By Peg Bos | Clovis Museum
Dee Douglas (born 1922) continues to achieve personal and professional goals that inspire and challenge all who know her. She lives in the foothills of Academy. She is known for her grit, determination and humor.
She graced the cover of “Range” Magazine (The cowboy spirit of America’s Outback) in their spring 2003 edition.
The title of her article “A Western Lady” was written by Larry Turner. His sub title: “Dee Douglas is a rancher, wagon master, stock grower, softball player, military aircraft repairer and horse trainer.”
Dee was also featured in “Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West” published in 2012 and authored by Lynda Lanker. Author Larry McMurtry (1985 Pulitzer winning novel “Lonesome Dove”) provided the book’s foreword, Sandra Day O’Connor (former Supreme Court Judge) the introduction and afterword by Maya Angelou (Author and Poetess).
We are quoting a portion of Linda Lanker’s 2003 interview: “During [World] War II, she learned welding, sheet meal and electrical work and hydraulics to help out with the war effort-a regular Rosie the Riveter. Douglas values the freedom and individuality that ranching brings but sees her life disappearing with the next generation. Her stand on aging: “I don’t think about it. I can’t stop it, so I might as well go along with it. I keep on going and doing things. Keep busy and active and the happier you’ll be.”
Dee stated in the “Range” magazine article about her life of “Rosie the Riveter”: “My only sis, Eloise and I worked like men. Actually, we could outwork many men.” Dee’s WWII job is mentioned in the book Into the Night: Hammer Field, Camp Pinedale, Fresno Fairgrounds, Central California in World War II by George F. Gruner (Former Fresno Bee Editor).
In 1996, Dee joined other “wagon masters” to journey from Winnemuccam, NV to Rickreall, OR. Their two-month trip followed the historic Applegate Trail.
In 1846, the Applegate family left Missouri in search of a more southern route than the Oregon Trail. The pioneers (100 wagons) suffered Indian attacks, stretches of desert, raging rivers, cholera and inadequate feed for their cattle.
The 1996 wagon train journeyed through 30 days of desert in Nevada. The federal Bureau of Land management brought in water and hay to sustain the stock. The train would not encounter a city until (200 miles) they arrived in Cedarville, CA.
Dee loved baseball and during the 1950’s was a member of the Fresno Rockets that won the 1953 World Championship women’s softball title. She believes the Geena Davis and Tom Hanks movie “A League of their Own” reflects her traveling days with her team.
Of her marriage to husband Clay: “Stock and critters are my children. My husband and I never had kids. I wanted a baseball team but we never even got to first base…Give me a day in the saddle or driving a team of horses from a wagon seat and I am content.”
She still visits her family’s ranch on Oregon’s fabled Rogue River (near Merlin, OR). She spends summers and autumns there. She enjoys the rustic setting of the log cabin, cooking on a wood stove and the use of kerosene lamps.
Dee states: “I’ll keep active until the day I die and I hope I’m in the saddle when that takes place. Give me a good day in open country with a grand view. Heaven couldn’t be better.”
Dee is an important part of our rich heritage.