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


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Montgomery Noelke

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Mark Johnson

January 22, 2021

Aunt Margie and my mother were sisters and Uncle Sonny was the best. I grew up thinking he was normal and just family. I was wrong, he was a very unique person. When my father and mother and all my brothers and cousins got together it was a party that would happen several times a year. My father somtimes flew us in and would land on the polo field. I remember the mesquite thorn that punsured the plane’s tire. They set off on a quest to fix a flat in Mertzon with one gas station. We left with a present, our dog Peanuts, a puppy from Popcorn. We always buzed the house when we left.

He taught me how to burn the trash by saying that the Indians could burn the trash using only one match. While I I was watching the flames and only using one kitchen match, I wondered where the Indians got matches from, they used flint.

He taught me how to drink from a windmill when the wind was not blowing and how to drink from a rusty cup without letting mom know.

He would call us girls and give us Indian names. At the age of eight, I got bit by the shetland pony, Johnny, that my cousin Mont was riding. I was riding Polywog. Back at the corral, he gave me the name, Horse Bit Johnson.

I learned how to shoot and hunt and ride like a real cowboy. When I was nine I came back to the ranch the next year we went riding but I did not want to do it again and get bit again. Uncle Sonny brought out the full size chaps and tried to convince me that the chaps would protect me. I looked a the chaps and realized the chaps would be usless protection from Johnny. I made him happy and rode Polywog, again with my cousin Mont on Johnny. When Johnny started nipping Polywog, He got my shoe in his nose and he backed off. A few more times and he gave up. I got back on the horse and solved my problem and kept my uncle happy.

I have read many of his stories and they are special to me because I knew the people and places he was writing about and they had special meaning to me.

Horse Bit Johnson

Tony Howard

November 29, 2016

My wife and I were in town for the big game on Thanksgiving weekend and were saddened to learn of Mr. Noelke's passing. We and a few family members and friends hunted deer and wild turkey on his upper Vinson pasture from 1992-1998. It was a pleasure to know him, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May God bless you all.

L E Sawyer

February 27, 2013

He shared his kitchen table, a bottle of mineral water and many fine stories one day at his home in Mertzon. It was an inspiration to know such a kind and generous gentleman.

Toney Aid

December 28, 2012

The Store- 28/12/12

Monte, Doc and I are waiting for one more postcard. See if St. Peter will mail it for you. Toney

Dwight Luna

December 21, 2012

Lost a friend we hadn't met yet. Monte and I had discussed the merits of Los Potrillos restaurant in Santa Fe,"Sounds like they named it after the skillet they fry tortillas in." he commented.
When the postal service threatened to close our small post office, Monte and I shared thoughts on rural post offices where the clerks read postcards from our grandkids.
Thought that perhaps we would meet in person along the trail. Sorry to miss that chance.... Dwight Luna

Charles Rodenberger

December 20, 2012

I will miss Monte's columns in The Livestock Weekly. I felt like I knew him personally from reading his columns. We had much in common.

Paul Krause

December 17, 2012

My condolences to the Noelke family. I hope Monte fully understood what his work meant to his readers. He was one of kind for sure. I regret not having the opportunity to know him personally.

Allen Chasak

December 17, 2012

I always looked forward to reading his articles in the Livestock Weekly. Peace be with you Noelke family.

Teresa Wendland

December 14, 2012

Upon returning from a trip I was told of Monte's passing and am sorry to have missed the service. Mr. Noelke was a one of a kind gentleman and such a free spirit and joyful soul. I always loved the bowties, his sense of humor and his Monte-ness in general! I will miss him and am sorry for your loss. Peace and prayers and God's healing to the family
Teresa Wendland

Rich & Liz Morton

December 14, 2012

Paula and Nick
Sorry to hear about your Dad's passing. Hope you find solace in lots of wonderful memories.