Empire Ranch Foundation

Frank & Mary Boice Family Ownership, 1951-1969

Steve Boice and John Rubel at Arivaca Ranch, 1952. Courtesy of Justin Linder/Faith Boice

Frank Stephen Boice and John Boice Rubel Are Born - 1951

On March 7, 1951 Pancho and Sherry Boice welcomed the arrival of Frank Stephen Boice who was born in Pasadena, CA.  He is called Steve.

That same month Jack and Peggy Rubel became the parents of John Boice Rubel who was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson. Jack and Peggy had returned from California and were assisting with the operation of the Arivaca Ranch.

Victorian Addition family kitchen, 2020.
Victorian Addition living room, 2020
Victorian Addition bay window and dining room windows/doors, 2020

Empire Ranch House Remodeling - 1951

After Frank Mary Boice became sole owners of the Empire Ranch, they remodeled several rooms in the Victorian Addition – the family section of the Empire Ranch House. The family kitchen was modernized with the installation of metal cabinets. The ceilings in the living room and dining room were lowered, wood paneling was installed, and the windows in both rooms were replaced.

Bob and Miriam’s Casita, 2019. ERF archives: D606-640

Bob and Miriam’s Casita - 1951

When Bob and Miriam Boice moved to the Empire Ranch after their marriage, they first lived in the Children’s Addition section of the Empire Ranch House while their own home was made ready. A surplus one-bedroom house from Fort Huachuca was purchased and moved by truck to the Empire Ranch. The house was placed across the drive to the west of the main Ranch House.  Elgin rancher Stone Collie fixed the building, and it was known as Bob and Miriam’s “Casita.”

In 1953 two bedrooms and a bathroom were added to the structure. In 2011 the building was remodeled to serve as the Empire Ranch Foundation’s Visitor Contact Station including a gift shop and provides meeting facilities and storage for the Foundation.

Mary Elizabeth Boice, 1951. ERF archives: B204-6

Mary Elizabeth Boice is Born - 1951

On November 28, 1951 Bob and Miriam Boice became the proud parents of Mary Elizabeth Boice who was born in Tucson.

Mary Elizabeth Boice, 1951. ERF archives: B204-6

Pancho and Sherry Boice Return - 1952

Pancho, Sherry, and baby Steve Boice return to the Empire Ranch from California where Pancho worked as an engineer. Their first home at the Empire Ranch was in the Grove House, located west of the Empire Ranch House on the banks of the Empire Gulch.

Frank and Mary Boice created the Empire Ranch Partnership with sons Frank Stephen and wife Sherry and Robert Grantham and wife Miriam.

Ann Kelley Boice, 1952. Arizona Daily Star photograph.

Fred Boice Graduates and Marries - 1952

Fred Boice graduated from Occidental College in 1952 with a degree in economics. He and Ann Kelley celebrated their engagement in May and were married on December 23, 1952 in the First Congregational Church in Tucson.

Ann Kelley first attended Pomona College and then transferred to the University of Arizona. She was scheduled to graduate from UA in May 1953.

Ann Kelley Boice, 1952. Arizona Daily Star photograph.
John and Tom Rubel, ca. 1954. Courtesy of Lynn Rubel.

Katherine Ann Boice and Thomas Henry Rubel Are Born - 1952

Pancho and Sherry’s second child, Katherine Ann Boice, was born on June 30, 1952 in Tucson. She was known as Kitty.

Henry G. and Margaret Boice welcomed another grandson that year. Thomas Henry Rubel, second son of Jack and Peggy Boice Rubel was born on May 31, 1952.

Mary Elizabeth and Grant Boice, 1953;  ERF archives: B203-03a
Steve, Sherry, and Kitty Boice, 1954. Courtesy of Justin Linder/Faith Boice

Robert Grantham Boice and Sherry Bailey Boice Are Born - 1953

Bob and Miriam Boice’s second child, Robert Grantham Boice, was born on February 10, 1953. He was known as Grant.

