After 97 years of a life well-lived, Edward McCuistion Cumbie left the red soil of Bronte, Texas, for the green pastures of heaven on Monday, July 13, 2020, after a brief illness. He spent his last moments on the ranch in the house where he raised his family, surrounded by his daughters, wife, favorite Glenn Miller tunes, and a few beloved Southern Baptist hymns.
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Ed was born at home on October 27, 1922, to Richard Edward Cumbie and Emma Rogers McCuistion Cumbie. His love of cattle first became known around five years of age, when he discovered a National Geographic magazine with a story on different breeds of cattle. That love followed him all of his life, as he was gathering and hauling cattle only a few days before his death. Ed attended Bronte Schools, where he played football, baseball, and tennis. He showed livestock in regional and state competitions-- later becoming a State Future Farmers of America officer, and he loved to ride in grand entries in rodeos across west Texas. He started a herd of registered Hereford cattle in 1937 while still in high school by picking cotton and saving enough money to buy his first heifers.
A 1943 graduate of Texas A&M University, Ed was the king of die-hard Aggies. WWII was raging during those years, and his senior class was graduated early, commissioned, and sent to support WWII, where Ed discovered his second passion--flying. Although initially assigned to ground operations, Ed fought for and won an assignment to the 79th Fighter Group to become a pilot, and flew missions in the Rhineland and Central European theaters. By the war’s end, he had flown every type of Army Air Corps aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and transports.
After briefly contemplating remaining in the military, Ed returned home and continued his service in the Reserves, teaching vocational agriculture classes to veteran students in Coke and Runnels counties. He used his Veterans Administration benefits to help purchase additional land to add to the Cumbie Ranch, which had been founded north of Bronte by his grandfather, R.M. Cumbie, in 1890. Ed and his father, R.E. “Eddie” Cumbie, partnered to expand and improve the registered Hereford herd, and went on to compete well nationally for many years. During this time, Ed served as president of the Concho Hereford Association, and as a director for the Texas Hereford Association.
Ed continued with his love for promoting livestock, as he was instrumental in founding the Junior Hereford Breeding Show for the San Angelo Stock Show, the Cattleman’s Roundup for Crippled Children for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center, and the Feeder Calf Sales in San Angelo. Throughout his life, Ed was a cattle buyer for numerous cattle companies, buying and shipping cattle across the nation.
In 1956, Ed began serving as an Area Field Representative for Texas Farm Bureau, covering the largest territory in the state. For 31 years, he traveled the southwest, organizing a grassroot network of counties representing the voice of agriculture at local, state, and national levels. Additionally, he was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Farm Bureau’s annual Citizenship Seminar, a summer camp for high school students that taught free enterprise, patriotism, responsibility, and leadership – values that Ed cherished and championed every day of his life.
Ed loved his hometown of Bronte, and served in virtually every capacity at some time – he helped found the V.F.W. and Lions Club, and served as president and member of the school board, nursing home board, and many county boards. A steadfast supporter of Bronte businesses and volunteer organizations, Ed loved nothing better than presiding as auctioneer and rousing up the crowd to generate money in local charity auctions.
But above all, Ed Cumbie loved God and served Him faithfully every day in his family and through his service in numerous positions in the First Baptist Church in Bronte, which is the same church his grandfather founded. But, Ed’s servant’s heart more often represented God quietly and without attention. Those who received that love and generosity know this well.
Ed was preceded in death by his parents, R.E. and Emma Cumbie, and his sister, Georgia Mae Mackey. He is sadly missed by his wife of 68 years, Helen Jane Luby Cumbie; beloved daughters Linda (Pat) Gladden, Susan (Paul) Williams, Dawn Burwick, and Shelley Cumbie; along with cherished grandchildren Jerrod (Melissa) Gladden, Jeffrey (Ashley) Gladden, Nick (Jodie) Arrott, Jael Williams, Shay Burwick (Doug Mitchell), Lindsey (Sean) Brown, Cory Scott, and T.J. Scott. Great-grandchildren who loved their Gramps include Taylor and Lexy Gladden; Lauren and Ava Saucedo; Samantha, Jackson, and Graham Gladden; Payton and Callen Arrott; Addison and Mac Mitchell; Kaycie and Austin Brown; Ashton Peake, and Aryanna and Tristen Scott.
Pallbearers will be his grandchildren. Honorary pallbearers include his faithful ranch foreman, David Nobles, along with James Lynn Vaughn, Clay Allen, Martin Lefevre, Steve Cochran, Rex Jones, and Pat Phillips.
Public viewing will be at Shaffer Funeral Home in Bronte from 9:00-4:00 on Friday, July 24th, with Family Visitation from 5:00-8:00 pm at the First Baptist Church of Bronte’s sanctuary. Funeral services will be Saturday, July 25th at First Baptist Church at 10:00 a.m. with graveside to follow. Ed’s love of Texas A&M and the Bronte Longhorns will be remembered, and attendees are invited to wear maroon in the spirit of celebration. Services are under the direction of Shaffer Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorial contributions to the “Edward M. Cumbie Scholarship Fund” in care of the First National Bank, Drawer C, Bronte, Texas 76933 or to the First Baptist Church of Bronte.
The health and safety of attendees is the family’s main concern, and masks must be worn to all services. They will be provided, along with other COVID-19 related protocols. The service will also be live-streamed to the church’s Fellowship Hall and on the First Baptist Church of Bronte’s Facebook page for those in the at-risk population.
The family wishes to thank Ballinger Home Health and Hospice staff Whitney Medina, Amy McKinney, Paula Rodriguez, Debbie Lemons, and Marina Diaz.