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A tribute to Bill May

Tracy Darrington
Fence Post Editorial Coordinator

Many of our long-time readers can remember way back when Bill May first started writing for the Fence Post ” back in the days when the whole paper could be printed on 20 pages or so. For those of us who took to reading the paper a bit later, let me provide a bit of history on our long-time, faithful columnist Bill May.

Bill began writing for the Fence Post back in 1987. Brim-full of knowledge about the history of the Western Slope of Colorado, the plants and animals that inhabit it, and the colorful people who built this state out of sod, trees, and solid rock, Bill loves to share his extensive knowledge with anyone who is interested for the sake of future generations.

A full-time rancher until recent years, Bill had to make the time to write, although many times his books and columns were literally done “by accident.”

For example, in our 20th Anniversary Edition of the Fence Post, Bill colorfully described one of those “opportunities” when he actually was given the gift of time to write:

“It was late April or early May (mud season) 1983 … A Denver TV station asked if they could come out and film Cynthia and me caring for our horses and cattle. They said they would like to title the short ‘People of Spring,’ and show it on ‘Colorado Byways.’

… Soon after the TV deal I was kicked by one of our stallions, resulting in the first of about three broken legs. Notice I said about ” I was awfully lamed up but thought if I just rested my leg for a few days …

We didn’t have a TV but my son, Scott (whose house isn’t but a few rods from ours) has one. He reported that he’d seen ‘People of Spring’ on his TV about midday. He said it would show again that night (at 10 p.m. as I recall.) I didn’t think it would hurt anything to hobble (on crutches) over that way, and if he was still up … to watch his TV.

What I didn’t know was that while I’d been lying around the house trying to recover … Scott had dug an 8-foot deep basement at one side (and under) his house.

Yes, you guessed it … I took a shortcut to the bottom of that hole … where I abruptly encountered with my hip the end of an 8-inch pipe which protruded vertically from the bottom of the cellar. Further, as I commenced my descent in the general direction of Hades, my flailing right hand hit the jagged edge of an angle iron which had been placed across the top of the hole. Old Satan must have chuckled at the sound of ripping hide and flesh.

Scott was watching ‘People of Spring’ on the TV and, until a quiet pause in the show, failed to hear my groans. When he discovered what had happened, his screams aroused everyone on the ranch. Our hired man beamed a flashlight in my eyes and shouted, ‘I’ll call an ambulance!’ I hollered back, ‘Ambulance ” heck! Drag me out of here so I can at least see the end of that program!”

This little glimpse into Bill’s life exemplifies his spirit and attitude so well. Despite his busy lifestyle and the increasing physical obstacles he faces, Bill continued to write countless historical articles, books, poems, and songs. Bill’s unique writing talent breathes life and animation into the characters he shares with his readers.

When Bill’s health began to decline a few years back, and his wife, Cynthia, suffered an injury from a ranching accident, the difficult decision was made that the Mays would leave their beloved ranch and move where help would be available day and night if the need arose.

Bill is now battling Parkinson’s Disease, which, as many are aware, is a mighty adversary for anyone. Bill no longer writes columns, although he continues to be a wealth of information, compassion, and humor for those around him.

Please join the Fence Post in thanking Bill for his contributions to our paper and to the faithful readers who have valued his writing so much.

Cards and letters to Bill and Cynthia will be appreciated at the following address:

The Oaks, 805 W. Ottley

Fruita, Colorado, 81521

Thank you, Bill, for all you’ve done for us. We appreciate your faithful contributions to the Fence Post.


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