By Gus Gill
Not everyone can boast over 70 years of membership within the Farm Bureau, but Leon “Short” Allen sure can! Beginning in Oklahoma during the late 1940s, Short distinctly remembers the day he first became involved in the organization. “The first car I ever bought was a 1947 Pontiac, and the first meeting I went to was a Junior Farm Bureau [now known as Young Farmers and Ranchers] meeting that same night,” he said. Now, 92 years old, the legacy he has built through his service to agriculture and his community leaves a lasting impact.
Growing up in Beaver County, Oklahoma, Short recalls his early years in the 1930s. He shared many memories about living through the Dust Bowl from dirt getting into the icebox to seeing cars stopped on the road as a result of dust clogging up the distributors. “We didn’t have any extra money, but we managed,” he said. “I never did go hungry. I might have had bread and milk for supper, but we always had something to eat.”
Short is certainly not short of great stories to tell of his childhood. When asked about the origin of his nickname, he mentioned that one time, when he was very young, he wore a pair of short pants, so people called him “Short Pants” that day. Then, for whatever reason, the name “Short” stuck and that is the way it has been ever since. “I don’t know if that’s true or not,” he laughed, “but it makes a good story!”
During the Korean War, Short was drafted and served for two years in the United States Army. While in the military, Short was stationed in Germany for exactly one year. “I walked down the gangplank at Bremerhaven the 14th day of December,” he explained, “and the 14th day of December I walked up the gangplank.” Not long after returning from the service, he married Wilda, a telephone operator from Liberal, Kansas who he had met prior to being drafted. The couple raised three kids, Jerry, Sue, and Connie, as well as have a handful of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As he described, Wilda and Short had a rather eventful first meeting. One evening, while he and a group of friends were driving through town, they spotted a pickup of girls rolling down the street, one of which caught Short’s eye. Turning to his friends, he instructed, “When she stops at that stoplight up there, I am gonna run and get in the back of the pickup. You follow me and see that she doesn’t take me out into the country and kick me out.” The plan worked, and the rest is history.
In 1965, after selling the farm in Oklahoma, he and his two brothers moved to Cheyenne County and settled down on land their family owned in Colorado. Over the years, they have grown a wide variety of crops as well as raised beef cattle. Additionally, Short has developed an extensive resume of industry and community involvement throughout his lifetime. Along with serving on the Rural Electric Association Board, as a Representative on the Colorado Sugar Beet Growers Association Board, and his local church board, Short has been an active and engaged Farm Bureau member.
In October 2020, Short stepped down as President of the Cheyenne County Farm Bureau Board. He has served in multiple additional positions on the County Board over the years, represented District 3 on the State Board from 1994 to 2005, and has made tremendous contributions towards the great work of the Colorado Farm Bureau. Congratulations for an exceptional Farm Bureau career, Short, and thank you for your commitment to the organization!