David E. Uhl
June 8, 2023
David E. Uhl passed away in San Marino, California, on June 1, 2023, following a short illness. Mr. Uhl, known to most family members and friends as Ed, was born in Kimball, Nebraska, on September 29, 1922. He was the youngest of the five children – Mary, Florence, Alberta, and Dorothy were his sisters – born to David Paul Uhl and Ida Bell Uhl. Early in his childhood, his family moved to Dix, Nebraska to a small farm where his father grew potatoes and had a few animals. Ed went to the rural school nearby and hunted rabbits in the evenings. He experienced not only the Great Depression but also the Great Dust Bowl and remembered his mother blocking the windowsills and doors jams of their house to prevent mounds of dust from accumulating in the house.
In 1938 his family moved to Denver, Colorado, where his father became a real estate agent specializing in ranch properties. He and his family watched the country struggle to recover from the Depression and the gathering of war clouds in Europe. He remembered Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor speech but failed the physical to enlist in the Army. Ed spent the years during WWII as a truck driver delivering material to Army bases and as a taxi driver. During this period of the war, he ran with a wild bunch and developed his considerable card and billiard skills.
His father purchased what was to become the Uhl Ranch in northeast Colorado in 1944 and Ed began his 60 year plus ranching career. Ed married Katherine Jeanne Stewart on March 7, 1948, and their two sons – David and Larry – were born on December 12, 1948, and June 22, 1951. The family raised Hereford cattle as the ranch slowly expanded through purchasing contiguous properties. He seemed happiest with a shovel on his shoulder walking to change the irrigation in the hayfields.
As a side note, one of the early seasonal workers on the ranch was Neal Cassidy, the lead character of "On the Road" and "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" and an original member of the Beat Generation and the Merry Pranksters. On one of their mad, cross country drives Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac stopped at the Uhl Ranch and the visit was then memorialized in "On the Road." Ed maintained a relationship with Neal Cassidy, his wife Carolyn and, to a lesser extent, Jack Kerouac, and Allan Ginsberg until their deaths.
Neither son took up ranching and by 2004, Ed and Jeanne were looking for retirement. Ed was always an avid follower of horse racing and gambling. Ed frequented racetracks throughout the West, and during trips to Las Vegas he perfected his Blackjack card counting skills. This avocation led Ed and Jeanne to build a home in Summerlin, Nevada, where Ed continued for the next 15 years to practice card counting in casinos and his billiards on the pool table in his living room. During this period Ed and Jeanne traveled extensively, mostly by cruises, and on one trip circumnavigated the globe.
After the death of his wife Jeanne in 2015, Ed moved to San Marino California, where he celebrated his 100th birthday with his family last fall. He is survived by his two sons, David and Larry (married to Valerie Casey), and by his three grandchildren, David, Kathryn and Carey, and by his great grandson Jayden.
The family was making plans to have Mr. Uhl's funeral in Denver late next week.