Larry Licking of rural Camp Crook, SD, 81, died Monday, May 3, 2021, at his Long Pines ranch, watching over the land and animals he loved.
Larry was born Oct. 9, 1939, in Mullen, NE, to Bertha Eldora (Culver) and Lawrence Licking. Larry has two younger brothers, Leonard and Gary. Eldora grew up near Newell, SD, and met Lawrence while he was a government trapper working in the area. They settled on a small ranch 7 miles south of Seneca, NE. Before that, one of their first homes was a shack north of Belle Fourche, SD, near the current junction of South Dakota highways 85 and 168. Approximately nine months later, Larry was born. So perhaps it was his destiny to return to South Dakota.
When Larry was 17, a man named Hanna selling cattle feed stopped at the Licking home. He was from Nebraska but owned a ranch in Harding County, SD. The topic came up that he was going to sell his ranch. Soon, the deal was made, and in 1956, the Licking family moved to the “Jumpoff” place a few miles west of Buffalo, SD, bringing 150 cows and 50 heifers then buying more Hereford cows. His brother Gary owns the Jumpoff place today.
In 1974, the same year that his father died, Larry purchased his first ranch, the Albert Solmane place. In 1978, he sold it and acquired the Carter place. The years had their ups and downs, like they do for all ranchers. Larry had cattle, put sheep out on shares, and even ran wild horses from the BLM. At least one of the mares couldn’t be corralled and ended up in a local rancher’s broodmare band. During the 1980s, Larry had to sell all his cows but that still wasn’t enough. He started trucking, mostly livestock and hay, driving for others and then having his own for about 15 years.
In 1977, Larry married Myra (Uhrig) Beldon and became a stepfather to Tammy, Lori and Garrett. Larry built a log house in Buffalo for his family. Myra died of cancer in 1992. In the fall of 1999, Larry purchased the old Walter White place and it was his home for the rest of his life.
In 2000, Larry met Debra Brown and soon they discovered how much they had in common. They married April 28, 2006. Deb’s son Sterling became a very important part of Larry’s life, assuming more and more of the ranch duties.
Larry always dreamed of having a barrel horse at the National Finals Rodeo. Their first stallion qualified for the Dodge Ram Circuit Finals in barrel racing and held the Badlands Circuit Finals arena record. Today, Long Pines horses include national reined cow horse champions, a world versatility champion, and Ole, who Larry endowed as the “greatest horse that ever lived.”
The cattle, built on Larry’s herd of commercials, has evolved into one of the top Irish Black® and Irish Red® herds in North America. It started when Larry read about the breed in a livestock publication. If you couldn’t find Larry, he was probably out watching the cattle and horses on pasture.
Larry had a way with people and animals. His chickens always seemed to be laying. His hunting dogs could tree everything from porcupines to mountain lions. Festus was Larry’s all-time favorite “but most worthless” dog. Larry and Festus were buried together.
He hoped that people would remember him as a man who did his best to be honest.
Larry is survived by his wife, Debra (Brown); stepchildren, Tamara (Duane) Lei, Lori (Brian) Raber, Garrett (Michele) Belden and Sterling Brown; six grandchildren; numerous great grandchildren; brothers, Leonard (Bonnie) and Gary (Dana); sister-in-law Sharlet (John) Teigen; and brother-in-law Tim (Tracy) Brown.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, parents and three sisters-in-law.