Pancho and Sherry Boice’s third child, Sherry Bailey Boice, was born on December 15, 1953.

Norman Hinman on horseback in California, 1950.  ERF archives: B406-105

Norman Hinman - 1953

Norman Hinman worked as a cowhand for the Boice family for four months (May-August) in 1953. He had finished one year of college in California when he decided to do some travelling.  Norman had worked several years for the Russ Cattle Company in California and when he arrived in Tucson, he responded a “work wanted” notice and Bob Boice hired him to work at the Empire Ranch.

Norman worked primarily with David Corrales, the other hired hand, but also with Frank Sr., Pancho, Bob, and other family members depending on the job requirement. Norman was most impressed with the ranch operations, especially the ingenious water tanks and troughs designed and constructed by Frank S. Boice. During his short time at the Empire Ranch Norman assisted with the installation to two of the tanks and troughs.

Dr. James Pickrell, 1953. Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Jim Pickrell, DVM - 1953

Dr. James Pickrell was a veterinarian who worked for the Boice family at the Empire Ranch. Jim went to high school with Pancho and Bob and graduated from the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1953. His first involvement with the Empire Ranch as a veterinarian was when the foreman, Fred Barnett, asked him to perform and complicated castration on a horse. Up until then the Empire Ranch had handled all its own veterinary work. The Empire Ranch became Jim’s first ranch account, and he did mostly work on individual animals and handled their pregnancy testing.

In his oral history Jim notes that the Boices were excellent cattlemen – extremely well respected and smart. Their calving percentage was about 91% under Pancho Boice’s direction. The Boices bred Hereford cattle and developed water sources such as dirt tanks so that cattle would not have to travel many miles for water. They had a fine and healthy herd of horses that were extremely well cared for.

Fred Boice examining grass at Arivaca Ranch, 1959. ERF archives: B203-19

Fred and Ann Boice Move to Arivaca Ranch - 1953

In the summer of 1953 Fred and Ann Boice moved to the Arivaca Ranch to assist in ranch operations. Their first son, Henry Kelley Boice, was born August 5, 1954.

Social times in the Empire Ranch garden and swimming pool area, 1950s. ERF archives: B300-003a

Fun Times at the Empire Ranch - 1954

James (Jim) Kolbe moved to Arizona in 1947 when his parents, Walter and Helen Kolbe, purchased the Rail X Ranch, which was originally part of the Empire Ranch. Jim and his three siblings, Walter, John and Beth, all participated in the work of the ranch.

In his oral history Jim recalls the fun gatherings around the swimming pool at the Empire Ranch. “I also remember going over there for things like Fourth of July and other things – picnics and barbecues, cookouts, and kids running around all over the place, just having a great time. We always loved that.  That was one of the great things about a ranch like that, you had all these outlying barns and horse stables and things like that – great places to hide for hide-and-seek, and playing kick-the-can, to hide when you’re playing kick-the-can. So, we always played those kinds of games there. So, I do remember going over there.  It was a lovely spot, sitting around the patio and the pool. The adults would sit around and enjoy themselves, and we’d be racing around, screaming, jumping in and out of the pool. But it was a lot of fun there.” [James Kolbe oral history, 2010]

Empire Ranch landscape, 2015. ERF archives: D601-223

Mesquite Eradication - 1955

“No day on this [Empire] ranch is completely lost if we kill a few mesquites.” With this exhortation Frank Boice, Sr., encouraged stockmen attending the 1955 meeting of the Society of Range Management (SRM) not to wait for “miraculous” remedies for brush invasions on their ranges. Rather, he recommended that ranchers “…each year put a part of the earnings of the ranch into controlling brush”, and that researchers “…get the feeling of urgency that is so clearly indicated and hurry, hurry, hurry…” to find solutions.

He was delighted to address the SRM on mesquite control, saying: “At home I am considered somewhat of a nut on the subject …and I don’t object in the least.” He considered the mesquite invasion on the Empire Ranch a serious threat to its “continued beauty and productivity,” and described a recent project to clear a 300-acre pasture by grubbing out or treating with diesel oil approximately 7,000 mesquites – over 20 plants per acre.

