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Hedgpeth Happenings – Ranchers Retire

Fred and Mieko Radtkey's retirement party
Fred and Mieko Radkey's retirement party

Fred and Mieko Radtkey’s retirement party

January 2015, Sam and Shannon Torres, Hedgpeth Ranch Managers –

This article comes with mixed feelings as we announce the retirement of longtime rancher, Fred Radtkey, and his wife, Mieko. Fred has lived on the property for 71 years, since he was 9 years old!

Fred has been running cattle for many years on the property, and before that, ran sheep. Fred and Mieko have decided that the time has come to retire.

Fred and his family moved to the ranch in 1943. His father worked as the ranch foreman for Theron “Roy” Hedgpeth, who purchased the property in the late 1930’s.

Fred’s parents were Pearl and Ray Radtkey, and they had six children; Ramona, Fred, Bill, Pete, Johnny, and Terry. Johnny and Terry were born after the family moved to the ranch.

Fred and his brother, Bill, would often help out at the Main House for the Hedgpeths. “My brother Bill and I did not have a choice about packing wood for Mrs. H., or milking the two cows; one for me, and one for Bill. Our pay was probably getting to drive up the hill and back by ourselves, not yet teenagers.”

Fred joined the US Navy in 1953. He was stationed at the Atsugi Naval base, in Japan. He met Mieko at a dinner party. They dated for a year, and were married on February 24, 1957. Fred came back to the states about a month after they got married, and Mieko arrived five months later, on July 10, 1957, after getting her visa.

Fred and Mieko had two sons, Harold and James, and raised them on the ranch. Harold and James were able to go to school with their cousins, who lived nearby.

Mr. and Mrs. Hedgpeth sold the ranch in 1956. Fred’s father, Ray, leased the Hedgpeth Ranch from the new owners, Daniel Bros., which included 2,000 head of ewes, plus 100 head of rams. Daniel Bros. kept the ranch just long enough to sell the timber rights, then sold the property to five partners. The main partner was killed in an auto accident, and the ranch went to auction in 1962. James P. Soper III then purchased it on behalf of Soper-Wheeler Company.

Ray Radtkey’s lease had carried over with every property owner. When Fred came back from the service, he went in on the lease with his father. Ray passed away in 1960. Fred’s brother, Pete, then joined Fred on the lease until 1970, when Pete decided to leave the ranch. Fred carried on with the lease himself plus the 2,000 ewes that were still on the ranch.

In 1977, Fred leased the neighboring Hillside Ranch for two years, until their ownership changed. During that time Fred saw his first coyote ever on the Hillside Ranch. Over the years, coyote population increased, preying on the sheep. Fred continued to run sheep on Hedgpeth Ranch until 1987. By that time, the coyotes had whittled the 2,000 head down to less than 1,000. At this point, the sheep were sold and replaced with cattle. Fred continued successfully running cattle on the ranch until he retired in 2014.

Fred and Mieko have decided to retire in the wonderful state of Washington. We are truly going to miss them, and wish them nothing but the best!

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