A Tribute to Quentin Dean
When defining the term “jack-of-all-trades”, you will come up with more than one scenario. For this piece I will use: a man of many trades but masters of none. What kind of man becomes a jack-of-all-trades? They are problem solvers with a steadfast determination that propels them forward over any obstacle. When hit by a wall, a jack-of-all-trades immediately analyzes the hold up and then works it out, surpasses it with new methods in tow. But most importantly they will not quit after a failure, they will re-examine and try again at a different angle until the job is completed with satisfactory results. In this manner jack-of-all-trades are able to collect their trades. In other words, a handy, hard-headed man who gets things done while acquiring new skills along the road of life.
Many men in our beautiful area match this description but I want to honor my ‘Daddy’, Clifton Quentin Dean. Quentin, as he goes by, comes from a long line of ‘jacks’-of-all-trades. Quentin’s great granddaddy James Lunsford Dean (Papa Dean) was a master carpenter and built many houses in our area including the lodge in Timberon, NM. George Herman Dean (Daddy Herman) Quentin’s granddaddy was a sheep rancher, he built dirt tanks and roads with horse drawn equipment and entertained everyone he ever met. Herman was also a well-known horse trader. Quentin’s Daddy, Clifton Herman Dean was a sheep rancher, Corrientes rancher, carpenter, and a Trapper Hall of Fame inductee for a lifetime of trapping predators. Clifton must have had a trade in romance as well because after he met Mildred (Millie) Payne at a Weed, NM dance it wasn’t but a mere week before they were married. He then moved her up to their quaint house nestled in a valley called Berlin, in the Broke Offs of the Guadalupe Mountains. Later he built their family home on Crow Flat in order to move closer to school for their five children.
As a young boy Quentin’s ‘no quit’ was already a mile long. In fact, he thought his name was “Quit it! Quentin” due to his ability to keep going, …and going. Not even a stern whoopin’ could stop him. His play as a child was ingeniously creative. He tells a fond memory of scouring the yard fence for holes and weakness, once he was sure it was a fortress, he would release his Beagle mutt, Chance, and then go out the gate and hide in the garage. Next, he would time the little dog until it was able to penetrate the fence and get to him. Other memories include: using his Chihuahua, Ol’ Coffee, for a lion dog, spending days catching his Momma’s house cats by any means possible, he took it upon himself to start and raise a little herd until he was able to have turn out quality enough for his show goats and later again for his show sheep, he trapped every winter for marketable furs, he day worked and build fence for childhood job income, and numerous other money earning or saving opportunities. In school Quentin was not a fan of the classroom. A jack-of-all-trades craves to use their hands along with their brains. Of course, then his favorite subject became Ag. Shop. His Ag. teacher Jim Ballentine was a real gem. He taught Quentin all aspects of the livestock business, as well as, to mechanic and weld. Welding and livestock showing became his passions. Early on, he realized he wanted to make things for himself instead of simply buying them. He knew he wanted to figure out how things started and became what they are and then how do it himself. Like, breeding up his own show stock and helping Fritz Jones (a valued teacher of his) at his welding shop across the street from the Dell City High School. This attitude enabled him to learn how to completely do a variety of tasks.
After graduating Quentin followed his love of ranching into a few job opportunities. He ranched on small scale and took camp jobs on big ranches. Like Clifton, Quentin knew love at first sight when he seen it. He met his soon-to-be wife, Dana Hendrix, who was working in her mother’s, Barbra Hendrix, café in Hope, NM. He tells how he asked her, and only her, to cook him a chicken fried steak because he wanted to test out her cooking. Something his Daddy advised him to do. Dana slyly grins and confesses it wasn’t difficult to turn out a good chicken fried steak because they were frozen, and she only had to fry them up. On their first date Quentin asked Dana when she wanted to get married, she said on Valentine’s Day. The following February 14th they were wed. Soon Quentin found out his new “little wife” could not cook a lick. No matter. She, too, has a ‘no quit’ about her. She soon learned and mastered many recipes and has kept him “fat and happy” ever since. He smiles as he says he would have married her regardless of the steak. The couple just celebrated their 32nd Anniversary.
The Dean’s place on Crow Flat. Nearest is Clifton and Millie’s. Farthest is Quentin and Dana’s.
Growing up Daddy made things happen. He didn’t wait on them. He would go out and find a way to make them happen. For instance, no money simply meant do it without money. You could always trade work for what you needed. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to trade for work because they do not want to do it themselves or do not know how to do it. If we needed hay and couldn’t afford it Daddy would do a welding job for trade. If we needed tin for a barn, Daddy would find a barn needing to be took down for someone and go and do it for a trade in tin. If pens needed built, he would work a trade for some old irrigation pipe to build them with.
-I spent many hours out at the pens talking or singing into those echoing pipes. I definitely wouldn’t have traded them for any brand-new materials specialized for corral building. Besides they did the job brilliantly.
