Third-generation Carson Valley rancher Arnold Settelmeyer, who was known for his integrity and contributions to the community, died Tuesday at his home. He was 67.
"I am stunned and saddened," said Jacques Etchegoyhen, former Douglas County commissioner. "Douglas County just lost one of its patriarchs, someone we all looked up to."
A member of a local pioneering family, Settelmeyer graduated from Douglas High School in 1958 and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where he majored in agricultural engineering technology.
"I remember when Arnold graduated from school. The question at that time was whether he would come back to the valley," said retired rancher Herb Witt. "We were fortunate he came back. Arnold's father was a leader in the valley, and after he died, Arnold took that role."
Settelmeyer served as president of the Federal Land Bank for 10 years and was a member of the Carson Valley Conservation District, the Water Subconservancy District, and Nevada State Conservation Commission.
He was a founding member of the Douglas County Education Foundation and was named Man of the Year by the 20-30 Club.
He was especially proud of his service as chairman of the Douglas County School Board, a position he held for 10 years, said his daughter Annalynn Rieman.
When Witt served as county commissioner in the 1980s, Settelmeyer attended many of those meetings, he said.
"It always amazed me that Arnold rarely had to talk someone down," Witt said. "He was well-versed in the issues, and people listened when he talked.
"It's too bad his life was shortened," he said. "We could have used his leadership for many more years."
Ex-assemblyman Lynn Hettrick said Settelmeyer was a fine man who did not get the recognition he deserved for the contributions he made to this community.
"I was surprised one day when I was at one of the schools," Hettrick said. "A plaque on the wall had the names of school board members and there was Arnold's name.
"He was always helping in the community, but he got little recognition for what he did," he said. "He was a quiet member of the community, someone who was there when people needed help."
Settelmeyer was a third-generation rancher. His grandfather came to Carson Valley in the late 1800s from Germany, a group of immigrants who founded Minden and many ranches in the Valley.
The Settelmeyer ranches were established in the early 1890s.
"We helped my dad scrape the sagebrush off some of it," Settelmeyer once said.
Settelmeyer, his wife, Patricia, son James and daughter Annalynn operated the family's two cattle ranches, located along Highway 395 south of Gardnerville and north of Minden.
Under Settelmeyer's vision, the ranch has grown to include a variety of crops, including garlic seed, onions and carrot seed. Bank stabilization and wildlife enhancement improvements have made it possible for the ranch to offer hunting and fishing resources to diversify income.
A noted spokesman for agriculture, Settelmeyer won a number of awards including Nevada Rancher of the Year from the Nevada Cattlemen's Association, Wildlife Rancher of the year by Carson Valley's Eagles and Agriculture and Rancher of the Year from the Carson Valley Conservation District.
Longtime friend Dan Kaffer said Settelmeyer was a pioneer in new farming techniques, a beloved spokesman for agriculture and patriarch with respect to agriculture.
"Nevada never had a greater steward of the land, nor spokesman for conserving agriculture and the land," said Kaffer. "He was a personal friend who I loved, admired and respected."
In recent conversations Settelmeyer talked about the drought, but he also spoke with pride of his family and the ranch. He especially loved spending time with his three grandchildren, Kaffer said.
The ranch supports a variety of wildlife and during one interview, Settelmeyer pointed out a bald eagle as it ascended on a thermal updraft.
"To me that's neat, to just set your wings and go higher," he once said as a huge bird glided in graceful circles, its wings spread.
"It's been an excellent life in which to raise a family."
Born Jan. 15, 1940, in Palo Alto, Calif., to Arthur Arnold and Grace Settelmeyer, he is survived by wife, Patricia; son James and wife Sherese, daughter Annalynn Rieman and husband Eric; grandchildren Rosealee Rieman, Caitlyn Costa and Sabrina Settelmeyer; and sister Honor Jones of Reno.
• Susie Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 211.