Centuries of service: Brand inspectors honored in retirementWritten by Saige Albert
Cheyenne – On July 11, seven brand inspectors for the state of Wyoming retired, representing 273 years of brand inspecting experience. Jack Streeter, Dale Armstrong, PeeWee Johnson, Clyde Peterson, Jack Corbett, David Hollings and Sam Skiles received a belt buckle or pocket watch for their service.
“Take a good hard look at these guys and know that they and others like them have built our brand inspection program into what it is today,” said Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa. “I will be eternally grateful, personally for their hard work and dedication.”
Romsa further noted that the families of each brand inspector are also important, as they have dealt with late nights and sacrifices for their neighbor producers.
Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) member and rancher Mark Eisele commented that it is the dedication of brand inspectors that keeps cattle off the highways, sorted between the right operations and delivered to the buyers, with all the appropriate paperwork in order.
On behalf of Gov. Matt Mead, Policy Analyst Jessica Crowder said, “Congratulations on retirement, and thanks for the hard work and commitment through the years. Each of these men has put several miles on their trucks through the years, so we hope they enjoy the days where they get to sit back and relax a bit.”
Wyoming Livestock Board Director Steve True continued, “These men have taught me so much over the years, and I’m grateful to them for their service.”
Over 40 years
Peterson’s 49 years of service to the Wyoming Livestock Board was marked as the second longest in the agency’s history.
Romsa commented, “Clyde has been doing this for 49 years. His faithful service has been appreciated here.”
Peterson started inspecting when a neighbor retired, so several other brand inspectors recruited him for his service.
“I’ve been a part-time inspector for 49 years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I enjoy people, livestock and working with them.”
“There’s a lot of memories that I have. There’s a few neighbors I’d have coffee with and visit with,” Peterson continued. “I have a lot of memories.”
While he still enjoys brand inspecting, Peterson said he’s ready for his semi-retirement. He’ll continue ranching in the Lance Creek area.
Also from the southeast corner of the state, Armstrong lived near the sale barn in Torrington and hired on as a brand inspector with a good friend of his.
He soon became a supervisor for Converse, Natrona and Johnson counties and said, “I kept at it because I loved it.”
“Being around the livestock and, of course, the people, was enjoyable. I met some really nice people,” Armstrong said. “It’s just an interesting job.”
Looking back at his career, he remembers times with retired brand inspector Joe Hunter, where they returned livestock to their rightful locations and helped out producers.
Now that he’s retired, Armstrong said he and his wife Helen may travel, but they’ll certainly find something to do to keep busy.
Romsa said, “Dale, has always been there for me to help me out.”
Also with 45 years, Corbett worked as a brand inspector in the Lander area.
“Jack is an example of what we expect from brand inspectors,” commented Romsa. “We’ve used him as an example and to help train other in the Lander and Jeffrey City country.”
Corbett said, “I still get calls from the sheriff and others. It's been fun."
Jack Streeter of Gillette served for 45 years as a brand inspector, and Romsa said Streeter has been an integral part of the Wyoming High School Finals Rodeo.
“Thank you for letting me be a brand inspector,” Streeter said, adding that he plans to stay far away from the high school finals in the next few years.
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Sam Skiles of Kaycee was unable to attend the ceremony but retired after 33 years.
From the Pavillion area, Dave Hollings retired after 30 years.
He commented, “We’d get up when the Sheriff called in the middle of the night. We might not like it, but we did it.”
“I don’t know how time has gone so fast, but it did,” Hollings said. “I can’t believe it’s been 30 years. It was a good 30 years, though.”
Johnson of Lusk said he started brand inspecting when he was working for the county. The brand inspection supervisor for the county needed another inspector to help out, so Johnson jumped in.
“PeeWee is the old breed of brand inspector who can do anything – and he does it with a smile,” commented Romsa.
After 23 years, Johnson said he’ll continue working, but he also hopes to do a little bit of fishing.
“I loved to look at people’s cattle and the differences year to year,” he said. “I also enjoy meeting different people. There were also times I’d get a call from the Highway Patrol and got to go deal with others. I didn’t care for that as much, but we did it.”
Romsa commented that the time and sacrifice from brand inspectors is unrivaled by many in public service.
“These are great mentors,” said WLSB’s Paula Bivens. “They’ve helped me out wherever I’ve been. These are some great men.”
“I will always have the utmost respect for these brand inspectors,” Romsa commented. “I want to thank them all for everything they have done.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.