Dick and Wag Schorr, Whetstone Mts in background, Christmas 1978. ERF archives: B401-1

Wag and Dick Schorr - 1955

Dr. Richard “Dick” Schorr, DVM, grew up in the Elgin/Sonoita area between 1948 and the mid-1950s. Dick’s parents, Wagner and Marie Schorr moved from Pennsylvania to a ranch in Canelo in 1948 when Dick was 12. Dick recalls one interaction with Frank and Mary Boice.

“So, he and I – Frank Senior and I – rode back to the ranch, which took us about an hour and a half to get back, and he was showing me [talking to me about his ranch] – of course I was supposed to open the gates. He was getting older, you know, and I was still young. And so we had about an hour and a half to go, and he would go by an old water trough and he’d talk about that, or a tank over here – a water tank – or just the condition of things. We had a nice chat together. It was really nice, and I kind of felt like, in a way, equal. But the way you do, when you get up sixteen years of age, and you’re doing men’s work, you’re actually regarded as an equal, in a way. It was important to do that, and I liked that. It kind of helped me in my thinking way of life. Mary [Boice], she had breakfast out in the kitchen there in the big house. It was dark out there [about 5 am], and our horses were out in the rock corral, waiting.  Just had ham and eggs or whatever we had out there. Nice lady, really nice. Mom and Dad liked her very much. They were very nice people. Mary helped my mother teach my youngest brother swimming in their pool in those days, and we still have some gladiolus or whatever they are, around the front wall of the [our] house down there in Sonoita – remnants – Mary gave them to Mom and [Mom] planted them there, and they’re still surviving, I think.” [Dick Schorr oral history, 2019]

Carol, Sherry, Kitty & Steve Boice Christmas photo, 1956. ERF archives: B204-05.

Carol Enid Boice is Born - 1955

Carol Enid Boice, the youngest of Pancho and Sherry’s four children was born August 5, 1955 in Tucson.

Carol, Sherry, Kitty & Steve Boice Christmas photo, 1956. ERF archives: B204-05.

Rancho Seco Sold - 1955

Rancho Seco, originally part of the Arivaca Ranch, owned by Jack and Peggy Rubel, was sold to Don Rowley. The Rubel family purchased and moved to the X Bar I Ranch near Seligman.

Rancho Seco was acquired by Pima County in 2005 from the Rowley family to conserve over 9,500 acres of open space and 27,000 acres of grazing lease under the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Click here for more information on Ranch Seco.

Bob and Miriam Boice, 1951. ERF archives: B203-01
Slash S Ranch House, ca. 1956. ERF archives: B206-85

Slash S Ranch in Globe - 1956

“By 1955 it was evident that there were too many chiefs running the Empire Ranch.”  A new partnership of Frank and Mary Boice, Frank Stephen Boice (sole and separate), Bob and Miriam Boice representing Empire Cattle Company bought the Slash S Ranch in Globe.”

“The outstanding feature of the ranch was not only the brush and annual spring feed, mostly filaree, but that the property was mostly state lease with patented lands around the waters versus most of the other ranches in the area that are on national forest lands. Bob and Miriam with their two children moved to the new ranch. Miriam became the cook for the cowboys.” [Robert G. Boice and Family by Miriam Boice, 2000]

Bob and Miriam Boice, 1951. ERF archives: B203-01

Frank Seymour Boice Dies - 1956

On April 3, 1956 Frank S. Boice died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was 61 years old. At the time of his death Frank was “…chairman of the National Livestock Tax committee. It was in this last post that he was instrumental in originating and drawing up the first stable system of tax accounting for the livestock industry, a system which was approved by both the Internal Revenue department and the Congress and which was written into law.” [Arizona Daily Star, 4/4/1956]

