Richard (Buddy) and Connie Elze
When Buddy Elze’s grandfather emigrated from Germany, he settled on a Colorado mountain town about 18 miles north of Gunnison. There, he started a family legacy that would first start in coal mining and eventually shift to cattle operations. Buddy was born in that community-turned-ghost-town and went on to raising beef in earnest.
After his formal schooling, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, returning to the Gunnison Valley following his service. He took jobs working as a ranch hand until the 1960s, when he purchased his own property. Herefords came first, but over the years, Buddy replaced them with Black Angus and Angus crosses. The ranch work was and is primarily done by horseback. His teams of draft horses once pulled hay wagons across the fields to feed cattle.
Besides ranching and raising a family, he became involved in Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association and the local Elk’s Lodge. He served as a 4-H leader during the time his children showed horses, and he is a past president of the Cattlemen’s Days Association.
Today, Buddy continues to operate his cow/calf business with the help of one grandson and a few hired hands. During football season, he’s cheering the Denver Broncos.
Connie Randle first met Buddy through a friend while she studied accounting at Western State Colorado University (then Western State College). Raised in nearby Montrose, she followed her father’s footsteps in the number-crunching occupation. She worked for several Gunnison businesses, including a local real estate firm and an insurance company, where she is still employed. Lifelong employment has left her with little time for hobbies, but she enjoys reading when she can.
Buddy and Connie have a son, a daughter, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. Most of the grandchildren showed 4-H calves when they were younger, and the Elzes’ daughter continued the Randle family tradition, becoming an accountant. This year, Cattlemen’s Days will see the second clan of Elzes heading up the celebration parade. Buddy’s brother, Bill, served as Parade Marshal in 2008.
Paul and Gayle Taramarcaz
The Taramarcaz family always considered mountain terrain “home” as far back as Paul’s grandfather and father, who immigrated to the Gunnison Valley from Switzerland in the early 1900s because of the familiar peaks and valleys.
Once here, the family homesteaded and purchased several parcels of property to begin their cattle operations. Paul eventually bought a ranch in Doyleville, where he has made his home for more than 50 years. He and Gayle live in the house that once served as the local post office and general store.
Paul grew up tending cattle, hauling water and raising workhorses. Free time was scarce, but when he could break away from daily chores, he broke young colts and took advantage of winter snow, gliding on homemade wooden skis. He eventually raised his children to know the business of ranching. They became active 4-H members, showing calves each year at the annual fair. Paul himself served as a 4-H leader for a number of years.
Gayle (Mason) is a self-described “cotton picker.” The youngest of 10 siblings, she grew up on a Missouri cotton farm, working the fields with her brothers and sisters and attending a country school. She later moved to Arizona, where she worked as a telephone operator. She and her family relocated to Gunnison in 1964, and she took a local hospital job that would last for 25 years.
She married Paul in 1994 and jumped into the family business, helping with spring calves and moving cows to new pastures by horseback.
Today Gayle is a current member of the Gunnison Valley Cattlewomen and past member of the Gunnison Valley Hospital Auxiliary. She is a veteran behind the sewing machine and enjoys reading and taking walks. Paul remains a member of the Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association and the local Elk’s Lodge. Their ranching operation includes a sizeable herd of Simmental and Charolais cattle.
Patriarch and matriarch to eight children, two dozen grandchildren and a growing number of great grandchildren, they both admit it’s getting hard to remember all those birthdays.