Walter Reed Kolbe
Walter Reed Kolbe passed away in his home on February 6, 2020. He was 83 years old. Walter is survived by his partner Nancy Tollefson of Hereford Arizona, daughters Laura Nelson of Austin, Texas, Susan Kolbe of Phoenix, Arizona, Becky Davis of Phoenix, Arizona, son Daniel Kolbe of Key West, Florida, brother Jim Kolbe of Washington DC., sisters Beth Kolbe of Tucson, Arizona, and Ginny Rousseau of Vail, Arizona. He was predeceased by his wife, May Kolbe, and his brother, John Kolbe of Phoenix, Arizona.
Born in 1936, Winnetka, Illinois to residents Walter William Kolbe and Helen Nevada Reed Kolbe, Walter’s parents sold the family’s Chicago based Reed’s Candy Company in 1946 and moved to Patagonia, Arizona. They owned and operated the Rail X Cattle Ranch and Casa Rosada Guest Resort.
Walter attended grammar school first at the Little Outfit Ranch School in the San Rafael Valley and later in Patagonia, Arizona. He graduated from Patagonia High School in 1954, where Walter was involved in 4H and played football, basketball and ran track. Walter graduated from Iowa State University in 1958 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. At Iowa State, Walter was inducted into the Acacia Fraternity and was a member of Navy ROTC.
Ensign Walter Kolbe reported for duty aboard the Radar Pickett USS Outpost, part of the Distant Early Warning Line. Although Walter received his dream offer of a posting to the USN Submariner Service, Lieutenant (JG) Walter Kolbe heeded the call of family duty and returned home following his 1960 Navy discharge to manage the Rail X Ranch.
Walter became active in local politics. He brought the Young Republicans organization to Santa Cruz County. His life-long commitment to the Republican Party never wavered.
Years following the sale of the family ranch, Walter moved his young family to the Midwest. There he remarried and added another daughter to the family. Walter’s agricultural and maritime background led to a career trading grain and later owning and managing a fleet of tugboats and barges on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
In 1995, with his wife May, Walter embarked on his final career when he purchased the Hereford Dairy from the Nature Conservancy and transformed it into the San Pedro River Inn, a birding-oriented Bed and Breakfast. Walter was a charming and engaging host, with friends local and worldwide. He was an enthusiastic Grandfather and a devoted Lutheran Church member. In 2012, Echoing Hope Ranch, an adult autistic community, purchased the Inn, where residents now enjoy supervised independent living.
Walter passed peacefully in the adobe home he built overlooking the Huachuca Mountains, with Nancy and his daughters by his side.
Walter Reed Kolbe was an adventurer. Traveling worldwide, sailing the Caribbean, visiting friends, enjoying wonderful cuisines and extraordinary sites, Walter had an appetite for life and truly lived the Code of the West.
Memorial contributions in Walter’s memory are directed to Echoing Hope Ranch a 501(c)3, PO Box 4471, Bisbee, Arizona, 85603. <https://Echoinghoperanch.org/donate-today>
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