Pancho (l) and Bob Boice (r), 1960s. ERF archives: B203-28

Empire and Slash S Ownership and Operations - 1956

After Frank Boice’s death the ownership of the two ranches changed. The Empire ownership became 50%  Mary Boice, 25%, Pancho Boice, and 25% Bob Boice. The Slash S ownership was 50% Pancho Boice and 50% Bob and Miriam Boice. Pancho managed the day-to-day operations of the Empire Ranch and Bob did the same for the Slash S. Grant Boice recalls: “…we would ship the calves from the Empire up to the Slash S.  Instead of selling them at the Empire, we’d pasture them on the Slash S from the fall through the spring. We would sell them from the Slash S in the spring. Everything they did, they did together.” [Grant Boice oral history, 2014]

Sherry (right) Boice with Burt Lancaster, 1956. ERF archives: B350-66.
Kitty (left), Steve (middle) and Sherry (right) Boice with Burt Lancaster, 1956. ERF archives: B350-65

Gunfight at the OK Corral - 1956

Between March and May 1956 Gunfight at the OK Corral was filmed in the Tucson area, including the Empire Ranch. The movie starred Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming and was released in 1957.

New Ranch House, 2018. ERF archives: D606-424

“New Ranch House” is Built - 1956

Pancho and Sherry Boice completed construction of their home, located on a rise just north of the Empire Ranch House. The house was designed by Pancho and included three bedrooms, two baths, a large kitchen and dining room, and an office. Pancho and Sherry’s four children would grow up in this home.

Martha Hamilton Boice, 1957. Courtesy of Martha Madani

Martha Hamilton Boice is Born - 1956

Martha Hamilton Boice, Bob and Miriam’s third child, was born in Tucson on October 14, 1956. Though the family was living on the Slash S Ranch in Globe at the time, Miriam came to Tucson for the birth to be close to her mother.

Martha Hamilton Boice, 1957. Courtesy of Martha Madani

Charles Boice Dies - 1956

Charles Boice died on December 15, 1956 in California.  He was 54 years old.

“After leaving the cattle business, Mr. Boice held business interests in Nogales, Willcox, Flagstaff and California. Mr. Boice is survived by two daughters of his late wife. Lucille, LuBelle, a student at the University of Illinois, and Mrs. Ann Halverson, whose husband is in the U.S. Army; his second wife, Frances, and two sons, Steve and Walter.” [Arizona Daily Star, 12/16/1956]

Mariann Tait Boice, 1957. Tucson Daily Citizen photo

Mariann Tait Boice is Born - 1957

Fred and Anne Boice’s second child, Mariann Tait, was born in Tucson on January 3, 1957.

Refrigeration unit in Room 4, Cowboy Dining Room. ERF archives

Electrical Power Arrives - 1957

In 1957 the Empire Ranch was finally connected to the electric power grid. This allowed for the installation of a large refrigeration unit in the Cowboy Dining where freshly butchered beef as stored.

Cottonwood grove behind riders at the Empire Ranch Foundation Spring Trail Ride, 2010. ERF archives: D453-057

Mary Boice Radio Presentation - 1957

On February 26, 1957 Mary Boice spoke about the history of the Empire Ranch on KNOG radio in Nogales. “We bought the Empire Ranch from the Vails in 1928 and moved here in 1929. It has been our home ever since. Different ‘old timers’ have told me bits about it, such as Blas Lopez an old man who lived here as a boy, said he and his father planted five Cottonwood switches in the Cienega below the house. He was about 80 years old when he told me this and we’ve been here about 28 years; making a span of over 100 years. Those switches have grown into a grove of trees.”

After reviewing the history of the Empire Ranch Mary concluded her remarks: “At present the Empire Ranch consists of about 60 sections of land. It is the ‘heart’ of the original holdings, and which we hope to operate for many years to come.”

Pancho Boice (l) and Henry G. Boice (r) on Empire Ranch corral fence, 1950s. ERF archives: B350-04

Pancho Boice Community Involvement - 1957/1958

In addition to managing Empire Ranch operations, Pancho Boice actively participated in community activities. He was a member of a committee advising the Arizona Highway Commission on improved maintenance of Highway 83, on the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association, and the Empire School Board.

