Edward “Smokey” Nunn and his bride Eunice Dean Wright settled in Luna County near the boot heel of far Southwestern New Mexico in 1942. That home has now been home to seven generations of cow people, the Nunn family.
The Steeple A and Flying Y ranches in Luna and Sierra Counties were groomed under the hands of Smokey and Eunice until they were blessed with one son, Joe Bill Nunn. Born in Deming in 1946, Joe Bill was educated first on the back of a good horse alongside his dad before entering his school house years.
Joe Bill has told us his fondest memories of that time of his life were the summers spent gathering cows, flanking calves, helping the neighbors, getting to rodeo a little and roping in the branding pens. In the fall the annual cattle drives provided an opportunity to be around the campfires with good cowboys, good stories, and good grub. Fulfillment came when the cattle were weighed and loaded on a string of railroad cars headed north. Those years were where he learned the lessons of the range and range people. “Treat everyone how you would want to be treated and work as hard as it takes to get the job done.”
When the time came for a higher education, off he went to New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. That move offered him the opportunity to meet his future wife, Lauren. They married during those college years and returned to the ranch to start their life together. That union has brought children Justin and Tami Jo. Justin married Michelle and Tami Jo married Phil Treadwell. These combined families now have four generations working the ranges of Southwestern New Mexico.
Lauren Nunn, the keeper of all things communicated, says, “Joe Bill has made sure the family comes out ahead on cattle, even when the numbers should not add up.” One neighbor says Joe Bill is always crunching the numbers, always “figuring”. They have a ranch office computer, un-used by Joe Bill, who uses his many notebooks for record and note keeping.
Lauren says friends like Bill Humpfries and the Lee’s, Charlie and Bebo, have kept Joe Bill at work as a strong advocate for all livestock issues with the New Mexico legislature. His cattle judging abilities have also kept the calls coming for his expertise. He has been honored as the New Mexico Cow Belle’s Man of the year.
Joe Bill has devoted countless miles of travel on behalf of the New Mexico Cattle Raiser’s Association, the State Land Advisory Board, the New Mexico Public Lands Council and the Southwest Grazing Association. These efforts will benefit his grandchildren’s children when their time comes to carry on in the Nunn family legacy.