The Legacy Of 4th Generation Cattle Rancher Rob Krentz Whose Life Was Taken March 27, 2010 Douglas, Arizona
By: Nancy Dale
March 27, 2010 started out like any other day for Sue and Rob Krentz at their sprawling 35,000 acre cattle ranch in Douglas, Arizona. As a fourth generation rancher, Rob Krentz was doing what he loved to do, taking care of the herd, the land, and the wildlife. .
At first light, Rob Krentz and his brother, Phil after discussing what they needed to do that day over breakfast got an early start on their ATV’s, checking the gravity-flow water line Rob’s ancestors installed that traverses over miles of isolated desert basin extending through leased state forest grazing land. Phil and Rob were separated by several miles, traveling in different directions along the water line, about 20 miles from the U.S./Mexican border. About mid-morning, Phil received a cell phone call from Krentz who said he was departing from the usual route “to help an illegal who appeared to be injured.”
This was Rob Krentz’s last communication.
The life and death of Rob Krentz, the man, father, cattle rancher, humanitarian and tragic hero changed Arizona history forever. This tribute is told by Sue Krentz, three years after the tragedy,
When Krentz could not be raised by phone, Phil started back-tracking over Krentz’s trail but could not find any clue to his whereabouts or any sign of his dog, Blue.
Sue Krentz recalls the devastating memories of that fateful day. ”I called the ranch around 6 p.m. from Phoenix where I was visiting family and Frank, our son, told me they could not find Rob; he had been missing all day. I spoke to Rob earlier that morning but when we tried to call his cell phone, there was no answer. Although cell phone connections are spotty here, I knew something was wrong.”
Law enforcement launched a massive search by land and air to try to find Krentz. Finally around midnight, a Cochise County Sheriff Department helicopter crew found Krentz’s body, the ATV, and our dog, Blue. Both had been shot. The Cochise County Sheriff reports said Krentz apparently attempted to return to the ATV after he was shot but lost consciousness. Rob Krentz died of gunshot wounds and Blue had to be put down. Krentz was not robbed and there were no signs of struggle; his gun was still in the holster. The only evidence near his body was footprints leading from the shooting scene across the Mexican border about 20 miles south. Sue Krentz’s neighbor, Ed Ashurst helped law enforcement track the footprints that led into Mexico.
“I live on the ranch bordering the Krentz’s to the east and north,” explains Ed Ashurst. “I can see their home looking out of my front door approximately 10 miles away. The day after Rob’s death, I was involved in tracking the outlaw into Mexico. I saw the outlaw’s footprints where he crossed the border fence.”
Ashurst echoes the concern of other ranchers living near the U.S./Mexican border. “I manage a large cattle ranch in the far southeastern corner of Arizona. I’ve been here for 13 years. My home has been broken into twice. My son’s home has been broken into also. Between us, we have had $20,000 or $30,000 worth of stuff stolen including two ranch pick-ups, a four wheeler, nine firearms (a loaded AK 47), cash, jewelry, all of our credit cards, and driver’s licenses,” Ashurst reiterates. “The Sinaloa Cartel, headed by kingpin Chapo Guzman and others are reaping huge profits doing business along the border.” “Ed manages the ranch where I grew up next door; it changed hands many times after we sold it in 1969,” says Sue.
“We were all living in peace when this awful thing happened,” Sue Krentz emotionally recalls. “Rob never had a chance, he went to help an illegal on our property and he and the dog were shot. The Sheriff Department report suggests that the person(s) who shot Krentz may have been a “scout” or “coyote” for a smuggling organization as the day before the murder, Border Patrol agents arrested 8 smugglers and seized 250 pounds of marijuana on the Krentz ranch, another incident in a continuing saga. “Scouts/coyotes” are hired for approximately $2-3000 to smuggle drugs, human traffic across the border. They maintain a network of surveillance along the “smuggling corridors” of Arizona’s borderland from mountain top forts equipped with satellite phones, night vision gear, and supplies (www.Americanthinker.com).
“It is no different than you coming home and someone is shooting at you in your own yard,” emphasizes Sue Krentz. “Rob was on private property and State land behind locked gates. In this area, there are no homes, no neighbors, but the land belongs to us. You need our permission to be there or a valid hunting license but you still need to ask us if you can cross our property line. Our water line has been cut many times losing 10-40,000 gallons of fresh water. We pay taxes, we pay state grazing fees, we pay for improvements, and we have done the work. The El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol is responsible for patrolling our area in Douglas.”
“All I want the world to know is that Rob was a good, decent, and kind man. He was the type of person to be ten minutes early; he did not drink, had no vices except if you call doing what you love to do on the ranch with his family, a vice,” Sue emphasizes.
The Krentz Family Legacy
As cattle ranchers in Douglas, Arizona, the Krentz family dates back 100 years.
The ranch has been in the family since 1907. “Rob and I are both from ranching families and grew up in Douglas,” explains Sue. “My dad’s family were cattle people,” says Sue. Rob and Sue Krentz, Phil and Carrie bought out the other partners of the ranch from their uncles.
