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Linda Kay Pratt

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Beef business pioneer, entrepreneur and museum owner, Linda Kay Pratt, 79, of rural Canyon, Texas, passed away on Sunday, January 1, 2023.

A Memorial Service was held on Friday, January 6 at 2:00 pm at Crossroads Country Church with Pastor Bob Miller officiating. Graveside Services and Burial were on Sunday, January 8 at 11:00 am at Pappin Cemetery in rural Osage County near Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The family received friends for visitation on Thursday, January 5 from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Brooks Funeral Home Chapel in Canyon. The family also had a visitation on Saturday, January 7 at Kendrick McCartney Johnson Funeral Home from 5:00 - 7:00 pm in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Arrangements are by Brooks Funeral Directors.

Linda Kay Brooks was born on September 19, 1943 in Maud, Oklahoma, to Floyd “Red” Brooks and Frances (Taylor) Brooks. She was reared in rural Osage County on the famous Chapman-Barnard Ranch in the beautiful, rolling, bluestem-grass cattle country north of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with sisters Laura, Jo and Judy. She grew up in a simple two-room house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. She attended the single-teacher, one-room, all-grades, rural Pearsonia School through the 8th grade. Linda grew up in the ranching life with her father cowboying on the ranch and her mother the ranch cook. Times were lean and were marked by bare feet, pots of beans and rabbit or squirrel for dinner meat, but the times were also carefree and happy.

As a girl, she was a bib overalls-clad tomboy hating to wear dresses or go to school and struggled with dyslexia. Instead, she often prowled the ranch, fed cattle and hunted with her beloved “Daddy” who called her “Wendy.” She showed 4-H calves, helped with country chores, played with her sisters, ran through the woods, climbed trees, fished in the creeks and ponds and tended the kitchen garden. Sundays were family gathering days filled with story-telling, songs and lots of laughter. A desire for the simple life and things, family and a strong, life-long work ethic was deeply engrained in her.

Linda left the ranch, marrying young, moving to Pawhuska and having two sons, Freddie and Bryan. After that marriage, times were difficult and she worked in retails sales and waitressed. Then she met a quiet, kind-hearted young country boy at the local dance hall. Despite his disapproving parents, they quickly fell in love. And after a tumultuous break up, he tracked her down and proposed marriage as soon as he found her. Linda married the love of her life, William C. “Bill” Pratt, in Fort Collins, Colorado, on November 10, 1963. Their deep-founded love sustained them for the next 57 years.

Money and anything else was scarce in the early years often with not enough to eat. They struggled. After son Glen was born, Linda moved with her young family to Canyon, Texas, in 1968, to follow Bill’s work selling feed and health products to the burgeoning cattle feed yard industry out on the Great Plains. Linda balanced raising three boys with working as a grocery store checker and later began assisting Bill with administrative duties.

Bill developed a new idea for improved cattle feeding. After much soul searching, Linda supported Bill in leaving his steady job and trying to pursue his business idea. In 1971, Bill and Linda together launched Micro Chemical, Inc. in Amarillo, Texas, based on Bill’s pioneering new technology for delivering the critical, highly-concentrated micro feed ingredients necessary for cattle health, nutrition and gain. They began with an idea, a lot of debt and plenty of nerve. Linda trusted Bill completely. He knew he could be a success with her. They forged ahead with hands held tightly and only themselves as the employees. Linda helped Bill apply his philosophy of combining unique, patented technology, consumable feed and health products and service all from one company. This had not occurred before in the feedlot industry. “Micro,” as it became known, took off and grew phenomenally across the plains and western states with this novel approach. With her ranch-raised work ethic, Linda got her hands dirty and helped build and install the first several systems often working through the night. She attended Draughn’s Business College in Amarillo to learn office skills.

While Bill was often away building the business, Linda managed the office, employees, accounting, warehousing and product distribution work along with federal regulatory affairs - all while raising a family. Days were long and stressful. She did any and all work needed. She could often be seen loading heavy feed bags on pallets for truck delivery in her dress, hose and heels. Her boundless energy, passion for Bill’s dream and very real fear of continued poverty animated her relentless drive for success. As Micro grew through the years, Linda served Bill tirelessly as wise counsel and as an excellent judge of character, all while watching how every penny was earned and spent. Her dynamic personality endeared her to co-workers and customers as Bill and Linda’s “Micro Family” grew.

Success came over the years with hard work and lessons learned. Linda helped Bill launch other business ventures such as Amarillo Steel Fabricators in Texas and Bluestem Ford, Pawhuska Dozer, Latigo Oil and Panther Lake Ranch in Oklahoma. Linda relished the frequent trips back home to the Oklahoma she loved and her family there. With great satisfaction, she now had her own ranch and made her hard-working cowboy “Daddy” she loved so much the ranch Foreman and her “Mama” the unofficial ranch cook whose duties were now voluntary and performed with love. These were the defining years of her professional life.

Linda’s constant and steady hand guided her sons to honorable manhood with all three working in the family businesses. Her family grew to include seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren each of whom reflects aspects of her. Linda and Bill’s love deepened with every birth. Sons Freddie and Glen and their extended families still live in the Amarillo area. Bill built Linda her dream home near Canyon on a sizable country property. She loved and cared for it attentively. It’s beauty and condition are testament to her exquisite taste and style. She enjoyed decorating and redecorating it. The organization, cleanliness and maintenance of her home was impeccable. Linda made her home the place for family gatherings at holidays, birthdays or anytime. The dinner table, swimming pool and her mother’s ranch-style cooking were the focal points with her backyard-grilled steaks, pots of beans and country fried chicken family favorites. She was the center of life for home and family. She always lived for and put others first, dutifully helping friend and family alike.

