Remembering Wally Stealey — power lobbyist, avid farmer and dear friend

Author: Morgan Smith - October 9, 2017 - Updated: October 9, 2017

Morgan Smith
Morgan Smith

I first met Wally in the late 60s in Adams County when I handled a minor traffic ticket for him. That was the start of a rich and treasured friendship that included both politics and agriculture but was always full of laughter. In fact, as I learned of his death on Oct. 6, I was driving from the Albuquerque airport north to Santa Fe when suddenly the huge Sandia Casino appeared on my right. He would come down to the casino to gamble and we would meet for lunch. He would assure me that he was winning big and I woild never question him. Our last lunch was on April 4 and as sharp as his mind was, his body was obviously failing him.

Despite all our time together in politics in Colorado, what I remember most about Wally was being with him in Nicaragua, a country we both came to love. My wife, Julie and I were involved in helping an educational program there called Empowerment International that was founded by a woman from Lyons, Colorado named Kathy Adams. Wally had a farm and some cattle. We would drive around and he would give me a lesson in agriculture. “Morgan, look at those horses,” he would say. “They’re in knee high grass but they’re still just skin and bones. The grass has no nutrients.”

Legendary Colorado lobbyist Wally Stealey on his farm in Nicaragua. (Photo courtesy Morgan Smith)

Or “Morgan, we found an abandoned well on my property and I have a guy who goes down in it and hauls the dirt out. Imagine what OSHA would think of that. They’d put me in jail.”

Or he would tell me about the oxen he had bought. What for, I would want to ask? Why does a guy from Pueblo, Colorado need two oxen in Granada, Nicaragua? But he was crazy about these animals. When something brings that much happiness to a friend, you just don’t ask questions.

Sadly, I never did get to see the oxen and now it is too late. All I can do is extend my condolences to Sharon and wish the very best for this special friend who brought me so much laughter and wisdom for so many years.

Morgan Smith

Morgan Smith

Morgan Smith served with Steve Hogan in the Colorado House of Representatives in the 1975 and 1976 sessions. He can be reached at Morgan-smith@comcast.net.