Walter (Spud) Murphy, longtime Wyoming resident, made “Riding for the Brand”, and stewardship to land and animals, his way of life. Born in 1922, in Cheyenne, Spud graduated high school in 1940, married Kim in 1943, and raised three children, two sons and a daughter.
Spud was an only child and enjoyed the attention of family, sheepherders, ranch cooks and cowboys. Early photos of Spud show that horses, a goat, badger, rooster, lambs, chickens and cats and dogs were among his closest friends.
Spud’s father, Walter, was employed as an Assistant General Manager of the Warren Livestock Company. Spud and his parents lived on the Terry Ranch during the 1920’s into the 1950’s. They took pride in managing a successful ranch operation. The Warren’s ran bands of sheep across the southeast plains of Wyoming. Spud and many others rode horseback, herding sheep from the Terry Ranch following Highway 30 to summer range in the Laramie Mountains and back again in the fall. Delivering supplies to camp tenders was one of Spud’s chief responsibilities.
One of his favorite memories of the Terry Ranch was a horse and wagon driver delivering supplies to the ranch. The teamster of Percheron horses, adorned their harness with lilacs. They made quite a show, coming down the road toward the ranch house. His grandfather, Richard Murphy, worked as a caretaker at Granite Reservoir and drove a team of horses on an ice delivery wagon in Cheyenne.
During the 1940’s, Spud’s life was focused on attending the University of Wyoming. He enlisted into the Marine Corps and flew missions over the Solomon Islands in a Marine Corsair squadron during WWII. He returned to Wyoming in 1946 and graduation from UW in 1947 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. Following graduation, he and Kim returned to the Terry Ranch, worked for the Warren Livestock Company, raised their children and lived in Cheyenne until 1966.
The following year included managing the Hamilton Ranch in Simms, Montana. In addition to managing the Hamilton Ranch he supported his daughter in 4-H horse projects and Western Pleasure Riding.
Spud was employed as a Ranch Manager by The Kendrick Cattle Company from 1966 until his retirement in 1987. He pastured his two horses at the OW ranch. Manville Kendrick told him that he could NOT bring his sheep nor his sheep wagon to the Kendrick Cattle Company. Manville explained, “Their little hooves will damage the land!”
The expanse of the Kendrick Ranch was such that most of his travels were carried out by pickup truck or Manville Kendrick’s Piper Cub airplane. Spud drove or flew over seventy miles, one- way, to deliver parts for machinery and groceries for the ranch hands and families, several times per week. He told a story about an injured calf, stranded in a snowstorm. Spud landed the two-seater Piper Cub, loaded up the calf and put the back seat belt around the calf and continued flying into the Forks Ranch for attention. Many of Spud’s journeys to and from the K, OW and the Forks ranches, involved transporting livestock to the veterinarian in Sheridan. He had compassion for the animals and the people that he served.
Spud was very active in agriculture and ranch communities by helping bring Hanging Woman School to the ranch families of the Clearmont, Wyoming community. Spud converted low quality hayfields into productive corn and alfalfa by installing center pivots and on the K Ranch. He also was instrumental in constructing a feedlot at the K Ranch. His efforts significantly increased the carrying capacity and efficiency of the Kendrick Cattle Company.
Spud served on the Cheyenne Frontier Days Indian Committee, Cheyenne Jaycees, Holy Trinity Building Committee and Knights of Columbus.
Spud witnessed many changes in agriculture throughout his career on two of the biggest ranches in Wyoming, the Warren Livestock Company and Kendrick Cattle Company. His innovation and determination improved productivity and efficiency on both ranches. He dedicated his life to his family, faith, friends, Wyoming and country. Spud passed away on September 7, 2015. His legacy continues through his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.