Frank S. Boice, 1950s. ERF archives: B203-15

Frank Boice Inducted in the Cowboy Hall of Fame - 1958

“Frank Boice, Sonoita rancher who died in 1956, was elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame]. Boice was one of 16 cowboys at large elected from anywhere in the United States and Canada.” [Arizona Republic, 1/8/1958]

Anthony Quinn, Mary & Bob Bowman, Mary Boice, and Director Hal Wallace, on site while Last Train from Gun Hill was being filmed on the Empire Ranch, 1958. ERF archives: B004-1

Last Train from Gun Hill - 1958

“Look what’s been happening down on the old Empire Ranch some 50 miles southwest of Tucson, where Hal Wallis Productions is filming ‘Showdown at Gun Hill.’ The hero of this particular piece of Hollywood legerdemain is tall (6 ft.) but neither lean nor limpy, Kirk Douglas. Anything but a typical saddle bum, New York born Douglas rose through Broadway to tough dramatic roles, now heads his own movie company. His co-star is Oscar-winning Anthony Quinn, a man able and willing to say more than “they went thataway” at the drop of a sombrero.” [Arizona Daily Star, 4/4/1958]

The photo illustrating this post resulted when Mary Boice suggested to Mary and Bob Bowman, who had been branding cows, that they drive over with her to see the film site.  On nearing, someone came running over saying “you just ruined a take by driving through it.” However, when Mary Boice gave her name, they were cordially escorted to film site. There, Hal Wallace was very gracious, inviting them to dine. Mary Bowman explained her smile is strained in this photo, as she had accidentally backed up into a barrel cactus when shot was taken.

Elgin Community Club members in the Fairground kitchen (r); Mary Boice (l), 1958. Arizona Daily Star photo.

Elgin Community Club and SCCFRA - 1958

In 1958 Mary Boice was the co-chair of the Elgin Community Club food concession for the Santa Cruz County Fair & Rodeo Association events. “Staffing the kitchen are members of the Elgin Community Club who prepare and sell refreshments during the annual racing season and horse show. During the Sonoita horse races they sold “between seven and eight hundred hamburgers. The selection of refreshments includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, ham sandwiches, home-made pies and cakes, soft drinks, coffee and candy. During the horse show they plan to serve ranch style chili beans.” [Arizona Daily Star, 5/5/1958]

Back row: Lynn, Peggy, and Jack Rubel. Front row: John and Tom Rubel. Courtesy of Lynn Rubel.
Back row: Lynn, Peggy, and Jack Rubel. Front row: John and Tom Rubel. Courtesy of Lynn Rubel.

Peggy Lynn Rubel and Peggy Frances Boice Are Born - 1958

Peggy Lynn Rubel, third child of Jack and Peggy Rubel was born on May 22, 1958 in Prescott. She is known as Lynn.

Peggy Frances Boice, fourth child of Bob and Miriam Boice, was born on November 24, 1958 in Globe. Their oldest, Mary Elizabeth was six and ready to start first grade, so Miriam and the kids moved into the home they built in Globe so the children could attend school in town.

Lake of the Woods brochure with a photo of Grant Boice and Bob Boice, 1960s. Courtesy of Peggy Boice Sands

Mary Boice Marries Ed Souders - 1958

On May 30, 1958 Mary Boice married Edward Henry Souders at an informal ceremony in Nogales, AZ. Ed had worked as a cowboy at the Empire Ranch and with the Empire crew when they helped at the Slash S. [Grant Boice oral history, 2014]

After their honeymoon the couple made their home in the White Mountains of Arizona where they owned and operated the Lake of the Woods Cabins in Lakeside.

