, Colorado. Burial occur January 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM, Valley View Cemetery, Ordway, Colorado. Memorials may be made to Hospice of the Plains or the Yuma County 4-H Council. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.