Services Monday for rancher Roy Heise | RecordCourier.com
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Services Monday for rancher Roy Heise

Staff reports

Described as a man of integrity and diligence, lifetime rancher Roy Heise, 85, died Nov. 9 at Manor Care in Reno.

“He was the last of the real cowboys,” said longtime family friend Dr. Bruce Wallace of Reno.

“He was most at home in the saddle of his horse, looking for a stray calf. He was the epitome of the classic Nevada rancher, who worked from sunup to sundown seven days a week, whose word and handshake were more reliable than any lawyer’s document.”

Heise lived his entire life at the Carson Valley ranch where he was born Aug. 26, 1914. A funeral service will be held at the Carson Valley Methodist Church in Gardnerville at 11 a.m. on Monday with the Rev. Pete Nelson and the Rev. Emil Leising officiating.

His forbears include the Heise and Neddenriep families, who emigrated to the Carson Valley from Germany in the 1860s and ’70s.

In addition to raising cattle on their Valley ranch, the Heise family grazed cattle on federal lands, including the Carson Iceberg Wilderness area at Wolf Creek. He was noted as a premier breeder of purebred sheep and was a top consignor to the prestigious California Wool Growers Association sales for 50 years.

“I think to have to think of him bringing cows home on a cold day out of Wolf Creek,” said Valley rancher Arnold Settelmeyer, “And I have to think of his sons and the fine family he’s raised.

“In regard to Roy Heise, I think we’ve lost another one of his kind of cattlemen in Douglas County. I enjoyed talking to him – and his honesty.”

Always concerned about the preservation of the history of the Valley, he was instrumental in the restoration of the Genoa Courthouse as a museum in the early 1960s. He solicited a significant amount of funds from Valley residents for the museum and served as the Carson Valley Historical Society president for several terms.

Mike Fischer, Gardnerville dentist and former Douglas County Commission chairman and former president of the historical society, recalls that when he first was a member of the society, Heise was president.

“He did a great job,” Fischer said. “He was active and interested, I think, in the history of the Valley because he went so far back in it.”

In those early days of the historical society, Fischer said, after a meeting, members would go out for coffee and pie, what Fischer called a small town kind of thing.

Fischer bought his first few cows from Heise, who trucked them in one morning to Fischer’s place.

“He was just a nice man,” Fischer said. “He was really fun to be around.”

Grace Dangberg, the late Carson Valley historian and member of the early-day pioneering Dangberg family, named Heise a lifetime trustee of the Dangberg Historical Trust, which administers funds for the Genoa museum.

Heise carried mail in the first rerides of the Pony Express and rode on the section between Carson City and Genoa.

As the congregation of the Episcopal church grew in the 1950s, there was a need for a church building. The historic Coventry Cross Chapel was moved from Smith Valley to Minden and placed on land donated by Mr. Heise. He served on its vestry for many years.

Always active in agricultural pursuits, Heise was a member of the National Cattlemen’s Association and the Nevada and California Cattlemen’s Associations. He was a director for the Carson Valley Soil Conservation District and Douglas County Farm Bureau, and he worked with 4-H and FFA members on their livestock projects.

He was appointed by the governor to the State Employment Security Council in the early 1960s.

He is survived by his wife Dorothy, of Gardnerville; sons Frederick of Carmichael, Calif., William of Minden and John of Medford, Ore.; sisters Kathryn Farr of Carmel, Calif., and Alice Nelson of Reno; cousin Clarence Burr of Gardnerville and of F. Heise Land and Livestock Co.; six grandchildren; and his faithful horse, Buck.

Burial will be at Fredericksburg Cemetery, Alpine County, Calif. Memorial contributions may be made to the Genoa Courthouse Museum, P.O. Box 311, Genoa 89411.