Henry G. Boice in his office, 1950s. ERF archives: B203-25

Big Ranch Era Ending? - 1958

An article by Leslie Ernewein in the Tucson Citizen noted: “The big cow ranch and the cattle baron have passed from the Arizona scene. And at a time when phony cowpokes crowd TV screens, a real cowboy is hard to find. Cattle empires with their line camps, roving roundup crews, and far-flung ranges have been replaced by family-sized ranches running from 250 to 750 head of mother cows. Why have the big spreads been split up? Rising land values increased taxes and higher wages for the hired men on horseback.”

“Henry Boice who operates the Arivaca Ranch in southwestern Pima County said yesterday that It is becoming difficult to replace old cowboys when the time comes to hang up their saddles. ‘Real cowboys are scarce,’ he said. ‘Most of those available couldn’t sit on the side of a hill and watch a good cowboy work.’” [Tucson Citizen, 6/19/1958]

Jennifer Boice, 1962. ERF archives: B111-01a

Jennifer Lynn Boice is Born - 1959

Fred and Ann Boice’s third child, Jennifer Lynn was born on April 6, 1959 in Tucson.

(l-r) Fred Boice, Pancho Boice, & Bob Boice, 1950s. ERF archives: B111-05

Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association - 1960

Pancho and Fred Boice were on the Board of Directors of the newly formed Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association. Pancho and Fred would later become officers of the Association.

(l-r) Bob and Grant Boice, 1960s. ERF archives: B203-09

American Society of Range Management - 1960

Bob Boice became chairman of the American Society of Range Management, Arizona Section. His involvement with ASRM began in 1958 when became secretary. That same year he was elected secretary of the Gila County Cattlegrowers Association.

Google Earth view of the former Empire Ranch Airstrip, 2021.

Airstrip at Empire Ranch - 1960s

Sometime in the early 1960s an airstrip was constructed north of the Empire Ranch house. Pancho’s daughter Carol Boice Barleycorn recalled that he first flew a Piper Cub. By the early 1970s he owned a Beechcraft Baron, and the airstrip was expanded from the small original North/South landing strip to a T-shape strip. Pancho frequently flew to the Slash S ranch in Globe which also had an airstrip.

The airstrip was decommissioned in the 2000s and is today designated a group camping site on Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.

US Census of Agriculture, 1959. Arizona. US Dept. of Commerce

Empire Cattle Co. Incorporated as Boice & Company - 1961

In 1961 Pancho and Bob Boice incorporated the Empire Cattle Co. as Boice & Company. As the new decade began Arizona agricultural statistics documented ranching trends between 1940 and 1959. The number of “farms” reporting sales of cattle and/or calves decreased 42% while the number of live cattle and/or calves sold increased 134%.

Boice/Rubel families: (back row) Henry G. and Margaret Boice; Ann and Fred Boice holding Fred Boice, Jr., Peggy and Jack Rubel.  (front row, l-r, Jennifer Boice, Lynn Rubel, Mariann Boice, Henry Boice, John and Tom Rubel, 1961. Courtesy of Lynn Rubel.

Fred Tait Boice, Jr. is Born - 1961

Fred and Ann Boice’s fourth child, Fred Tait Boice, Jr. is born in Tucson on June 26, 1961.

Boice/Rubel families: (back row) Henry G. and Margaret Boice; Ann and Fred Boice holding Fred Boice, Jr., Peggy and Jack Rubel.  (front row, l-r, Jennifer Boice, Lynn Rubel, Mariann Boice, Henry Boice, John and Tom Rubel, 1961. Courtesy of Lynn Rubel.

Cattle Rustling From the Slash S - 1961

The Arizona Record (Globe) reported that two men had pleaded guilty to stealing a calf from the Slash S Ranch and a third was sentenced for possession of unstamped meat. Ranch hand, Earl Prosser, who worked for the Slash S and the Empire, received a $500 reward from the Gila County Livestock Protective Association for providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of the men.

Dorothy Fisher and Sherry Boice, 1950s. ERF archives: B202-03.
Dorothy Fisher with Steve Boice, Steve Feldmann, and Joseph McDonald, 1950s. ERF archives: B202-02.

