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Kenny’s Shoes, Book About Ken Monfort On Sale

published: October 20th 2008

It's appropriate.

The new book is called "Kenny's Shoes." Author Walt Barnhart calls his book "A walk through the storied life of the remarkable Kenneth W. Monfort," and it's a fascinating read.

For those who knew Kenny, the title is perfect. But more on that later.

Barnhart, who worked for Monfort of Colorado from 1974-1980, now lives in Littleton, where he is a freelance writer and communications consultant who has worked extensively in the meat and livestock industries. Barnhart, a few years ago, had read a story in The Tribune about former Monfort employees who had gone on to bigger and better things. That included Hank Brown, who served 10 years in the U.S. House and six in the U.S. Senate before becoming the president of the University of Northern Colorado and then the University of Colorado; Sam Addoms, who founded the new Frontier Airlines; and others.

He dropped a note to Dick Monfort, suggesting a book should be written about his father, noting the people who knew Kenny intimately were becoming fewer and fewer. Ironically, Dick had been in discussion with Monfort School of Business folks at UNC, who said they needed something to let new students know who Kenny was and what he meant to the school they were attending.

That discussion had occurred the day before Walt sent Dick the note.

So that was the start, but it has taken Walt the better part of a year to get the book into print. He interviewed more than 90 people and spent hours in research in a variety of areas.

What resulted is a complete history of not only the Monfort family, but of the cattle feeding and processing industry that put Greeley and Weld County on the map as a leader in that industry.

But, more important, it portrays the man Kenny Monfort was -- a genuinely warm, highly intelligent individual who cared about his family, his business, his employees, his city and his country -- a man who made a huge difference in the lives of those who knew, and who were associated with him.

Brown, who was a vice president with Monfort of Colorado before going into politics, wrote the foreword for the book, noting the portrait of Monfort was long overdue.

"Ken Monfort was an innovator. He helped change the beef and lamb industries and played a key role in revolutionizing how meat is processed. He was an environmentalist before there was an environmental movement and was fair to all because it was right. Kenny epitomized the best of the Colorado spirit -- a pioneer who truly cared about his neighbors," Brown wrote.

"This outstanding book helps chronicle the life of an exceptional human being who deserves to be both praised and emulated. And, surely, never forgotten," Brown concluded.

The first chapter of the book gets quickly to the essence of the man.

"Ken Monfort could be charming and urbane, but most of the time he appeared to have gotten dressed while blindfolded. He was exceedingly bright but in many ways simple, a college dropout that was well-read and thoughtful, able to converse on any number of subjects. He was a war dove but a business hawk; an opinionated, open-minded patriotic peacenik with a serious stubborn streak. He had a diet some would consider lethal yet consistently worked rings around his employees. He was a Democrat -- wait, Republican -- who sought out people who had diverse views; a corporate cowboy who was fiercely loyal and expected the same in return. He was a gentle giant who made his living from death that provided life. He was at home chatting with company janitors as he was visiting with bank presidents and dignitaries."

The title?

As a close friend said, Kenny, at times, wore mismatched shoes if not mismatched everything, and there's a story of that in the book. For certain, Kenny was never called a fashion plate -- but, as the friend pointed out, his were shoes that will never be filled.

Breakout: "Kenny's Shoes" will sell for $19.95 beginning Nov. 1 and may be bought at www.bbotw.com, Amazon.com and through Web sites of major booksellers. Ann Lacefield, who owns An Open Book, 4689 20th St., plans to have a book signing in December.
 

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