Tony Vagneur: ‘Jonesie’ remembered for his hardy laugh, bad directions and a true lasso | AspenTimes.com
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Tony Vagneur: ‘Jonesie’ remembered for his hardy laugh, bad directions and a true lasso

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

It seems lately that every weekend has a memorial service for someone we knew. This past Sunday we honored the memory of Kent Jones, 60, a treasured member of the Vagneur clan, his mother, Virginia, being a third generation Woody Creeker.

Kent left the valley years ago and made a home for himself, his wife, Jami, and their family in Loma, Colorado. Yeah, I know, have you ever been to Loma? It’s a different world down there, one that stirred my envy bone a bit.

Driving to the Absolute Prestige Ranch in the middle of agriculture country, the first thing you notice is that everyone does drive, because to walk, you’d go through a pair of hiking boots before you ever got there. The parking is in someone’s old hayfield because no one drives a Prius, Mini Cooper or other small car. Pickups and SUVs were in the majority, and even with three or four in most vehicles, it takes a lot of room to park the rigs of what seemed to be about 300 people milling around before the service.



“Jonesie“ as he was affectionately called, Kent grew up in Woody Creek, the second son of the developers of the “new” Woody Creek Store and Trailer Park. The store, as many of you know, is now the home of the Woody Creek Tavern. Kent, his older brother Clark, and their dad, Lee, were prolific steer ropers and kept their horses on the south side of the property, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Many evenings we’d all rope together up at the W/J or at the arena on the Vagneur ranch. Kent wasn’t yet a teenager, it doesn’t seem.

He came to work for me one late winter, when he was still in his early 20s and I was running the only solid waste game in town. That kid was a powerhouse, barrel-chested and strong and always smiling or laughing. Spring came around and one Monday, Kent strolled into the office, informing us he’d won $1,200 roping over the weekend. It sounded impressive, but I had to ask, “How much did you spend on entry fees.” As he ducked out the door, he replied with a laugh, “Only $1,500.” It was hard to tell if he was serious, but that cowboy loved to rope.




One day that same spring, he didn’t show up for work. He’d never missed before. Where the hell did he go, I wondered? Turns out Kent and some of the other Vagneurs got to talking at roping practice the night before, and decided to brand calves the next day. It was a spur of the moment thing, no one mentioned it to me and even though I was more than a little irritated with Kent, I had to recognize that if I hadn’t been the boss, I’d likely have gone with him.

One year, Kent and John Vagneur (JW — he and Kent were like twins) invited me to use their hunting camp anytime if needed or to join them for the hunt. “It’s in the bottom of Fly Camp,” one of them said, “you’re always welcome.”

After a serious snow storm, a lady friend and I were riding around in that country, about seven miles from civilization; it was very cold, the snow was deep and slick, and on a steep, her horse fell and rolled her in the snow. She was OK, but wet and getting colder by the minute. We were close to Kent and JW’s camp, so we headed that way.

The trail we were on came out at the bottom of Fly Camp and right there across the creek was a big wall tent, hitching rail out front, and a warm wood stove burning inside. It fit the description. Naturally, everyone was out hunting. We tied up, put more wood on the fire, drank some of their whiskey and got toasty warm in the friendly ambiance. Out loud, we thanked them for the life saver it was.

Some days later, as I was thanking JW for the hospitality, he let out a big guffaw, telling me between laughs, that wasn’t their camp at all. Theirs was up the creek another couple hundred yards, fairly well off the beaten path. Was there suspicion I might have been set up?

Kent never let me forget that case of mistaken camps. Years later, I was headed to his house in Loma to pick something up for JW, and Kent, as he was giving me directions, got that flash of brilliance in his eyes with a mischievous grin crossing his face. “It’s not like finding our hunting camp, Tony. You’ll have better luck this time.”

Whatever loop you’re throwing, Kent, I’m sure it’s straight and true. Keep the camp stove warm, I’ll get there eventually.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.


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