July 25, 1920-March 22, 1966
Gerald (Spec) Aufdengarten was born in Sunrise, Wyoming on July 25, 1920. He was the second son to Herman and Claris Eberspecher Aufdengarten and had one brother, Bernard and two sisters, Angie Aufdengarten Lanka and Leitha Aufdengarten Kwiate. In September 1939, Spec married Lola (Swanson) Aufdengarten. Born to them were Leola Rae Aufdengarten Nielson, Peggy Sue Aufdengarten Simpson, and Ellery Pat Aufdengarten. As a boy, Spec loved working on the family ranch in Wyoming. At the age of 14, he was part of the Civilian Conservation Corp and while associated with this group, helped in the construction of the road that was built on Scottsbluff National Monument. After his marriage, he and Lola lived on ranches around Arthur, Nebraska. During World War II, he enlisted into the Navy and after his discharge returned to Arthur. After returning to Arthur, he had the foresight to begin a very successful propane business and was hauling propane on the day. He passed away at the age of 45, on March 22, 1966, when he was caught in a blizzard. His wife Lola passed away in December of 1996.
Spec was an NSRA cowboy until his death in 1966. At the time of his death, he went to all NSRA rodeos competing in bulldogging and team roping. He was a state champion team roper with his partner Duane Wilson. In his younger days, he roped calves and owned and trained a great rope horse named Ress, which many cowboys rode and won a lot of money on.
Spec won numerous buckles from various rodeos and the year-end Nebraska State Rodeo Association, as well as a saddle for the year end team-tying. Back then, it was “hard and fast” and no dally. Spec put together a fine string of Quarter horse mares and paint horses, too. He was a Director of Team Roping and Bull Dogging for the NSRA during his rodeo career.
Spec’s family now includes three children and twelve grandkids. He would have been happy that his kids and grandkids carried on with his “cowboy ways.” Grandsons Wyatt and Matthew Simpson are the latest to carry on his love for team roping and bulldogging during their high school rodeo careers. His great grandkids Tallyn and Ellery Jett Simpson are now competing in NJHRSA and kids’ rodeos, carrying on the fourth generation of cowboys.
Spec valued his friendships and some of his closest friends were Duane Wilson, Aub Lord, Jim Bixby, Freddie Johnston, Waldo Haythorn, Bob Burgess, Harrison Halligan, Larry Long, Roy O’Mara, and Bob Whitlock.