Leondro “Lee” Martinez
Born and raised on a “little” ranch out of Ocate, New Mexico, Lee left school at the age of fifteen after finishing the 8th grade and set out to be a cowboy.
He hired on for the big outfits as a horse breaker around Springer and Cimarron, New Mexico. The Diamond A, the CS, and the Moreno Ranches. At the Diamond A Ranch, he was making $50 per month as a cowboy. They needed a rough string rider, so Lee took the job, as it paid $60 a month, $10 more.
They wintered one winter in a cow camp where the roof of the rock house had collapsed. Lee and 2 others hung sacks and tarps on the roof and cooked their meals inside until the smoke would run them outside. He gathered wild horses for the CBC in Wyoming and South Dakota.
Lee and his wife, Esther, moved their family to Thermopolis in 1954. He cowboyed for the Sanford Ranches and the Arapahoe Ranch until he retired in 1980. He would help neighbors brand, ship and gather cattle. Lee often said “he never had a job in his whole life, he enjoyed cattle and horses so much he never considered it a job.”
Lee took pride in his cowboying and taught many young men the art of handling horses and cattle. He had pride in gathering and corralling wild cattle.
Lee was known as a good cowboy and a good stockman. He could read cattle and horses with the best of men. He often told his sons, Frank and Lee, if a horse was real humpy in the morning, to ride and be careful until the horse would “crap”, then he knew the horse would probably be good all day. It was often said he was part horse and part cow. He could work cattle out on the open range all day and never spill a critter, he had patience with cows and horses.
Lee died in January 1985 at the age of 72, and is buried next to lovely wife Esther in Thermopolis Wyoming. He was still riding, gathering and shipping cattle up to three weeks before he passed away.