Oct 9, 2009
by WLJ

Kenneth Phillip Ochs

Kenneth Phillip Ochs died Sept. 25 in Colorado Springs, CO. Ken was born in the family home on Feb. 6, 1930, the fourth child of David and Matilda Emma (Strecker) Ochs, at Russell, KS. Ken grew up in Russell, raised by his father until his father’s death, after which his sister, Ruth, and her husband, Don Wolfe, assumed his father’s role. Ken received his formal education in Russell public schools and graduated as class salutatorian. He joined Trinity Methodist Church, which in later years he would credit for having a profound effect on his life.

Ken enrolled at the University of Kansas in 1948 and became a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, which later inducted him into its Hall of Fame. During his sophomore year, Ken met Dolores (Dee) Mausolf, an Alpha Delta Phi Sorority girl from Albert, KS. They married upon their graduations in 1952. Shortly thereafter, Ken was called to active duty in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and served two years as a Commissary Officer.

Upon completing his military service, Ken entered into farming and cattle feeding with his father-in-law, Elmer Mausolf, for a time. Ken and Dee moved from Kansas to Colorado

Springs in 1956. Ken and his brother, Don, bought a small mountain ranch north of Divide, CO, and began raising Hereford cattle, with their brother Harlan joining them in 1958. A year later, the Ochs brothers bought a place south of Fountain, CO, to raise Appaloosa horses. In 1964, Ken joined Larry in commercial real estate brokerage, maintaining his active broker’s license until his death.

In 1972, Ken and his brothers, Harlan, Don and Larry, known as Ochs Brothers, bought a cattle ranch at Gunnison, CO, which they expanded into one of the largest ranching operations in the area. After much research, Ochs Brothers decided to try Canadian Herefords. The infusion of this blood into Ochs Brothers’ commercial herd produced such improvements that the decision was made to become registered Hereford breeders. In 1982, the private treaty purchase of the world-famous James Hole herd was consummated. Two years later, the first Ochs Brothers production bull sale resulted in the highest dollar sale average in the world for numbers sold of any breed, a record that continued almost without interruption to the final sale over two decades later. Their annual sales entertained ever-growing crowds at their ranch socials, cookouts and dances. Attendees received a Christmas card featuring a new Ken Ochs poem and an original illustration, and many kept each card as a treasured memento.

Ken raised good horses, knew pedigrees, enjoyed horse racing and owned horses all of his adult life. He was a poet and published author who wrote much about horses, ranching, western heritage and history. Ken made hundreds of friends in the livestock industry all across the world and was proud to have judged the National Hereford Show in England with Jim Hole. He and Dee were the first and only couple to be named Hereford Breeders of Distinction by the Canadian Hereford Association. Ken was also named U.S. Livestock Man of the Year by The Record Stockman in 1999. He testified before Congress on wilderness legislation and worked tirelessly on behalf of ranchers. He was one of the longstanding members of the Pikes Peaks Range Riders and served as president and ride director.

For three years, Ken chaired the committee that determined the highway priorities for the Pikes Peak Region and presented those priorities to the state highway commission. He helped keep the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs and served as a trustee for many years. Ken was a benefactor of the Fort Wallace Museum in western Kansas.

He was instrumental in the conception, design, artist selection and fund raising for the Pikes Peak Range Rider statue in downtown Colorado Springs and the Kit Carson statue at Fort Carson. He received the prestigious Fort Carson Good Neighbor Award for 2001.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Ruth, and her husband, Don Wolfe, his brother, Lawrence (Larry) Ochs, and Ken’s daughter Cecilia Ochs. Survivors include his wife, Dolores (Dee) Ochs; his son, Brad (Kristin) and their children, Susie Bracewell (Ryan), and great-grandson, (Ryder), Wes and Mike Ochs; his daughter, Amy Ochs (Don Johnson) and their children, Nicole Schnapp (Ryan), Daniel, Jordan, Maty and Molly Montoya, and Garrett and Eric Johnson; and other family members including 10 nieces and nephews and their children.

Services were held at First United Methodist Church on Oct. 3. The family requests memorial contributions be made to Ecumenical Social Ministries, c/o First United Methodist Church, 420 N. Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, or the charity of your choice.