“We use to raise registered Herefords, Charolois, Beefmasters but now about five hundred head of an Angus-cross. We did good. We sell our cattle on Superior Livestock Auction through our representatives, Butch and Amanda Mayfield. We also sell some cattle through Wilcox Livestock auction. In contribution to Rob and the Malpai Borderland Scholarship fund, we have special calf sale twice a year to support the scholarship,” Sue emphasizes.
“Rob was born June 3, 1951 in Douglas, Arizona; the son of Bob and Louise Krentz. He has a sister, Susan Pope and brother-in-law, Louie; brother Phil, sister-in-law Carrie Krentz and nephew, Ben. Rob’s folks are both gone. Rob and I were married July 23, 1977 at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Douglas and we were married 33 years.”
“Rob went to school a couple of years at Apache Elementary that is a one room country school in the San Bernardino Valley about 8 miles north of the ranch. Then he went to school in Douglas and played football for the Douglas High School Bulldogs who were state AAA runner-ups in 1969. Rob went on to Cochise College and the University of Arizona in Tucson graduating with honors in Animal Science. He could rope, fix pipe lines, ride, shoe horses, change a baby’s diaper and hunt. Just a good kind man. He talked everyday to his sister and brother; they were close and he deeply loved them.”
“Rob’s great-grandparents, Julius and Emma Krentz (Rob’s great-grandparents), homesteaded the ranch when Arizona was a U.S. territory. Rob’s grandmother, Sarah Arizona Dugan was born on the USS Arizona steamer coming out of Ireland in 1881. She was born on July 4th 1881 so they named her ‘Arizona.’ The passenger ship was coming out of the Potato Famine, docked at Elis Island and she became a citizen. On the wall it says, ‘Dugan baby born, 7/4/1881.’ Sara traveled across the United States and ended up in Gallop, New Mexico. After she graduated from a private boarding school she met Frank Krentz in Winslow, Arizona. They married, moved to Douglas, and raised 9 kids. He was a butcher by trade and raised cattle to sell beef to the Army stationed in Douglas to secure the border. He died at age 73. We have raised cattle here at the ranch ever since.”
“Rob and I are both from ranching families and grew up in Douglas. My family, the Kimble’s’, homesteaded here in 1919. I was born Susan Kimble on October 31, 1953 to Bill and Louise Kimble. My folks also ranched in the area. In fact, the Krentz Ranch and the Kimble Ranch are neighbors. Rob and I knew each other but we did not date until long after we sold our ranch in 1969,” says Sue.
“We were all raised by parents of the Depression which is why I guess that had such big families. All the children were educated and grew up ‘tough as nails.’ The men, in those days, were all successful. Uncle Stuart Krentz was a State Representative from the Douglas area and served in the Arizona Legislature. He was also a cowboy who worked in the Hoof and Mouth disease program in Mexico. His mom, Sarah Krentz worked in the Arizona Territorial Government in Prescott as a Page before she got married.
“My mom’s dad was a railroad engineer. My parents always fed the ‘hobos’ who rode the rails out West to find any kind of a job. It was hard on everyone. We all worked hard; we washed our clothes in a wringer machine, and hung diapers out to dry. We ironed, not only the diapers but the sheets to prevent polio and other diseases,” Sue describes of her past.
“There are 7 kids in my family, I was number 3. I attended school in Douglas then moved back to the ranch and went to school at Apache for my 7th and 8th grade. I came back to Douglas for high school and graduated in 1972.”
“I went to Cochise College then on to Northern Arizona College majoring in Journalism. One summer I came home and ran into Rob and went out dancing. The rest is history. Ranching is all I know, all that my cousins know, and all that Rob knew.”
Rob Krentz was a multi-faceted person. He was a well-respected, prominent rancher serving as the President of the Cochise-Graham Cattlegrowers’ Association, Chairman of the Whitewater Draw Natural Resources Conservation District, and member of the Malpai Borderlands Group which established a scholarship in his name. Krentz not only had a passion for ranching but as a graduate of the University of Arizona, he placed great emphasis on the importance of receiving an education. All three of the Krentz children attended college, two graduating from New Mexico State University. Krentz served two decades as a member of the School Board for the one-room schoolhouse he attended in Apache, Arizona. He was involved in Future Farmers of America and participated with his family in many events and judging cattle raised by young 4H members. He continued to devote time to educational projects throughout his life such as the Center for Rural Leadership.
In 2007, the Krentz family was inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame for the many contributions they have provided to the cattle industry, community, and people of Arizona.
Aftermath – Unanswered Questions
The Department of Homeland Security offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Krentz’s killer. No one was captured.
In 2013, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act Introduced Senate Bill 1070 which introduced penalties and consequences for illegal aliens who cross into the U.S. It also gave the Sheriff’s Department the ability to arrest illegals for trespassing onto private property and making arrests based on the “show me your papers” provision.
In 2013, eight tethered Aerostat surveillance balloons were stationed along the U.S./Mexican border floating 2,500 feet above the surface to detect and monitor activity. “Even though these balloons are not by my ranch, they do stop the air traffic hauling drugs, but like everything else the program is running out of money,” says Sue Krentz.
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