With found and traded for materials and the strength of his back, and with the sweat staining the crown of his old felt hat, Daddy built our homestead. The house, as many folks in the area have seen during our infamous Mother’s Day parties, is the old Crow Flat school house and teacherage, which it so happens that his Papa Dean built in 1923. Quentin wanted the building because of his heritage. He moved the structure from where the Otero county personal had it at the Cienega School lot, back to his land north of Clifton and Millie’s house and then tied it into his and Dana’s trailer house. You would not know that from the looks of it. Quentin was proudly able to buy white tin siding to mold it all into one. For the two rock porches we hauled in big flat rocks or pieces of concrete from the old irrigation ditches around the Dell City area and I even laid some of it myself. Hours of sweat and tears had eventually turned it all into a lovely home. The pattern being, Daddy scrounged, worked, or traded for most of the materials and then he found a way to do it himself without paying for any labor (electrician excluded). Even President Trump would be impressed with Daddy’s talent for “The Art of the Deal”. I laugh now, because my husband and I are taking a Dave Ramsey course and most of what he teaches, Daddy already instilled in me as his father did for him. Work for it, don’t take credit, pay your debts, be happy with what you have, and every dollar counts.
One of Quentin products. Wench truck and flatbed trailer/cattle hauler.
Now for the most part Daddy was not alone. He drug my brother and I around with him. I say “drug” because we didn’t always want to do things the hard way, but I am thankful we did. Daddy taught us to sacrifice now and get everlasting results later. We learned to do skills as children most men will never learn. Our payment was not in cash form, but in a priceless lesson. Daddy has always had a seemingly innate way of pulling wisdom out when a certain moment requires it. However, he is not some prophet or holy teacher, he had been taught and given the same wisdom as a youth or learned it through trialing experience. Knowledge in this way can stay active forever. The parent passes the wisdom to the child and then the circle spins around again. I know how important it is to keep my knowledge active. Thankfully I am blessed to still have Quentin Dean as an example for my husband, myself, and my children. It comes to me that I am purposing that Quentin Dean is flawless. This is not true, unfortunately, but neither am I. Everyone struggles with their own demons, but the jack-of-all-trades works through, around, and with his.
Some of Quentin and Dana’s cows on the Guitar ranch below the Guadalupe Mountains.
To support his family, Quentin was hand at a couple of ranches, trapped predators for the United States Government, served as a farrier to the Pinon area ranchers, bought and ran Fritz’s Welding Shop which became Q&D Welding, started at the ground floor and worked up to supervisor for the Dell City TXDOT division. On the side, he built carports and other structures, did various welding jobs, carpentry, horse breaking, had a goat herd and a few small cattle herds, planted and maintained a field to feed with, did most of his own mechanic work, hauled some gravity defining loads, and built metal art for craft shows. I am sure I am missing more. Quentin would do just about anything to make ends meet. Dana also acquired many skills while seeking better opportunities in the work field. Both of my parents never struggled with the ‘who am I?’ or ‘where do I belong?’ questions because they were too busy working. At the end of the day they are both simply and wonderfully a jack or ‘jane’-of-all-trades.
Quentin and Dana started out with nothing. In the beginning of their married life, they were as poor as one can get while still being under a roof and having the ability to work for a grander future. And that is what they have done, worked. Worked, loved, and prayed. A jack-of-all-trades is in-tune with his surrounding, always looking for opportunities to better themselves. With this comes new skills, personal growth, and life changes. Quentin and Dana are now leasing one of the oldest ranches in our area and have it stocked with plenty of cow/calf pairs. Quentin, with the help of his buddy Mark, runs the place. They have built new pens, ran waterlines to broaden the cattle’s grazing area, and repaired or rebuilt the numerous fence lines. Daddy only calls in the troops (my brother and I and our families) when it comes time to rebuild a long fence, build a complicated structure, run a pipeline, and then to gather and work the cows on a larger scale.
Daddy still avoids buying things new. If he can use previously used materials and save money while still getting the job done, then so be it. Momma lives in Hope near her mother, for the time being. She keeps herself and Daddy in a steady paycheck and medical insurance with her job as the Administrative Assistant at the Artesia Police Department. All her many secretarial jobs and detention officering have paid off. Daddy drives the two- and a half-hour trip once or twice a week to stay a night or two with her. A man has got to be hard-headed to continue those grueling trips, but Quentin says he does it for his two loves, his love for Dana and the love of ranching.
My daddy, Quentin Dean, is the epitome of a jack-of-all-trades. He is one handy, hard-headed man with heart for problem solving and a “no quit” that goes on for days. He is also a dreamer, a faithful man, and is always ready to learn something new and put it to work.
We can all learn a few lessons from a jack-of-all-trades. If you can work for it instead of paying for it, then do so. The lessons learned are more valuable than anything money can buy. Acquire knowledge and pass it on, keep the circle spinning, so our trades and skills do not become a thing of the past. Never quit but instead change lanes or work through it. You do not need to be defined by one shining moment or a one and only career, instead it is good to build on as many parts of yourself as possible. So, I say to y’all, continue and grow. Never be afraid of learning something new. Life is what you make of it.
May God bless the hard-working men and women. -with luv