Everyone seems to have a good story to tell about the Dick Robbins they remember from southwest Kansas.
Richard Robbins, Jr. tore into the sale barn in Manhattan, Kansas in his usual rig. Fay Russett was working an unloading area when the red and white Chevrolet, complete with cab-mounted air horns, fox tails and a set of longhorn cattle horns on top zoomed in pulling a full-length stock trailer.
Richard, or Dick as many knew him, unloaded one baby calf out of the trailer and took off.
“Who in the hell was that?” Russett asked a man working with him.
“You don’t know Dickie Robbins?”
Russett’s answer at the time was no, but he would know him eventually, working for him on Robbins’ ranches in Olsburg, Kansas and Belvidere, Kansas at different times in his life.
Dick Robbins passed away Dec. 24, 2018, still with a ranch raising longhorn cattle in Belvidere. Russett told that story at a meal and celebration of Robbins’ life at Buster’s Saloon in Sun City, Kansas Jan. 4 following Robbins’ funeral service at Soldier Creek Cemetery.
Dick Robbins was 76 years old. While he had ranches other places, the Anchor D Ranch near Belvidere had been in his family for generations. The part of the ranch that is now the headquarters had once been the Rockefeller Ranch.
“Frank Rockefeller was J.D.’s brother, kind of a black sheep in the family,” Dick’s brother, Bill Robbins, said. “J.D. was in Cleveland, Ohio, working on Standard Oil and sent Frank out here to start the Rockefeller Ranch.”
The Robbins family was in Belvidere at that time, too. They had neighboring ranches. After incoming railways carved up the 8,000-acre Rockefeller Ranch, Frank tried to sell the depreciated land to no avail, and the Robbins purchased it after he returned to Cleveland.
Dick Robbins raised Angus and Herefords before he fell for longhorns, buying two bulls and two heifers in 1975 at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge longhorn auction in Texas. He frequently returned to the auction, only missing one year between 1975 and 2015 because his truck broke down, according to a 2015 article in the Lawton Constitution newspaper.
“He was just fascinated with them,” Bill Robbins said.
Robbins attended Kansas State University and was known for riding his bike around campus “before it was cool.” His handlebars sported a set of longhorns, and he was known for wearing an Anchor D longhorn hat throughout much of his life.
A group of longhorns were herded past his funeral service at Soldier Creek Cemetery.
Dick Robbins loved Buster’s Saloon, he and Bill had been coming there since they were young with their father. He was also a collector of comic books in his younger years, and a lover of poetry throughout his life — being able to recite many poems verbatim.
As much as he loved longhorns, poetry, and having fun, Dick Robbins loved people. At the celebration Jan. 4, many told stories about his antics, his gentlemanly acts and his efforts to help others.
An article in the Rapid City in Rapid City, South Dakota tells of how Dick Robbins heard of a Miss Rodeo America contestant’s plan to buy a blue roan longhorn at a local auction. Amy Amack planned to by the longhorn and use its hide for a unique pair of hair-on chaps to wear at the 2009 Miss Rodeo America contest in Las Vegas.
Before the longhorn bull entered the sale ring, Dick Robbins introduced himself to Amack, who planned to purchase the bull. When the bull entered the ring, he announced to the crowd that he was starting the bidding at $700, and if he won, he would donate the bull to Amack’s cause.
According to the Rapid City Journal article, no one bid against him, and the crowd cheered when the auctioneer called out “sold.”
Dick Robbins reached a lot of people in his life, evident by stories told at Buster’s and the many comments, shares and reactions to a post about his celebration of life on the Buster’s Saloon Facebook page.
Russett may have summed it up best on Friday.
“You want to talk about stories; everybody’s got a story about Dick,” he said.