Nock was named Cattlemen of the Year in 1979; the list of all his accomplishments is almost endless
By CAMILLE DEVAUL
On a chilly morning in Cayucos, California, some long time friends sat around a fire on their friend’s ranch. With polenta being stirred and stew warming in a pot, they laughed and shared memories of a man who will never be forgotten.
On paper, Richard “Dick” Leo Nock was a cattle rancher, a beef industry advocate, livestock entrepreneur, and Army Veteran.
For those who knew him personally, Nock was a lover of splitting eggs, having a horn, handing out nicknames, and most of all, cattle.
There were also many things Nock wasn’t a fan of. For instance, half-empty soda cans or slamming the door on his Jeep Cherokee-because it wasn’t a ranch vehicle!
But when it came down to it, Nock was a good-natured man.
Jo-Ann Switzer said, “Since Dick passed, there’s been lots of phone calls from people all over saying how much he did for them, and they would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for him helping-he really had a heart of gold underneath.”
Nock was born and raised on the Phelan Ranch in Cambria, California, where his great-grandfather, Jeffrey Phelan, settled in 1858 after immigrating from Ireland.
Growing up, Nock worked on the Fiscalini Ranch. And for a short time, when he was 14, Nock worked at Hearst Castle for the big man himself, William Randolph Hearst.
However, his time at Hearst didn’t last, and long story short, it ended with a broken nose!
After graduating with a B.S. in Economics from the University of Santa Clara in 1953, Nock served in the U.S. Army as an Army Aviator from 1953-1957.
It was then that Nock served with the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea and next as a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Aviation School in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Nock then returned home and served as a Logistics Officer for the United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) at Camp San Luis from 1959 to 1966.
Under his father-in-law Henry Gilardi’s guidance, Nock started his cow/calf operation in Cayucos in 1957 and created his T-Diamond Cattle brand.
In 1966, Nock went headstrong into the livestock industry with the purchase of the Templeton Sales Yard, the epitome of livestock and everything he loved.
“We’ve all had something to do with the sales yard at one time in the last 20 years-he’d find something for us to do,” said Nock’s long time ranch manager, Jessie Renteria.
Then, Claude Loftus laughed, saying, “If you were involved with Nock, you were forced to work at the sales yard at least one weekend.”
Nock could almost always be found at the sales yard, whether in the “crows nest” or splitting an egg in Hoover’s Beef Palace.
Pete Clark said, “Dick’s other major passion was the Templeton Sales Yard. When they decided to tear that down, that next to killed him.”
Ahead of his time, Nock established the SLOCO Fed Beef in 1974, a first of its kind cattlemen to consumer type operation. The operation was the first and only in California with a fully integrated beef production and marketing facility.
In 1989, Nock joined the Clark Company in Paso Robles, where he worked closely with Pete Clark.
“When Dick was with me in the real estate deal, we would get a ranch sold, and somehow he was always the first in line to lease it,” Clark said with a laugh.
While Nock worked for the Clark Company, his cow/calf operation continued to grow, consisting of 4,500 acres on three ranches in Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Cambria, CA, with grow and feed cattle in Colorado and Nebraska.
Nock’s passion for the beef industry led him to serve on many boards, including the California Cattlemen’s Association and the historic “Osos Club.” He even advocated for beef on a national level with good friend John Lacey.
“He loved telling people why they needed to eat beef, and this is where it came from-that was his passion, convincing people that beef was the way to be,” said Loftus.
In 1979, Nock was named Cattlemen of the Year by the San Luis Obispo Cattlemen’s Association, and the list of all his accomplishments is almost endless.
But one of his proudest endeavors was organizing the Jr. Livestock Support Club in 1970, which served as a price balancing device for 4-H and FFA kids auctioning livestock at the California Mid-State Fair (CMSF).
Along with the support club, Nock was instrumental in establishing the fair’s first Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Day and the replacement heifer project.
“That was Dick’s passion, 4-H kids and cows. It kinda brought everything together for him,” said Loftus.
Because of Nock, CMSF was the first to implement the replacement heifer project, which many fairs across the state followed in suit.
Nock was a past President of the National Livestock Marketing Association. In 1980 he held the national convention on the Central Coast, and for the first time, the World Champion Auction was held on the West Coast at the Templeton Livestock Market. The event pulled in people from around the world, and 4500 head of cattle were auctioned on contest day!
For many years, Nock was partners with John Lacey on the Santa Margarita Ranch and other ventures. He was fortunate enough to run cattle on some of the largest and most elite ranches in the area, including the Chimineas Ranch off Highway 166.
Nock was a mentor to countless cattlemen and cattlewomen locally and across the nation. He impacted countless generations, and to the date of his passing, many of the SLO County Cattlemen’s Association kids flocked to Nock when they saw him.
Dick Nock was a unique man and true to himself. With a cigar, he seldom smoked, in his mouth and scotch in his hand, Nock never failed to put a smile on friends and family’s faces. His bewildering nicknames and even more interesting euphemisms are only part of what he leaves behind.
Nock is survived by his wife of 65 years, Yvonne Gilardi Nock, his daughters, Brandelyn Tronstad (Tom) Marque’ Nock Molodanof (Jack) and Bretta Nock, granddaughters, Nicole Tronstad (Adam), Olivia, Sofia, Yvonna; a great-grandson Julien, his sister, Patricia Marlo, nieces Kimber Collins, Kami Davis, Bridgit Karo, and nephew Jock Marlo.
In honor of Nock’s memory and many contributions to agriculture, a special fund was created. Funds will be used to support 4-H and FFA beef members.
Contributions can be sent to:
The Dick Nock Memorial Fund C / O San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen Association, P.O. Box 302, Paso Robles, CA 93447