Each Jan. 1 is a great day as we kick off a new year, enjoy college football bowl games, and in our family we remember and pay homage to my father-in-law, Hugh Maxell Richardson, who was born on Jan. 1t, 1907, in Eagleville, Missouri, and migrated to Reno via Los Angeles in 1944.
From 1944 to 1968, Richardson managed the Double Diamond Ranch in the southeastern area of the Truckee Meadows and was generally regarded by his peers as one of the most knowledgeable horse and cattle breeders in the United States.
He and ranch owner, Wilbur May of the May Company empire, introduced Aberdeen Angus cattle to the Nevada ranges. The change was a big one at the time because locals were used to seeing only large herds of the red and white Herefords munching on the Nevada meadow grass.
In the late ‘50s, Richardson went to Scotland to seek out a seed bull for the purebred Aberdeen Angus herd being built up at the Double Diamond. While he was there, he selected a 6-month old bull because, as he said upon his return, “the little guy looked pretty stout.”
The bull, Dor-Mac, went on to become the international grand champion of his breed, and stockmen came from all over the world to view him and make arrangements for his frozen semen to be shipped to their ranches to improve the strain of their Angus herds. Dor-Mac became such a personality he had his own road sign hanging below the ranch sign at the entrance to the Double Diamond off South Virginia, now South Meadows Parkway.
In addition to running the Angus herd on the 2,200-acre Double Diamond spread in the spring and summer months, Richardson also managed the winter range for the herd at Galt, California.
Quarter horse breeding was also a specialty at the Double Diamond. With studs having a bloodline back to the legendary Silver King, the ranch was a busy place for other horsemen to bring their mares.
While the Double Diamond was a true “working ranch” it had a rather dichotomous personality, because it also was a showplace and party site for entertaining many of Wilbur May’s worldwide coterie of friends and guests. May, a globetrotting millionaire, always invited world-famous personalities to visit his Nevada ranch. Sporting an ultra-modern ranch house and guest house, complete with swimming pool and tennis court, the May enclave also featured original paintings of famous artists valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One room in the house, a towering two-story affair, contained the May collection of hunting trophies that he had taken on safaris all over the globe.
Part of the collection is currently on view at the May exhibit at Rancho San Rafael in Reno.
Richardson also became a minor celebrity for the Reno area when he was selected to pose for a nationwide ad for Old Hermitage whiskey. Naturally, the Double Diamond was the locale of the photo shoot.
From 1968 to 1972, Richardson returned to his native Midwest and managed the largest corn-hog operation in the state at Grand River, Missouri.
Returning to Reno in 1972, he devoted his time and efforts to buying, training, and racing quarter horses on the California tracks. He died in Reno on Oct. 5,, 1997. Each Jan. 1t, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren all celebrate “Pa” Richardson’s birthday.