WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
PEGGY MONZINGO (86)
2005 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Peggy Monzingo was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 1922. She certainly started her life as a city girl. She grew up in St. Louis, lived a short time in Chicago, spent summers in Connecticut and attended boarding schools for her education. After high school graduation, she attended Vassar for a short time.
The first two decades of Peggy's life were a far cry from the next six. (Peggy likes to measure her life in decades). As we move quickly past the first two and examine the next 63 years (or six plus decades) we see the transformation of a city girl into a rancher with a deep, and I mean deep passion for this industry. I dare say nobody can question her passion for the ranching industry.
What got Peggy to Arizona was in 1942 when she married her first husband who had a ranch in Patagonia. It was her move to the Patagonia ranch that started her love affair with the land and livestock. Little did she know that her love with the land and livestock would become the focus of her life from that point on. For 18 years the Lazy RR Ranch in Patagonia was her life. Peggy claims she is a dude, but she was very active working cattle on the rough brushy mountain side of Mount Wrightson. It was a rough piece of country and it took everybody to help bring the cattle off the mountain. She said she was horseback more than she was afoot. It should be noted it was here in Patagonia the ZR Registered cattle herd was started.
I guess you can say that all good things must come to an end. For Peggy the time came when her husband wanted out of the ranching business, but needless to say, Peggy was hooked with no intentions of changing professions. To make a long story short, Peggy needed a place for her cattle, so in 1960, Peggy made a bold decision to go it on her own. She left Patagonia taking her daughter and her cattle and moved to Santa Rosa, New Mexico, to ranch on the banks of the Pecos River.
From 1960 to 1984 (a little more than two decades) Peggy ranched in Santa Rosa, raising and selling good, rock footed, registered Hereford bulls. It was while living and ranching in New Mexico that several of the most important events in Peggy's life took place.
First, in 1962, she married Ed Monzingo, and together they established the ZR Hereford Ranch. Then in 1966 their son, Ed Alan, was born. After 20 years of ranching in New Mexico, Ed and Peggy made the decision to sell their Santa Rosa ranch and move back to Arizona. They moved the ZR Hereford Ranch to a place just outside of Benson where Peggy still lives today. Peggy said she has had very few regrets in life, but one regret was that she only got 26 years of marriage with Ed, as he passed away in 1988.
No story about Peggy Monzingo would be complete without a segment about her son, Ed Alan. Ed Alan has worked on the ZR Hereford Ranch since he graduated from high school in Benson. Peggy flatly says, "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Ed Alan. I would have had to sell out." Ed was born when they were still in Santa Rosa, and as a 6 year old he would try to rope the calves from the back of the pick up as they were putting out winter feed. Ed laughs when he says, "My roping has not got much better."
Today, Ed Alan works the ranch as Peggy has retired from horseback riding. Together, they have a ranch goal to raise the best quality beef on the best natural resources they can care for. Although you can't find Peggy horseback, she is still focused on the stewardship of the land, suffering through the drought, waiting for rain. Peggy said, "Her role today is to keep the books and fuss."
It was at age 70 that Peggy quit working the ranch horseback, so she and Ed Alan decided to open a bed and breakfast at the ranch. They had two rooms to rent with breakfast included. You needed to make a reservation if you wanted dinner. Peggy had two goals with the bed and breakfast, one was to make extra money during the winter months, and the other goal was to tell the ranching story to the guests. For eleven years Peggy cooked and told ranching stories. Peggy said, "Ed Alan was also very good with the guests." Ed Alan said, "Peggy always said too much," About two years ago Peggy said she wasn't cooking anymore, and they shut down the bed and breakfast.
Peggy will never retire; she said she is not interested in playing bridge or going shopping. She has tunnel vision. She is interested in cows. She has a passion for the stewardship of ranching that keeps the land healthy. She says, "It is this focus which may be the reason I'm still alive after eight decades." This drought has been hard on Peggy. She said, "I have never been through one this extensive; one that has gone on in such a devastating manner."
In fact, when I called Peggy to set up my visit to the ranch to interview her for this story, she informed me the tone of my interview would be affected by the amount of rain they had received. Now, I was praying for rain.
I was thankful it did rain in July, so I figured I was in for a good interview. When I arrived at the ranch house Peggy met me at the door and said, "You realize you are talking to a damn dude! Maybe the first to be so honored."
There have been others who have also recognized Peggy with honors. In 1991, she received the top wrangler award from the Arizona Cattlemen's Association. In 1997, she became a member of the Arizona National Pioneer Stockman. In 1999, she was the first recipient of the Arizona State Cowbelles Cattlewoman of the Year Award. Peggy told me how important the Willcox Cowbelles have been to her through the years.
Peggy says, "Awards received are very humbling considering I loved everything I was doing, but they made me feel I belonged and fit into the landscape I had adopted. I could call myself a "damn dude" without shame, proud to have become a part of the greatest business in the world."