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Legacy Award Winner - 2005

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Legacy Award winner’s emphasis always on youths

by Steven L. Miller,
Senior Editor
Office of Communications and Technology

Glyda May

This year’s Legacy Award winner accepted the honor with her typical unpretentiousness.

“I haven’t done anything outstanding,” says Glyda May of Wheatland.

There are those who would disagree.

While May seeks to avoid the limelight, she’s proud of the accomplishments of she and her late husband, Woody.

The two built their feedlot operation and ranch near Wheatland from meager beginnings. May has lived all but nine months of her life in Wyoming. Woody, who also lived most of his life here, died in 1976.

May helped establish the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena west of Laramie, provided assistance to help establish a wildlife disease faculty position at UW, and helped create a 4-H endowment to develop leadership skills in youths.

The emphasis is on young people. “Possibly because we didn’t have any kids,” says May. “But we helped a lot of other kids. It’s a way to get them started. I worked four years for the Agriculture Adjustment Administration, known as the AAA, and, being housed in the county agent’s office, made me more aware of what UW does.”

May’s interest in UW was also nurtured by two nephews and a great niece graduating from UW. Dennis Utter, a nephew of Glyda and Woody, says he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving for the Legacy Award than Glyda.

“My mother died when I was 3, and they were like substitute parents to me,” says Utter. “My gosh, all of the people in the community really looked forward to being with them. They were always involved in youth events and encouraging the youth. It was a lifetime work for them. They did it very quietly. They were not in search of recognition or praise.”

May has always been interested in youths, says longtime friend and neighbor Vi Goodrich. “She doesn’t do it for recognition. She is interested in what the kids do – 4-H, the horse shows. She’s been a good community supporter.”

May has also always been involved in local activities. Her parents helped start the Platte County Farm Bureau. She still is a member.

She’s also served as a superintendent of the open class needlework show at the Platte County Fair for many years, says Christine Pasley, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service educator for Platte, Goshen, and Laramie counties.

“She is always there to help,” says Pasley. “She supports extension really well, particularly in the agricultural area.”

May is also involved outside her local community. She was a member of a review team from Platte, Laramie, and Goshen counties that began studying the UW Agricultural Experiment Station’s research and extension centers in southeast Wyoming. Their eventual recommendation was to develop the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Extension Center (SAREC) near Lingle.

She recognizes the importance of natural resources not only to agriculture but to all Wyoming residents. May had served on the Wyoming Community Foundation. John Freeman, the foundation’s founding manager, recalls an early board discussion. “We went around the table asking directors what they considered the most critical issue facing our state,” says Freeman. “Some hesitated through indecision and others through disagreement, until we got to Glyda. Without giving it a second thought, Glyda decisively uttered ‘water!’ – really the scarcity of water – as our number one challenge.”

Nine-month-old Glyda had bounced along with her parents and twin sisters in the early 1920s as they traveled to Wyoming from Clark County, Iowa, to settle near Walcott. Her dad worked different branches for two summers and one winter before moving to near Wheatland in October 1922. Glyda was 2. She still remembers riding horseback to school with one twin ahead of her on the horse and the other twin riding behind.

“Woody was raised the hard way,” she says. His parents moved a lot.

Woody’s parents had put up a tarpaper shack to homestead in eastern Montana. His mother came up from the root cellar one day to see fire destroying her life. Her two young sons died in the October blaze. Woody was born the following January.

Glyda met Woody while working for the American Automobile Association in Wheatland, an association that also housed the county extension office. Woody’s parents had purchased a ranch near Wheatland and he was busy farming and fattening out 2,500 head of lambs annually.

“During World War II that was pretty important,” she says. “They sheared the lambs six weeks before marketing them as fat lambs. The lamb hide was used for aviation suits. I still have one around here somewhere. They made good tractor-riding pants in the wintertime. The outside was leather, but the inside was wool. They were heavy but warm.”

Glyda and Woody married August 9, 1942 and the couple purchased their ranch and irrigated farm in 1945 and started feeding out yearling steers for a better living.

“It kept you real busy,” she says. “You didn’t have time to go to town to play golf!”

They crossed their Herefords with Angus then with Charolais. “They were called ‘May’s rainbow herd,’” May says, and laughs. “Our rate-of-gain with Charolais beat Hereford and Angus all to pieces.”

Goodrich first came to know the Mays in 1954 and says they were always good stewards of the land. “They ranched up in the mountains. They were never known to overgraze or abuse property,” says Goodrich.

"They were very careful to move cattle around in pastures to take care of their ground. They weren’t out to get every ounce of grass off of it. They always left something for wildlife and next year. They always looked toward the future.”

Just before Woody died, they had put their place up for sale, and the operation was sold after his death. She kept and resides in the new house they had lived in for eight years and five acres it sits on.

“Woody had always wanted to travel,” she says. “The first place I went was Alaska. That’s where Woody wanted to go. I traveled until I wore out my traveling partners!”

Goodrich still takes May to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. Goodrich’s son, James, is livestock manager of the show. “We cover the whole thing. She never complains. She is always positive,” Goodrich says.

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