Parade to honor Redden, Irby

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GUNNISON, Colo. – The loss of a loved one is always tough.

Folks in the Gunnison Valley were dealt a heavy blow during some of the coldest months of the year. Brett Redden and Dale Irby, both vibrant parts of the community and longtime supporters of the Cattlemen’s Days celebration, died a few months ago, leaving behind a grieving family and a town that mourns their losses as spring rolls into summer.

“Dale and Brett were best friends in school,” said Wendy Redden, Brett’s sister. “They grew up together, ran together. They were both from ranching families at different ends of the valley. For them to pass away at about the same time, it was pretty tough.”

Brett Redden died in early December; Irby passed seven weeks later. Their lives met at a crossroads decades ago, and that friendship remained intact. They will be honorary marshals at this year’s Cattlemen’s Days parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 13.

“I think it’s neat that they are doing it this way,” said Jackson Irby, one of Dale’s two sons. “Dad did so much for this community and did so much for Cattlemen’s Days. He served many years on that board. What’s going to hit everybody the most this year is not having him being the ‘yup-yup’ man during the 4H auction.

“Dad did a lot of the background work for mine and my brother’s 4H projects and even for my girls’ projects. Until I had kids, I didn’t realize how much he did for us. He was still doing it for my girls.”

It’s the way Dale Irby and Brett Redden were raised and how they lived their lives. Both volunteered many years for Cattlemen’s Days, the community’s county fair, and served as that group’s president during their times on the executive board.

“Dale and Brett were integral to Cattlemen’s Days,” said Brad Tutor, president of the volunteer group that is organizing this year’s festival. “They served our community for a long time, and they will be missed. I have no doubt in my mind that if they were here, they’d be involved with this year’s Cattlemen’s Days in some fashion.”

In fact, Brett Redden was recognized last July as the Cattlemen’s Days’ Committeeman of the Year. He was awarded a pair of spurs for his dedication to the event. It’s a memory his family holds to tightly.

“It’s so special that they gave him that award before he died,” Wendy Redden said. “If he were here, he’d be very humbled to be named the parade marshal, just as he was when he was awarded Committeeman of the Year. When he got those Montana Silversmiths spurs last year, he carried those spurs with him in his pickup everywhere he went.

“He didn’t make a big deal of it, but he’d be sitting around and would quietly take that box out and would say, ‘Look at what I got.’ He’d be very humble about it and say that there’s probably more deserving people than him, but in my eyes, I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving.”

While that’s a sister’s take, many others agree with her. As a kid, he was involved in ag-based programs, including FFA and 4H. He carried that same passion and love for his way of life into adulthood, and he did so alongside his longtime friend, Dale Irby. They were heavily involved in 4H and helping the next generation of ranchers and farmers thrive in that setting.

“Dad’s favorite part of Cattlemen’s Days used to be the horseraces,” Jackson Irby said. “He was one of the judges and loved being part of that. He would be humbled and appreciate being named a parade marshal, but he wouldn’t think he deserved it.

“Dad would do anything for anybody, but he wouldn’t want anybody to do that for him. He helped neighbors out even when he was dog tired. I think the thing everybody loved about him, too, was that he always had the best advice. I’ve had several people come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t realize what your dad did for me, but I really appreciate it now.’ ”

The memories their friends and families have will live a long time. They will share them when they gather together, whether at a casual gathering or during Cattlemen’s Days every year.

“The fact that those two are honorary parade marshals is a huge recognition,” Wendy Redden said. “Being a parade marshal is an elite message, and it shows the involvement both of them had in this community and for Cattlemen’s Days. It means a lot to the families.”


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