Monday, August 16, 2021

Hazel M. Kalland 1948-2021

March 2, 1948 – August 2, 2021

Hugo, Colorado

Hazel Maude Kalland rode her final trail in Parker, Colorado on August 2, 2021. Like most of her trails, we aren’t sure how she got there, but she rode it her way and didn’t wait for anyone else to be ready. She was 73 years old at the time of her departure.

She was born in Burbank, California on March 2, 1948 to a true cowboy and cattleman and a woman who served as one of the first women in the US Marines and later became a nationally ranked endurance rider. The combination taught her to appreciate good horses, good horsemanship, and hard work. Her young years were spent riding and competing in rodeo and horse events as well as working on the ranch. The homesteading spirit of her grandparents stuck with her and she searched for new adventures all her life and she lived by the Cowboy Code.

She was most at home on the back of a horse. She rode more miles than she walked and loved the mountains of Colorado and the hills of California. That love for wide open spaces always drove her career choices, most aptly defined as “Do Whatever It Takes” to make a life for her and her four children. There was no job that she wasn’t proud of – from the medical profession where she was a medical, dental, and veterinarian assistant, archeology and paleontology, to vacuum cleaner salesman, hunting camp guide and cook, ski resort transit driver, special education assistant, and feedlot rider. When there were no jobs, she made her own, like the time she created a food truck to serve the wind farm workers or when she established a small business to harvest wild sage to create smudge sticks in honor of the native tradition. However, all of these were bridges so she could fulfil her true calling of being a Cowboy (or cowboygirl as she sometimes called it) before hanging up her saddle in 2017.

She rode pool for ranchers for more than 20 years, in a job that she loved and served with honor and integrity. She believed that you needed to work just as hard when no one was looking and to do things right. Responsible for range management and natural resource stewardship before it was popular, she managed up to 1,700 head of cattle on National Forest and BLM lands over thousands of acres in Norwood, Gunnison, Hotchkiss, Silt, and Paonia, Colorado. Her favorite of these was the Leroux Creek Pool in Hotchkiss where she rode for more than ten years, made lifelong friends, and showed doubters that yes, a woman can do this job and do it well. She did on her own, with a few loyal dogs and a long line of horses that she trained, and a few mules who let her pretend she was in charge. Her greatest pride was having her grandson and protégé Tyler ride with her during this time as he “learned more about cows before he was ten than most people do in their lives.”

A true competitor in her younger days, she enjoyed every type of horse contest. She produced and managed youth rodeos in the Montrose area for years, establishing the San Juan gymkhana club and and Cowgirl Days rodeos. She helped create and competed in the Norwood Roping Club, later winning a championship buckle in what was one of the highlights of her life. Once she mastered that she moved into endurance riding, competing in and winning several 25, 50, and 100-mile horse races. Her advice to her kids was instilled at an early age “whatever you do, do it well, do it right, and don’t look back.” She was also a realist, encouraging us to “know when you’re bucked off and get clear.”

She is survived by her children: James Waggoner of Tulare CA, Lea Anne Waggoner Russell (Rob) of Elizabeth CO, Danette Waggoner of Kit Carson CO, Shawn Pinnt (Stephanie) of Palisade CO – or collectively known when she was in a hurry as “JimmyLeaAnneDanetteShawnDammit!”

She took great pride in her grandchildren: Tyler Bettencourt (Landi), Logan Waggoner, Reese Waggoner, Kallie Russell, and Kenzie Waggoner. She is also survived by her sisters Erica Lewis (Spicer) and Phyllis DuVal, stepmom Janet Kalland, nephews Brandt Buffham (Debbie), Tater Sanders, Cody Buffham (Aliene), niece Raquel Buffham, and her little bugs Sage and Aspyn.

Her life was enriched by amazing friends who understood her and loved her. They called her a 24-7 friend and “one-of-a-kind,” but mostly, she is one they wanted to ride herd with. While she had a great deal of respect for those who serve, she wouldn’t have hesitated to hide any one of those friends from the law without asking why. That loyalty to her friends defined her character and when looking back on her life she said, “I had great loves and great friends that I loved, and that says a lot.”

She is preceded by her sisters Goodi Sanders, Norma Kalland, mother Bernice Kalland, and father Norman Kalland. There is no doubt in our minds that they were waiting for her with a string of exceedingly good horses and we that will continue to hear them as they ride the thunder before the rain.

We will miss her beyond measure.

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