Carrol “Mac” Dale McIntosh 1934 – 2023
Mac McIntosh, in hospice with his family by his side, passed on May 12. Mac was a friend and example to every member of his large family and to many hundreds of people with whom he shared life’s adventures and hardships. And he was a living legend and folk hero in his time. Across the mountain west he loved, he was the homespun humble circuit riding ‘preacher’ of choice to devout Christians as well as those without church membership, those who just naturally sought comfort and understanding. He was also that quiet sort of horseman, without splash, who some might think got lucky to have had so many willing, comfortable, calm, grateful equine working partners. It wasn’t luck, he made them that way so artfully that you were hard-pressed to see how he did it. Often the only evidence of intent was a twinkle in his eye.
Well into his eighth decade, Mac still did day work riding fenceline with his buddy Mike Carnahan for larger high desert ranching operations.
And in the maelstrom of today’s toxic social environment, Mac and Rachel McIntosh worked the same magic with their vibrant cohesive family, all of whom seemed to come naturally to the challenge of holding common values and ethics, to keeping their lifestyle and work ethic so firmly intact, of holding to the richness of their gratefulness and their buoyant good humor. Mac was there, quietly and assuredly keeping the rigging of the McIntosh family correct, in place and ready, right where they belonged and belong.
‘Artful cohesion.’ I smile thinking that when I would say such things, share such abstract ideas, with my good friend, he’d pause, remember it’s only me and, with that gentlest wrinkle to his brow, wordlessly wonder what the heck I was talking about. And then came that soft smile.
And I might offer as explanation, ‘keeping family and farm together is a big job. Sometimes best intentions make long term fools of us as we press and insist and demand and squeeze to hold things together only to find the ‘chillen’ scatter and the pieces fall off the wagon. Those who find subtle, gentle, artful ways to hold all of it together for a lifetime they are among the unsung giants of our society and culture. You’ve been one of those giants, for a long and glorious quiet life.’
As if I had gone on too long, said things better left unsaid, the wrinkle would smooth and Mac might bow his head, gently blow a handful of foxtails from his sleeve and say something like, ‘give a good horse his head, he’ll always be there for you.’
The full stature of a great good man is the clear record of unselfish accomplishment, it is the hum of love’s success, it is the remains of steadiness and comfort pressed free from life’s gouge and rip.
Mac was born in Boulder, Wyoming, and maintained deep roots in that country raised as he was on farms and ranches, and learning from infancy how to buckaroo, work horses at haying and all the myriad intricacies of a life on and with the land. The craft and legacies of western horsemanship, and ‘cowboy workings’ were held dear and near by this big goodhearted man who represented the very best of those traditions. Add in his long-term lasting impact and stewardship as teacher and preacher and the hole he leaves behind is ‘pret near’ impossible to fill.
He is survived by a big family four generations deep who hold his example and sweet memory dear as they carry the texture, crafts and outlook far into the future. The world is a better place to have known the character of this good soul. LRM