Clyde and Ruth Hess Magee brought a bouncing baby boy into the Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo, Texas in the last days of 1947. Clyde Magee was raised on a farm in Franklinton, Louisiana in Washington Parish. His mother Ruth was raised on the Sitter Ranch south of McLean in Collingsworth County. In 1898 her father George Sitter moved from Illinois and bought the first 20,000 acres of that would eventually be a 35,000 acre ranch. Joe grew up on the Magee ranch south of McLean in Gray County, Texas. Joe represents the fourth generation of Magees in the cattle business. His son Destry represents the fifth and his sons are the sixth generation. The Magee family today lives on the home place in Gray County on the Magee Ranch.
Joe says his fondest childhood memories were of working cattle, team roping, and participating in 4-H programs. His father was in the registered Hereford business and he spent many weekends at stock shows with his dad. His worst memory was of being drug by a runaway horse at age 13. He learned the importance of wearing thin socks with his boots, which he does to this day.
Joe has three sisters, Donna Smith, Marilyn Chavez, and the late Janiece Magee.
Joe met his wife of 50 years, Kay Bradley Magee at a swim party while they were students at West Texas University. Kay was raised outside Dimmitt, Texas on her parent’s farm. They have three children, daughter Misty Hannon, son Destry Magee and wife Katy, daughter Mindy Holwick and husband Cal. Son Destry manages the cattle operations and Misty and Mindy provide much needed moral support! He has seven grandchildren, two of them work on the ranch, Bradley Hannon and Jack Magee. The other grandson Hayden Holwick works on his father’s ranch and helps when needed. Joe’s dream is to have enough country put together for whomever wants to come back and join the operations.
His worst fears include drought and range fires. The Magees have dealt with devastating fires for the last ten years. On March 6, 2017 the family lost their ranch foreman at the Franklin ranch, Cody Crockett who was like a son to the family and also lost a beloved family member Sloan Everett and a dear friend Sydney Wallace.
His fears of the future include the changing political climate and the declining participation rate in agriculture. Only a fraction of our culture know anything about how our country is fed and the aging demographics of the producers is rising. He cannot see a way for young people of today to get started in their own operations.
His greatest pleasures of his life in the cattle business has been the long lasting friendships created. His father died when Joe was 26, so the family friends taught him so much about this business and life in general. Learning the values of integrity and your word being your bond has meant so much to him. One of the most important lessons was taught by the well known cattleman Jess Burner. He introduced Joe to “the slide”. Mr. Burner may not have invented the idea, but he was the first man to teach it to Joe. Many other business lessons came from Mr. Bill Stockstill, who taught him that “you can’t ever get back a poor weigh up, it makes the cattle higher and performance worse”; ”buy ‘em cheap, and sell ‘em high”; and “don’t ever be afraid to take a profit.” That advice was also offered by our award namesake, Foy Proctor, who was known to tell his managers, “never fall in love with your cattle boys, sell ‘em when you make a profit!”.
Joe’s horses are ranch bred and raised from mainly four sixes bloodlines. They are used daily for checking and moving cattle, doctoring, roping and dragging to branding fires during the season. His grandsons are responsible for halter breaking the colts and usually the first to set on their backs. Joe’s favorite horse was named “Cow”. He says Johnny Cash had a boy named “Sue” and I had a horse named “Cow”! Joe met “Cow” when Joe was 15 years old and they grew up together. He rode him for 30 days and “Cow” knew more than Joe did. “Cow” was always smarter than Joe, according to Joe.
Joe believes the rancher was the first environmentalist. If land is not taken care of it won’t take care of you. His goal is to leave his land in better shape than he found it, and to teach is descendants to do the same. With fewer and fewer people in the ranching business multi-generational ranches are more important now than they ever have been. This history and heritage has to be recognized and understood by future generations.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. Joe Magee, our second Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor recipient.