MY FRIEND, DERRY BROWNFIELD, REST IN PEACE
March 14, 2011
My phone rang Saturday afternoon, March 12, 2011. A strange thing sometimes in life. I picked up the phone. I could see it was my friend, Derry Brownfield, calling. I thought, great, he wants me to guest on his radio show. Always a treat for me. One of those tech things, but the call didn’t connect, so I hung up. A few seconds later, the phone rang again, but when I heard Beth’s voice (his producer), I started to cry before she said one word. You see, Derry always called me to book his show. I knew, just like I knew nearly a decade ago when our phone rang in Sacramento four days before Thanksgiving. It was one of my husband’s sons from a previous marriage. He had never called before. I immediately knew his brother, my husband’s oldest son, was dead before one word was spoken. The same as I knew Beth was going to tell me Derry left this world.
My friend, Derry Brownfield, died in his sleep the night before. Unexpected because he was, according to Beth, feeling just fine. I want to tell you about that remarkable man I met many years ago at some conference; don’t quite remember which one as I have been to so many events over the past two decades as an activist. We all know what it’s like to meet someone you like right off the bat. A person who just makes you smile. That was Derry. We laughed about our names being so close except for a few letters. Every year after that at Christmas time, Derry would send me a wonderful book about cowboys and days gone past. You see, Derry drew up when Americans had to be tough to survive on the land. He grew up during the “Great” Depression, but that never stopped Derry from his responsibilities and pursuing his goals.
Four years ago, Derry and I were both speakers for the Paragon Foundation in Alamagordo, New Mexico. One of the finest organizations in this country protecting property rights and advocating for ranchers and farmers. My speech focused on the non ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment and some other issues. Derry’s presentation was about what made America great, the cowboy code and a delightful mix of humor and keen intellect.