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True Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texas

Elmer Kelton

Elmer Kelton

Kelton was born April 29, 1928 at a place called Horse Camp on the Five Wells Ranch in Andrews County. When he was three years old, his family moved to the McElroy Ranch located in Crane and Upton counties near the city of Crane, He spent the rest of his childhood at three different homesteads on the McElroy Ranch, where his father was employed for 36 years.

After graduation from Crane High School, Kelton attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1942 to 1944 and again from 1946 to 1948, when he earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. From 1944 to 1946, Kelton served in the U.S. Army, with combat infantry experience in Europe during World War II.

After the war, Kelton moved to San Angelo where he was the farm and ranch editor for The San Angelo Standard Times from 1948 to 1963. For five years, he was editor of Sheep and Goat Raiser Magazine and another 22 years he was editor of Livestock Weekly, from which he retired in 1990.

Hot Iron and The Time It Never RainedEight Kelton novels, Buffalo Wagons, The Day the Cowboys Quit, The Time It Never Rained, Eyes of the Hawk, Slaughter, The Far Canyon, Many a River, and The Way of the Coyote won Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America where his fellow authors also named him "the greatest Western writer of all time".

Three other Kelton novels, City: The Time It Never Rained, The Good Old Boys, and The Man Who Rode Midnight, have received Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The Good Old Boys was made into the Turner Network Television TV movie named The Good Old Boys in 1995 starring fellow West Texan Tommy Lee Jones.

Elmer Kelton - Hard Trail to FollowIn 1977, Kelton received an Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement. In April 1997, the Texas State Legislature proclaimed "Elmer Kelton Day". In 1998, he received the first Lone Star Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

Kelton received honorary doctorates from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and Texas Tech University at Lubbock. Kelton also received a lifetime achievement award from the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock. He is honored with a star in the sidewalk at the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth.

He was married to Anni Lipp, a native of Austria. They had three children. One son, Gerhard also known as "Gary", who resides in Plainview Texas, is Anni's son and was adopted by Kelton. The other son and a daughter are Steve Kelton and Kathy Kelton, both residents of San Angelo.

Elmer Kelton died August 22, 2009


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