Happy Trails Jon L. “Big Jon” Townsend

 A childhood friend passed recentlyjon townsend January 15 2015

 his funeral was today.

 Our families grew up with horses, riding trails, training and showing

 but age and time as usual allowed us to grow apart.

God called home a cowboy, a gentle kind of soul,

 for a higher calling in heaven.

Big Jon as most knew him

 stuffed a lot of life in his short 52 years,

 the youngest of five. Jon was younger than I and ornery than most, IMG_6497sgd Jon Townsends funeral procession from Grand Prarie Church Marion Ohio January 24 2015  his horse Buster

 aside from his brother Jay;

 he was wiry and lanky as a kid with mischief in his eyes.

 Between his older sister, he & I

it seemed we were always accident prone growing up with various busted bones.

It never kept us down at all back up on horses we’d go;

 it’s hard to keep a cowboy down especially with places to go.

 With our casts used as shields to protect us

 we’d mount our trusty steads to ride.

I have many fond memories of childhoodIMG_6500sgd Jon Townsends funeral from Grand Prarie Church  in GrandPrarie cemetery 01 24 2015 Jons horse Buster

 clear up into our teens but

 upon graduation and life we all went our separate trails.

Jon’s life kept him close to the horses along with his wife and his boys.

We’d run into each other a few times over the years

 when walking around the fair.

 A few times by CB radio

 as he was hauling a load in his big rig and my husband & I

 in ours as we were traveling from show to show.

A guy who’d give you a smile or an opinion it didn’t matter.

 He loved to mentor the young ones and give them a stern gentle prod.IMG_6506sgd  Jon Townsends Funeral GrandPrarie Cemetery January 24 2015 Harvey Townsend Jons dad in forground

He was respected, revered and loved for the kind soul that shone from inside.

  As young children growing up we all had our ponies

 and the westerns we portrayed as we rode

 our trusty steads, Sugarfoot, Thunder, Ribbon, & Cricket,

Ginger, Charlie, Susie and many more.

We traveled the trails through the wood

s we hunted bank robbers holed up in the cabin (an old falling down shed in the woods).

That shed doubled as our fort as we stalked Indians and wolves.

We played Cisco, Lone Ranger and Roy as we galloped the trails & the fields.

We sure ripped our legs, face & arms up

 as the brambles reached out & gripped us,

 all the while laughing and playing the dream.

We washed, brushed and practiced our showing

 as we prepared our 4-h projects for fair,

 proudly showing our ribbons of winning with a grin and a horse in tow.

We were rivals in school each proclaiming who’s best

but whoever sang out let’s ride the rivals went by the wayside.IMG_6513sgd Jon Townsend funeral procession January 24 2015 Grand Prarie Cemetery

We rode down the road on our steads

 to the neighbor’s big apple orchard.

 As our ponies would dip their heads down to the ground for an apple

we teetered for balance when we’d slip down their neck

 trying so hard to regain our seat.

 As we graduated from ponies to horses

 it made it easier to snatch that forbidden apple to eat on the way.

 Many times Jon being the youngest he rode double with one of us.

Our whole summers were spent on horseback

 and after school through the fall & winter.

 Our parents spent their days off and vacation

 trailering us to horse shows & fairs.

As I am sure they had other dreams.

We spent long hours cleaning and oiling our leathers, saddles and bridles

 and washing and brushing our horses.IMG_6524sgd Jon Townsend funeral procession January 24 2015 Grandprarie Cemetery

 We studied our 4-H workbooks

and slept over at each other’s houses.

We’d walk the abandoned railroad spur

to the babysitter up the road,

where we’d resume some western themed plight.

 Cheryl was always happy to see us

and she and her brother would join in our play.

We never imagined our destiny as children you think your forever,

as adults you feel you have time.

You’d think being older your time would come first

you never imagined the youngest would blaze that trail first to heaven.

Jon was witty and opinionated

and I’m sure God needed advice,

maybe not quite the way he would like.

I know God is smiling right now for he knows Jon’s the guardian angel

 of his son’s Hayden and little Jon.

Jon turned into quite a horseman

 he won ribbons & medals and such

 with his stallion he rode in many contests.

Big Jon & his wife mentored young children

and showed them the way that was best.

He was tough when he needed but a gentle cream puffIMG_6520sgd Jon Townsend funeral & horse  January 24 2015 Grand Prarie Cemetery marion Oh

with a heart pure as gold.

He was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago

 and fought that big battle with gust.

 With surgeries and trials and ups and downs

 he fought till the very end

 but we all know cancer doesn’t play fair.

  Jon’s funeral and celebration of life was today.

He planned his day to the “T”.

 He shared heartfelt messages to his family and friends

 with a chuckle and grin to the end.

His funeral was befitting a cowboy,

 his rider less horse pranced proud.IMG_6515sgd Jon Townsend funeral procession January 24 2015 Grandprarie Cemetery

 With his boots in the stirrups

 we all stood with pride to have known him

 that he had touched us so deep in our soul.

Big Jon left quite a legacy,

a wife, two fine sons, family and friends.

 God has seen that he has joined his and my father

 and I’m sure they‘re telling some tales

as they all ride the happy trails.

R.I.P. Big Jon Townsend-IMG_6529sgd Jon Townsend funeral procession January 24 2015 Grandprarie Cemetery

December 14, 1962 – January 17, 2015

by Cathy Rollison-Krist

cowboy & cross

Below is a poem “Four Little Words” by Jay Snider a Cowboy poet that I feel sums up Big Jon, my dad and Jon’s dad to a tee. Mr Snider has graciously given me permission to post his wonderful poem. Thank you Jay for your nice little note.

Four Little Words- By Jay Snider

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are getting’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller”, just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller”, just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

©  Jay Snider, All rights reserved
Jay Snider gives permission for the use of this poem for a personal ceremony. You can email Jay.
Please give the author credit when reciting or printing this poem

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