Pancho and Sherry Boice Buy a Tucson Home - 1962

In 1962 Pancho and Sherry purchased a home in El Encanto Estates, Tucson so that Steve, Kitty, Sherry and Carol could attend school. All the kids had attended the one room Empire School on Greaterville Rd. until the move to Tucson. Dorothy Fisher, who lived at the nearby Thurber Ranch, was their teacher.

Dorothy Fisher and Sherry Boice, 1950s. ERF archives: B202-03.

Margaret Ellen Boice is Born - 1962

Fred and Ann Boice’s fifth child, Margaret Ellen, was born on December 31, 1962 in Tucson.

Bailey Foster, 1975. ERF archives

Bailey Foster - 1963

Bailey Foster’s father worked for Frank and Pancho Boice on the Empire Ranch in the mid-1950s, and Bailey would assist part-time with branding and other seasonal work. In 1963 Bob Boice hired Bailey to work on the Slash S. Bailey, his wife Dorothy, and their four daughters moved into the Slash S ranch house which Bob and Miriam left fully furnished for them.

Bailey recalled: “Now Bob, on the other hand, he was a cowboy. I told him, ‘If they’d have never sent you to school, you’d have really been a cowboy.’ Because he was really a good hand a-horseback, he was a good manager, and he just was all around, knew what to do. I know for years I’d worked for him there, and he’d never had a rope down, because I was with him all the time when he worked with us. We was penning some cattle, and a calf broke back, Bob jerks his rope down, and just jumped out there and just – wearing a collar around his neck, just… It surprised me, because that’s something that you lose if you don’t keep doing all the time. But Bob was a cowboy from the heart, he was really great. And Bob was the best man I ever worked for. I’ve worked for some good men – I’m not putting any of them down. Fred Barnett was terrific, but Bob never promised you anything – if he was going to do something, he did it. And his word was just as solid as could be. So I really enjoyed working for Bob, and he’s still one of my best friends.” [Bailey Foster oral history, 2011]

Robert Grantham Boice, 1960s. ERF archives: B203-32.
Miriam Boice, 1960s. ERF archives: B203-61

Bob and Miriam Boice, GCCGA - 1964

Bob Boice was elected President of the Gila County Cattle Growers Association (GCCGA) in 1964, and Miriam was elected secretary. Bob noted that “…the brucellosis certification will be one of the projects in the future. In April. Gila County must be recertified. The animal disease eradication men are going to try to have Gila County certified this time rather-than modified certified as before.” [Arizona Silver Belt, 9/24/1964]

Bob was President in 1966 when the GCCGA instituted a cattle sale at the Globe Stockyards, an experiment which proved very successful. Bob served as President until 1967. Miriam continued as Secretary until 1968 when she became Treasurer, an office she held for more than 20 years.

Sherry Boice, 1971. ERF archives: B375-84

Sherry Boice Pilot License - 1964

Sherry Boice earned her pilot license in 1964. Her daughter, Carol Boice Barleycorn, recalled that she initially learned to fly to be able to handle a plane if something should happen to Pancho while flying. Soon after Sherry became a flight instructor. She continued flying until 1968.

Fred T. Boice and his sister Peggy Boice Rubel were pilots also.

Screwworm Peerless ointment and collection kit. Courtesy of Mary Kasulatis

Screwworm Eradication Program - 1965

In the 1960s the U.S. Department of Agriculture began a collaboration with U.S. ranchers and the Mexican government to eradicate screwworms. U.S. scientists “…began irradiating from 50 million to 70 million screwworm pupae per week with gamma rays from radioactive cobalt. Now sterile, the newly emerging flies were boxed up and dropped from airplanes at a density of between 200 and 1,000 flies per square mile. Because the sterile flies greatly outnumbered the native flies, the sterilized males did most of the breeding. All, or nearly all, of the females mated with sterile males and deposited only infertile eggs.” [“Turning on the worm that turned,” by David E. Brown, Arizona Wildlife Views, May-June 2001.]

