A horseback protest that trotted through Washington on Oct. 16 turned out to be one of the final rides of Nevada conservative activist Grant Gerber's life.
The Elko County Commissioner, hailed by friends as a "freedom fighter," died nine days after visiting Capitol Hill with the Grass March Cowboy Express to voice frustrations over Bureau of Land Management grazing policies. Gerber was 72.
Twelve days into the cross-country journey, Gerber sustained a severe concussion when the horse he was riding took a tumble in Kansas. He was examined and released from a St. Louis, Mo., hospital with no sign of bleeding. Gerber felt he was healing as the caravan continued on its quest. An ominous email written before the ride began explained his determination. "When I volunteered for the Army and went to Vietnam I did not expect the country to stop fighting if I was killed or hurt. And now I do not expect the GRASS MARCH/COWBOY EXPRESS to stop if I am killed or hurt. In both cases I believe the cause of freedom was and is worth the risk," Gerber stated in the note addressed to friends and participants, and shared with CQ Roll Call. "This ride is dangerous and I accept that danger."
The Bronze Star recipient instructed the ranchers to "carry on" if he was hurt or killed, "[and] then after the petitions are delivered you can then scrape up my old bones and deliver them back to Elko County."
Gerber suffered headaches on his return from D.C. He checked into a hospital in Wyoming, where a CT scan showed internal bleeding. He was allowed to travel to the University of Utah hospital to be closer to home. He died there on Oct. 25.
“My sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to Grant’s wife Lenore, his family and friends," Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said in a statement. The fourth generation Nevadan and father of six "lived his life as a passionate Westerner and was a strong voice for the community on multiple use and resource management," Amodei stated. "May you rest in peace."
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