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Thankful for the sunset

Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley Published on 30 June 2014

For the first time in Progressive Dairyman’s history, we’ve lost one of our own. Former employee and graphic designer Leon “Randy” Hale passed away at the end of May. He was 70.

Readers of our Northwest and Southwest editions will recognize some of his designs, which remain in publication today. Randy designed the sunset headers that appear on the cover pages of our western regional inserts. (For those of you who don’t see these each issue, one of them has been included here.)

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sunset graphic

When I first arrived at Progressive Dairyman , one of my first memories was meeting with Randy. He gave me a detailed description as to why the sunset graphics were designed they way they were – with their colors and gradients.

He challenged me to compare the graphics to any sunset in the West. He said I’d find they were true to real life. The man who had spent most of his life designing theater stages and exhibits to look realistic, and only near the end of his career switched to print design, got these sunsets spot on.

I thought again about Randy’s challenge most recently in early June while out among the sagebrush of the Idaho wilderness. Our church sponsored a 50/20 hike for the young men of our youth group.

Leaders and boys attempted to walk 50 consecutive miles in 20 hours. Let me tell you it’s no easy feat.

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We started walking at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. After five hours of kicking up powdery dust in Idaho’s desert, I looked back to observe the setting sun at near mile 13 of the journey. As I have observed before, that night’s Northwestern sunset with its blueish-orange gradients was nearly identical to the one that Randy had free-handed on his computer.

I thought of him at that moment. As I did, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up and thought for a moment that Randy might be smiling down from heaven. More than others I’ve met, he loved feeling needed and appreciated.

Eight hours later when the sunrise cracked over the horizon, I was no longer in the wilderness but on pavement headed back toward Jerome, Idaho, and the finish line of our 50/20. That sunrise was a welcome sight.

After more than 15 hours of steady walking and no sleep, my feet had one pace – slow and excruciating. Without really any reason nor ability to stop myself, tears emerged from my eyes at that moment. I committed to finish for my two young sons. If they knew their dad could do hard things, perhaps it would help motivate them later in life to do hard things too.

I did cross the finish line later that morning, having felt motivated during the 20 hours by many – both living and passed on. Thanks, Randy, for pointing out the beauty along the way. We will miss you. PD

  • Walt Cooley

  • Editor-in-chief
  • Progressive Dairyman
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