On a chilly November morning in the mid-1990s my doorbell rang. A fellow I had never seen dressed in camo introduced himself as “Mike Schnipper” from Ohio. He was here with a friend named Tom Laycock and they were hunting the Bottoms and Quivira. They had labs and Chessies, and layout boats and decoys. He said that he had seen my tribute to Bimbo Jack – my Labrador had passed and I put a note in the kiosk on the backside of pool 2.
His dog had also died and he wanted to join the memorial to our dogs. I was honored. I will be eternally grateful to Brian Hanzlick and Karl Grover for allowing that memorial to stand. Gene and Kim have watched over it and Jason has continued to protect it. Most things don’t survive the comings and goings of the Bottoms, but this memorial has.
I hunted with these fellows for many years. Waterfowl and upland game lit their fire. They stayed in Great Bend and took many pounds of Ellinwood Packing back to Ohio. They made friends all over this area and leased ground for their trips. They imported chefs and elegant recipes and sponsored gourmet big game dinners. They came several times each year.
When Mike married Carol, Sandra and I spent a week in Napa Valley sharing their joy. When my son died in 1997 trying to drive a small boat from Boynton Beach in Florida over to Walker Cay, we added him to the memorial. I now have several dogs and cats in that little cemetery. Mike also has other dogs in that spot.
Mike Schnipper did the rodeo circuit, and hunted as hard as anyone I know. He developed severe headaches and apparently was developing a few Alzheimer symptoms. I don’t have words to describe my thoughts when Tom called me a few weeks ago and said that Schnipper ended it with a neat little 38 caliber. We had no clue and I had talked to him on the phone not long before the event. He was very tuned into his and Carol’s health issues. In typical Schnipper fashion, he did it his way. We will miss this man every day until we have no more days. He and Tom and all their friends that they dragged along for so many years added so much to our lives and they contributed to every event possible. There is a huge space in my heart and let me beg any of you that have these thoughts to please give us a chance. Please!
Carol will bring some of his ashes to put with our family. It won’t be easy.
Curran Salter took this picture of the memorial. He and Henry shot a beautiful rooster and set this picture. Jonathan’s grandmother placed the memorial dish years ago – How has it survived? The goodness of this community has been vital for Sandra and me to live our lives here. I thank all of you from my heart for being who you are. Schnipper knew where he belonged.
Make this Thanksgiving a memorial to the special people who have left us. It’s all we can do.
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.