Montgomery Noelke

Obituary of Montgomery Noelke
Montgomery Blackwell Noelke, Jr. of Mertzon, age 84, died peacefully at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas on Thursday, December 6, 2012. He was born June 17, 1928 in San Angelo, to Montgomery Blackwell Noelke Sr. and Nan Lackey (Delong). His stepfather was James Aubrey Delong of Mertzon. Monte attended the University of Texas at Austin. Monte was a longtime resident and rancher in Irion County. He was a West Texas character and literary icon, known not only in the San Angelo area but throughout West Texas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the upper Great Plains. Though his primary profession was cowboy, he sustained a remarkable commitment to, and an intense love of literature. He wrote the weekly “Short Grass Country” column for the West Texas Livestock Weekly paper for over fifty years. His first payment was a white, 16.1 hand horse, named Bluecher, of deeply gentle disposition. Though often humorous, illogical, and fanciful in nature, his columns were also a testament to the often bleak and painful side of the changing West Texas ranching industry. Monte maintained a near religious dedication to the writing of his weekly columns until the very end. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to Bobby Frank and the Livestock Weekly. We also wish to thank his many loyal readers far and wide. Monte, like many of his generation, lived through and survived what is known as “The Time It Never Rained” (Elmer Kelton). Later in life he became a self taught gourmet chef and could be seen in bow ties, English cap, and dapper suits. He traveled the world with the love and light of his life, the poet cowgirl Cheryl Clayton. Often they would pull away from the ranch in predawn, full of anticipation to catch a flight to a writer’s conference in Ireland or head to the Galapagos, Indonesia, or a tent safari in Africa. These were the greatest times of Monte’s life, aside from the times at Monument Ranch. Monte was also a contributor to education and the arts. He was president of the school board in Mertzon for many years. He has been instrumental in the recent renovation and expansion of the Mertzon Library and for the past several years has sponsored a visiting poet to the Mertzon School. His work in Alcoholics Anonymous for thirty five years benefited countless individuals and families. If you knew Monte and find yourself whistling, walking every day, delivering home cooked food to those in need, writing post cards from places as diverse as Mertzon and the Galapagos, or leaving two dollar bills as tips, you will know he is the source of your inspiration. Survivors include Cheryl Clayton, the light of his life and his beloved partner of 23 years; brother, Walter Noelke, and sister, Gretchen Noelke of San Angelo; eight children and spouses/partners: Paula and Nick Starche of Austin, Montgomery Blackwell Noelke III of San Antonio, Fred Noelke of Boulder, Colorado, Lea and Holly Noelke of Austin, John and Lisa Noelke of Pleasant Valley, Connecticut, Ben Noelke and Harper Ray of Austin, Ralph Noelke of Mertzon, and George Noelke and Marlenia Richardson of Austin. He is beloved by his many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Monte was preceded in death by Margaret Brons Noelke his wife of 35 years. Services will be held at 11 AM Monday, December 10, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Mertzon, Texas. Interment will follow at the Mertzon Cemetery. Relatives and friends are welcomed to Johnson’s Funeral Home Chapel for a visitation from 5:30 to 7 PM preceded by a rosary at 5 PM on Sunday December 9. Memorial contributions are welcome at Friends of Irion County Library, Box 654, Mertzon, Texas 76941. Family and friends may sign an online register book at

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