Linda Diane Steadman
Linda Steadman, 62, was taken from her family and friends by the High Park Fire on Saturday, June 9, 2012. An astute observer of nature who lived on the Steadman Ranch near Stove Prairie west of Fort Collins and ran cattle there for 42 years, she had been alarmed for months as extreme drought and an unusually warm spring parched the mountains and meadows surrounding her home. Adding to her growing unease had been the return of her beloved hummingbirds two weeks earlier than usual. Severely stunted by the drought and record high temperatures, summer grasses were supplying so little forage that she and her family were feeding hay right up to the time of the fire.
Descended from a long line of intelligent and strong women, Linda was a free spirit, fearlessly independent, brilliantly well-read, and a loyal friend. A collector of books and antiques, Linda devoted her life to her children and grandchildren and to the family ranch. Her animal companions, her dog and her two cats, perished with her in the fire. She loved that ranch more than any other place on earth.
The ranch became a part of Linda’s life in 1954, when her parents purchased the ranch while her U.S. Air Force officer father was assigned for one year to the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder. After the family moved to Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne in 1959, they spent nearly every weekend on the Colorado ranch. That same year Linda adopted her first dog, Rex, a stray Staffordshire terrier. When Vern retired from the USAF at the end of 1962, Veda and Vern moved to the ranch, while Linda continued her education in Ft. Collins.
Shortly after the tragic deaths of her father Vern in 1965 (from a tractor accident at the ranch) and of her brother James, a U.S. Air Force F-4 pilot, declared MIA in Laos in 1971, Linda, still in her early 20s, assumed responsibility for running the Steadman Ranch, a vital working cattle ranch in the northern Colorado Front Range. An excellent horsewoman, Linda would ride horseback all day to check on cattle miles from the home place, as she sustained the strong ranching tradition.
By the mid 1970s, Linda was a single mother raising a girl and two young boys at the same time she operated the ranch. In order to stretch limited earnings from cattle sales and support her young family, she also gardened and raised chickens and ducks. Although resources were limited, Linda is remembered by her daughter-in-law Karen Steadman as one who “did an awesome job with the three kids”.
Linda raised her children with a strong work ethic, instilling in them a love for the land and a commitment to keeping the working ranch in the family. Four generations of Steadmans have now worked the ranch. Her cattle and horses, like the succession of dogs and cats that graced her life, became part of her family.
Linda is survived by her three adult children, Tristram Steadman Post (Larry Duran), Christopher (Karen) Steadman, and Brook Steadman; her eight grandchildren, Paul Post, Megan (Andy) Conley, Helen Duran, Alex, Hanna, Jamie, Jessica and Gabriel Steadman; and great-grandson, Aiden Sam Conley. Her husband Lee Wayman, her sister-in-law Penny Steadman, niece Karin Bridget Steadman, nephew Michael Steadman, great nephew Steadman Brunson, and sister Vivian Steadman also survive. Her mother Veda Steadman preceded her in death last January.
As Karen Steadman further observed, “When you’re a rancher, you live and die by the weather.” Tragically, Linda Steadman died, a great loss to her family and community.
Friends of the family have established a memorial fund in Estes Park. Contributions may be sent to the Steadman Family High Park Fire Relief Fund, c/o First National Bank, P.O. Box 2390, Estes Park, CO 80517. See www.allnutt.com to send a message to Linda’s family.