A.D. (Pete) Williams died at his home on June 9, just six days before his 88th birthday, following a long battle with cancer. His life in Harney County was filled with rich memories that have seen great changes in this country during his life time.
Born the youngest of four boys to Bert and Sadie Williams on June 15, 1925, in Burns, he grew up in Princeton on his uncle George’s original homestead. Pete’s father at one time was the supervisor at the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge, and his mother cooked there. While staying at the sodhouse on the refuge with his family, Pete, being a young boy of about 6, carved his name and his father’s brand (3F) into the wood of the main building, which is still legible today.
Grades first through fourth were attended in Princeton. He then moved on to schooling in Crane to attend fifth through eighth grades. During high school, he lived in the Crane dorm much of the time until graduating in 1942.
At age 16, after graduating from CUHS, Pete went to work for Pete Obeago in the sheep camp during lambing season. He then hayed for Charlie Beckley, and cleared ground in construction work for Earl Sitz. Some of the sites he prepped for construction included the old Harney District Hospital, the old One-Stop Station, and the Presbyterian Church (he and Argetta were the second couple to be married there).
Pete did a lot of haying at the Bell A and P Ranches. In 1945, the crew was haying a field at the Bell A in the afternoon when a plane flew over with a large banner that read, “The War Is Over.” Haying at that point stopped for the day as everybody was off to celebrate.
In 1953, Jim Poteet, who leased the Bell A, hired Pete and put him in charge of feeding the cattle in the winter. In June 1955, he married Argetta Stidham, who was originally from Clark, Wyo. Argetta worked in the kitchen, cooking for the hay crews and buckaroos. Pete and Argetta then began their life together, which included spending a great amount of time horseback buckarooing at Izee, Riverside, and Catlow Valley, then later in the Wagontire and Glass Buttes areas.
Also in 1955, Jim and Agnes Poteet purchased the ranch 2 1/2 miles east of Burns, which became the LY Ranch.
Pete and Argetta had two children, Letha and Michael. Pete continued to work on the ranch for Jim until Jim’s passing in 1982, whereupon he and Argetta worked for Agnes, who passed away in 1985. Much of the land that was hay meadows was sold, with the remainder of the ranch being turned over to Pete and Argetta, who continued to run it until no longer able to do so. It was then sold to Mike and his wife, Jennifer, and their son, Arly.
In 2008, Pete had been elected Pioneer President, which was much fun for him. It was a time to visit and relive old memories. In the Harney County parade he rode on a hay wagon (as the pioneer president) that was pulled by the old “Johnny Popper” tractor that he’d spent hours driving in years past.
Pete was a very simple man, in that he did not need a lot to make him happy other than family and friends and love of all animals. He treasured his family and spending time with them is what he would rather do over anything. Son-in-law, Willie, provided adventures unknown to Pete, such as rides in his bass boat and sailboat, and at these times, Pete could usually still be seen wearing his cowboy hat and boots. Daughter-in-law, Jennifer, was greatly loved, with her own parents, Gwin and Janice Lawson, quickly becoming treasured family members, and visits from their son, Jessie, enjoyed. No one was prouder of his grandson, Arly, than “Petey” (as nicknamed early by Arly), and though not related, felt that Jennifer’s daughter, Brandy, was a true granddaughter.
Because of the way of life he’d chosen, the entire family did work together alot, doing such things as buckarooing, haying, repairing fence, trapping, branding calves, and the list goes on over the years. Arrowhead hunting, camping, fishing, hunting, occasional trips to the coast and short family getaways were things he had always been eager to do throughout the years. Even many times over the last two to three years as he had become ill, being the family man he was, he still did not want to miss out on outings if at all able to go, while at the same time never complaining.
Pete is survived by his wife, Argetta; daughter, Letha Melton and husband, Willie; son, Mike and wife, Jennifer; grandson, Arly; stepdaughter, Ivy Payne and family; step-granddaughter, Brandy, with children Winter and Jory. Pete is also survived by nephew, Larry Williams, and wife, Cindy.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Howard, Laverne and Everett; and niece, Diane.