DUNCAN — The Greenlee County Cowbelles have named Jesse Rios as the 2019 Father Rancher of the Year.

Spending his childhood working ranches from Mexico to southeast Arizona, the Greenlee Cowbelles said, “Even though Jesse is new to Greenlee County, he is no greenhorn when it comes to the Western way of life.”

In high school, Rios began working with a veterinarian in Nogales.

“We traveled to numerous ranches to care for the herds, and I continued to work gathering cattle until I graduated from high school. I worked contract roundups with the Yubeta family from Nogales,” Rios said.

He met his wife, Susan, while running a steer operation in California and later began a career in law enforcement with the City of Coronado, Calif., where he was voted Policeman of the Year and president of the Police Association.

“Beautiful place to live for most people, but my heart was in Arizona. I was never comfortable surrounded by deep water,” he said.

Following that, Rios worked with the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Bowie — a job he said he loved — and helped out at the local UX Ranch, where he became the foreman on his second day. He remembered the time fondly, writing, “It was a great place to raise our three boys.”

Rios said he has always had a soft spot for children. He would bring runaways back to the ranch to wait for their parents to collect them, and worked with underprivileged children and the handicapped.

While living in Cottonwood, Rios taught children about horse riding and animal care, volunteered at food banks and performed other charitable work.

Now a resident of Duncan, Rios has been happily married for 57 years, with three sons, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They love their home in Greenlee County.

“Duncan’s concerns for the well being of children and the many programs encouraging them were immediately evident upon our arrival. The kindness of our great neighbors and town officials certainly made us feel welcome and at home,” he said.

“We love God, family, country and our community.”

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