Business success and eventual financial security afforded Linda the opportunity to pursue personal interests such as raising American Quarter Horse and Paint Horse show animals. She built facilities for them around her country place. She took riding lessons herself and eventually competed in horse show competitions with great pride especially since she had a childhood fear of horses. She always faced fear head on and never shied away summoning her remarkable will. She even took flying lessons to overcome her fear of flying. Linda enjoyed beautifying her home with gardening, planting flowers and bushes and seeing them grow. Having the grandchildren out for “Baby Boot Camp” was a pleasure along with teaching the youngsters how to drive her pickup in the pasture. She relayed stories of her observations of the wildlife living in and around her yard and pasture that she called the “Wild Kingdom.”

Linda nervously supported Bill in his “daredevil hobbies” of flying and race car driving as well as collecting classic cars. Together, Linda and Bill enjoyed second homes in Oklahoma, Santa Fe and even the Caribbean. Bill often cited Linda as the reason for his success and as his full partner in all endeavors and accomplishments whether in life, love, business or fun. They did everything together as a team - swing dancing to old-time rock and roll or two-stepping to Bob Wills, raising a family, exploring new country, impromptu roads trips, relaxing, enjoying a show, buying horses, working their ranch cattle, running the businesses and cruising on Saturday night in a classic car “looking cool.” Bill said of his life and success, “I couldn’t have done it without my Lindy!”

Micro’s reach expanded into the ranching, packing and retailing sectors and became Micro Beef Technologies in 1999. Micro grew with acquisitions, moved into Canada and the dairy industry. By the time Bill and Linda merged Micro with MWI Veterinary Supply of Boise, Idaho in 2011, Bill’s inventiveness created 88 US and foreign patented inventions. He became known as “The Thomas Edison of the Beef Industry” and the primary reason Amarillo became known as the “Silicon Valley of Beef.” His computerized management systems are still the standard across the US and Canada with an estimated 3/4ths of all fed beef managed by them. Each step of the way though, he had to ask Linda permission to pursue every new business idea. She held him accountable. And Micro grew to be the largest company of its type in the world with 235 employees and over $230,000,000 in annual revenue.

Bill and Linda’s descendant company, Micro Technologies, is headquartered in Amarillo with third generation family still working in the business. Bill and Linda’s contribution to the development of the modern beef industry can rightly be called pioneering as it ushered in a new era in beef production that continues to this day. Their legacy is incalculable, not only for the value created for the industry, but also in the countless people they helped through the years and in the employees they mentored who have gone on to create their own successful businesses. Linda and Bill took great pride in their “graduates” from “Micro University.”

Linda and Bill had finally “made it over the hump,” as they would say of that ever-distant destination of personal and professional success. Linda was able to overcome the deprivations of her impoverished and even undernourished youth and ate anything she wanted and bought any clothes she liked. She became known for her stylish fashions and verve. But she always remained grounded by her simple upbringing, living modestly and always watching every penny fearing the return of poverty.

Her father’s lively personality marked her unique, honest, direct and playful style filled with fun and feistiness. One never knew if they would be greeted with the lash of her tongue or her infectiously humorous teasing. She could be known for hyperbole in her dramatic story telling and would tell “stretchers” for a laugh and high entertainment. Spunky, vivacious, pretty and fun, she could bark when she needed to but was warm, tender and kind underneath. She was often irreverent, but never met a stranger. She left an indelible mark on all whom she met.

Linda and Bill were never ones to stop working. In 2015, they opened “Bill’s Backyard Classics,” a vintage auto museum of Bill’s extensive collection in Amarillo. Linda oversaw operations at the museum and also pursued successful ventures in real estate by flipping houses and selling property. Linda’s buoyant personality was dealt crippling blows with the passing of both son Bryan and her beloved “Billy Lou” in 2020. She was sustained by her faith in the Lord, her loving and supportive family and her own life-long internal constitution. She would often say, “I’ve got grit. I’m a survivor.” Linda was baptized into the Baptist faith and most recently, attended Crossroads Country Church. She assiduously read her Daily Devotional and said her nightly prayer, teaching her grandchildren to do the same. The long days and nights without her son and her husband of 57 years were difficult. But her grief was somewhat assuaged by her ever-living love for Bill and their life joyous life together. Their deep and abiding love was defined by utter commitment and faith in one another. He was a man of his word who lived and built deliberately. She was a true and full partner with grit and heart who gave of herself always.

She served him. He served her. As it should be. Theirs is a true American Love Story and Rags to Riches Story worthy of any other.

An unforgettable and remarkable lady, Linda Kay Pratt passed away suddenly, but peacefully, at home with family on New Year’s Day. She now makes one last journey back “home” to the Oklahoma of her birth, with her heart no longer broken, to rest in the soft Osage soil next to her Bill and her “Daddy” for eternity in her family’s small, rural cemetery near where she grew up with the comforting surroundings of lowing cattle, pretty wildflowers and the gentle babble of the nearby creek.

The Pratt Family suggests friends to make memorials to Crossroads Country Church, PO Box 50608, Amarillo, TX 79159-0608 and to hug your family, be good to all you meet and make the world better than you found it.

Cards and condolence letters may be sent to Glen Pratt, PO Box 3969, Amarillo, TX 79116.

Posted online on January 05, 2023

Published in Pawhuska Journal-Capital