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Hank Brown on Kenny Monfort

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 3:00 am

Hank Brown on Kenny Monfort

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 24, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Hank Brown's beautiful tribute to his former boss and beef pioneer Kenny Monfort

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Send them to And now a story from Hank Brown, the extraordinary statesman who led three different universities, served as Colorado's Senator, and was fortunate to work with beef pioneer, Kenny Monfort. Here's Hank paying tribute to his friend, Kenny. I think the thing that I'll remember most about Kenny, his tolerance. Kenny was a liberal Democrat.

He eventually switched to the Republican Party, but he was opposed to the Vietnam War, and yet he still hired me, who'd been there and supported him. At one point, a close friend of his in the community had a shoe store and had criticized Kenny publicly in really nasty remarks about him in the local newspaper over one of the projects the company was doing. And I think it hurt Kenny's feelings because he thought of him as a good friend. And some friends of Kenny immediately organized a boycott of the shoe store. If he would say such horrible things about Kenny, they didn't want to do business with him.

When Kenny heard about it, he called everybody involved in the movement and urged them to patronize the store and not penalize this fellow who'd been so nasty to him. And Kenny's explanation was that if you can lose your livelihood by expressing your viewpoint, then your freedom of speech doesn't mean anything. You have to have the kind of society where people don't destroy your livelihood, even though they might disagree with you. Because if you do, you destroy the whole concept of freedom of speech. I know there are a lot of people who give lip service to freedom of speech, but it would come down to somebody who says hateful things about them.

That's a different test. For Kenny, he took tolerance of others seriously. To him, it was a part of what America is.

I just found him extraordinary individual. You know, Kenny was, while he was extraordinarily wealthy, and of course he left a huge fortune in the Montford Foundation, was the most down-to-earth soul you ever saw. He was kind of famous for his dress, his casual way of dressing. For Kenny, work was what mattered.

That was what was real. How he dressed, the car he drove, the house he had, none of that was important to him. What was important to him is what he accomplished with his jobs and his work. And he took enormous pride, I think, in all the good jobs that he provided for people. So he would come sometime to work with not caring about what he wore at all. I mean, he'd wear red pants and a green shirt.

I mean, it was totally unimportant to him. I remember one of his buddies, we'd hired a guy named Sonny Mapelli, a wonderful soul. Kenny loved his company, and Sonny and Kenny would have lunch often. And at one of the lunches, Sonny turns over to Kenny and he says, Montford is a total waste for you to have money. It's a crime.

And Kenny said, what are you talking about? He said, Montford, it's a crime for you to have any money. You have no idea how to spend it. You never take a vacation. You dress like a bum. You drive an old car. You don't spend any money on anything on yourself ever.

You shouldn't be allowed to have any money. And all the observations were true. Kenny was all about what he could accomplish. He went to a fundraiser in the hustle of Bitten down there. He ended up with one black lace shoe and a brown loafer with manure on it. They were looking, pointing at his shoes, laughing. And Kenny looks down and says, huh, I've got a pair like that just at home.

It's a humor. And utterly, to him, how he dressed or the surface things in life weren't important. I remember when we sold, went public with a stock offering and a very distinguished guy came in from the brokerage firm that was doing the underwriting. We were going down to Denver to do a due diligence meeting, but it was all the stockbrokers and major investment firms and so on in the Rocky Mountain region that had come to this gathering where they got all of them together to talk about the company and the public offering.

So it was a way of selling the stock. And Kenny had a nice pair of slacks on that day, which was unusual, but an old rumpled shirt, brown loafers on that had manure on them because he'd been out in the feedlot. And we were late, leaving the packing plant.

Kenny was working on a couple things on the breakout for the prices. So finally we leave late. Well, this big vice president from New York was getting more nervous all the time because he could see we were going to be late. Well, Kenny drives quite quickly down to Denver. Fortunately, he didn't get a ticket, but the closer we got to Denver, you could see this guy thinking, my God, Kenny is going to go into that meeting looking like a bum off the street. And Kenny was a big guy. He was like 6'4".

So, you know, he was a big presence. Pulled into the parking lot and Kenny casually kicks off his loafers with the manure on them and grabs a pair of dress shoes in the back, grabs his shirt that he had in the back of the car and change his shirt while he's driving, puts on a tie and gets a coat that he had in the back and gets out of the car and looked like a million bucks. And the vice president from the underwriter goes, oh. But he had been convinced that Kenny was going to go in to the due diligence meeting looking like a bum so Kenny could dress up when he had to. But a couple of years later, the stock had dropped from 16 down to 8. And one of Kenny's best buddies was a liberal columnist from the Denver Post named Tom Gavin. And he was a close friend. And so Gavin calls him up and says, Kenny, I noticed your stock came out at 16 and now it's selling for half of that at 8. How do you explain that? Kenny says, Tom, you forget.

I was a seller, not a buyer. He was utterly unpretentious. And a special thanks to Hank Brown for sharing stories about his dear friend. And my goodness, just listening, you would have wanted to have known Kenny, the lack of pretentiousness, the humility.

And my goodness, not boycotting that guy when everybody wanted to because he just thought it was just so wrong to put a person out of business because of their speech. Hank Brown telling the story of his friend, Kenny Monfort, here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country, stories from our big cities and small towns.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 04:13:43 / 2023-04-24 04:18:17 / 5

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