February 26, 2003
Dean Kinney should be chosen for the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame for many reasons. He was raised on a ranch south of Ainsworth. He enjoyed the rodeo life, riding cows, bareback horses and roping calves. He won the honor of All Around Cowboy a time or two. He was among the leaders in the Nebraska State Rodeo Association bareback competition several years until his rodeo career prematurely ended when a horse reared over in the chute and broke Dean’s back. Following his injury, he judged rodeos and in later years, followed his children and grandchildren through the ranks of high school, amateur and even PRCA rodeos.
In 1960, Dean and his father moved to Bassett and took over the reins of the Bassett Livestock Auction. He was owner/operator of Bassett Livestock Auction for 15 years. According to Bim Nelson, “Dean knew very little about running an auction market but his cunning business sense and hard work took over and cattle receipts grew every year that he owned the barn. He not only sorted cattle but also started the sales and rode many wonderful horses in the ring. In those days, all of the cattle were weighed on a beam scale, so 10 head were always weighed for a test. There was never 9 or 11 that got by Dean or his horse, and many buyers would swear the horse could count!!
During this time, he served a term as President of the Nebraska Livestock Marketing Association. He continued in the cattle business after leaving Bassett Livestock. He was an order buyer for Kay Livestock Company in Omaha traveling the southern and western states. Dean owned several ranches throughout his lifetime.
He and his children could often be found horseback on 20 mile cattle drives. He enjoyed teaching his own children and several other young men about cattle and the hard work of the cowboy. He helped many friends and neighbors with cattle drives and brandings. One cold January, Dean took a few area youth to New Mexico to help him process 1,000 head of steers that he had bought. It was so cold, they had to have fires on the side to keep the vaccine guns from freezing. A brave and trusting Dean, later that night, let those young men take his brand new Lincoln town car out on the town.
Despite his busy lifestyle, Dean always had time for family and friends. He married Marilyn Haszard in 1952 and to this union, 5 children were born. He was a proud grandfather of 9 grandchildren.
After his retirement, Dean could be found twic3e a day at the Range Café telling his close friends how proud he was of his family and their accomplishments. Dean served his country in the Korean War. To Dean, no one was a stranger for long. He befriended everyone he met. He took pride in passing on to everyone the value of hard work, family, honesty and the American Flag. I am proud to nominate my Grandpa to the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame.
He was a role model for cowboys of all ages and was always true to the cowboy way of life. How sad it is to think; he was one of the last of a dying breed.