In 1965 Pancho Boice was elected chairman of the Pima County Screwworm eradication committee. About the same time Bob Boice “…became Gila County chairman, which meant he had to solicit funds from ranchers to match the federal funds.  Along with the county agent he visited every rancher seeking a donation. In his memoirs (Arizona Pioneer Stockmen Ranch Histories, Vol XXII) Bob writes, “This was to be a one-shot deal to cover the two-year program… Some ranchers asked, ‘Why contribute …they hadn’t had any screwworms for a year.’ Bob explained that the initial program – which had to be extended – had protected their animals. By 1969, Gila County was free of the larvae that had ruled rancher timing of roundups, branding, castrating, and dehorning. [Adele Conover, A First Family – the Boices, 2006]

Aerial photo of Western Slope Feeder’s Lot, 1972. Courtesy of The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO.

Corporate Expansion - 1968

In 1968 Pancho and Bob Boice and their cousin Fred began to expand their business operations when they established Boice & Boice, a cattle-feeding partnership.  Boice & Boice bought Western Slope Feeders, Orchard Mesa, Grand Junction, Colorado and formed a sub chapter S Corporation with Bill Laramore, who managed the feed lot.

Tucson Daily Citizen photo of the “Slash Y” barn constructed on the Empire Ranch, 1969.

Monte Walsh Filmed at Empire Ranch - 1969

In May 1969 Cinema Center Films began construction of a set for the “Slash Y” ranch for the filming of Monte Walsh, starring Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance. The “Slash Y” was located on Empire Ranch property, south of ranch headquarters.

The Tucson Citizen reported that Pancho Boice “…looked over the layout and said the bunkhouse was too close to the main ranch house. So 30 or 40 workers picked up the bunkhouse and moved it further away. In addition to the ranch headquarters at Sonoita, a complete town with some 20 buildings is being built in the Little Rincons about eight miles west of Benson.”  [Tucson Daily Citizen, 5/24/1969]

Pancho Boice with daughter Kitty (r) and Elizabeth (Lizzy) Rose Anastasi (l), 1972. ERF archives: B204-31a

Pancho Boice Business Ventures - 1969

Pancho, who was an early pioneer in the use of computers for ranch management, established Management Computer Network, Inc. with Ray Sammons. The firm’s double-entry cost accounting system, known as MARK 3 (Management Analysis and Record Keeping) was developed by Dr. Sammons, a former UA faculty member. [Arizona Republic, 7/11/1971]

Pancho also established Accounting Service with Dennis Hanson and Gary Kraft, and Arizona Computer Network, managed by Nelson K. Stevenson.

Map of proposed GAC real estate development of the Empire Ranch. ERF archives: C500-002

Boice & Co Sells the Empire Ranch to Gulf American Corporation (GAC) - 1969

In October local newspapers began reporting about the possible sale of the Empire Ranch. “The Empire today contains 42,000 acres, 27,000 of which is deeded land. Located in the lush rolling hills near Sonoita, it is in the heart of the prime cattle country and has been viewed by real estate developers as an ideal location for a housing sub division. Gulf American officials whose company is developing Rio Rico, a huge subdivision 10 miles north of Nogales, today admitted they are interested in a similar project in the Sonoita area. ‘We’ve talked about buying that ranch, but there are other firms that are also interested in buying it. Mr. Boice has not made any commitment to us.’” [Tucson Daily Citizen, 10/30/1969]

In December the sale of the Empire to Gulf American was announced. GAC “… associates from Florida, California and locally have been discussing plans with the county engineers, sanitation and planning and zoning officials. The Tucson engineering firm of Cella Barr have four men currently working at the site. Gulf American plans include an entire city, with a central business district, industrial sites, multiple housing and homes ranging from three to one per acre.” [Tucson Daily Citizen, 12/18/1969]

The sale agreement included a provision for Boice & Co. retain a grazing lease, so Pancho Boice continued to live at the Empire Ranch and manage the Boice & Co. ranching operations.