E. Wayne Hage Obituary
June 1, 2006
Monitor Valley, Nevada - On Monday, June 5, 2006, Wayne Hage passed away in peace, at age 69, at his home at Pine Creek Ranch in Monitor Valley, Nevada. He was the husband of two beautiful wives. Jean Nichols Hage, the mother of his five children, preceded him in death in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Helen Chenoweth Hage, who he married in 1999. The things he cherished most in life were his family and friends. The motivating force in his life was to serve his Lord, Jesus Christ.
Wayne won a very public fight for freedom over property. He won a very private fight for eternal freedom June 5th. He was a courageous man with a sustaining faith in God, and a hope so real to him that he did not flinch, both in life and in death. He won. He went home to be with his Lord in heaven.
Born December 21, 1936, in Elko, Nevada, Wayne was the youngest of five children born to parents Reinert and Grace Hage. His father was a geologist, and his mother a schoolteacher. At age 15, he left home to buckaroo for a number of large open range outfits in Nevada and southern Idaho, such as the Moffitt and PX, forming a lifelong passion for the range livestock industry. He worked with some of the finest cowmen in the country, ran mustangs on the Owyhee desert for his uncle, Earl Prunty, and broke teams on buck rakes and mowing machines. He lived in a unique time in history, with values and freedoms he always sought to preserve.
After fulfilling his draft requirements in the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, he finished his GED and earned a master’s degree in biological science from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Wayne and his wife Jean, whom he married in 1963, purchased her family ranch in Sierra Valley, California. They lived there fifteen years, where all their five children were born. While in California, Wayne served as chairman of the Agricultural Land Use Committee of the California State Chamber of Commerce and was actively involved in the California Cattlemen’s Association and the California Farm Bureau.
In 1978, he fulfilled his lifelong dream when he and his wife Jean purchased an open-range cattle ranch in Monitor Valley, Nevada, known as Pine Creek Ranch. Immediately, however, they came under attack from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, denying them access to their vested water rights and range in an attempt to break them economically to create a National Park and wilderness area of the ranch.
Wayne met these attacks on his lifestyle and property by authoring his book, “Storm Over Rangelands: Private Rights in Federal Lands,” which for the first time articulated the privately owned vested water rights, forage rights and rights-of-ways arising on federal lands.
In 1991, the federal government’s attacks on the Hage’s property came to a head when the federal government confiscated over 100 head of cattle at gunpoint. In response, Hage filed a Fifth Amendment of the Constitution “takings” case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In a landmark victory, the Court in 2002 ruled in its Final Opinion and Finding of Fact that Hage had title to his vested water rights and the “fee lands” within the boundaries of his range allotments.
Wayne was actively involved in starting several property rights organizations, including the National Federal Lands Conference, Stewards of the Range, and the Nevada Live Stock Association. He also served on the executive board of Mountain States Legal Foundation, as a trustee of the University of Nevada Foundation and Nevada Agricultural Foundation, and acted as a consultant to financial institutions.
Wayne and his wife Helen, sharing each other's passion for property rights and freedom, spent much of their time together speaking to ranching and property rights groups, sharing with their fellow ranchers the tremendous property rights victory in Hage v. U.S.
Wayne was proud to leave a legacy to his family of a ranch with clear and full title, from boundary to boundary, to which the federal government could no longer impose a grazing permit. Cattle are now running freely on the entire ranch, fulfilling Wayne’s vision.
Not by choice, the cause of Wayne’s life was to defend the property rights of his fellow ranchers and property owners. His life’s work is perhaps best described by friend and Idaho attorney, John Runft: “Let me also echo those many who knew Wayne to be a truly great man. I treasure the times we spent together, discussing not only the legal intricacies of real property law, which he pioneered, as well as the cutting-edge legal proceedings he fearlessly pursued against overbearing government bureaucracies, but also the broader ethics and codes of conducting one’s life. Wayne was Socratic to the core. He knew himself well, and therefore had no difficulty encountering with an open mind new ideas and concepts, about which he would engage in lively debate. Accordingly, he had no fear of taking action if the circumstances merited action. He lived his life, a legacy of thoughtful deliberation and fearless action. He embodied the legend of the West in every respect. He will be sorely missed, but his life is greatly celebrated.”
Services will begin on Saturday, June 10, at noon [PST] at Pine Creek Ranch in Monitor Valley, Nevada. He is survived by his wife, Helen, and children Ramona Morrison, Ruthe Agee, Margaret Byfield, Laura Perkins and Wayne Hage, as well as his children by marriage: Mike Chenoweth (Diana) and Meg Keenan. He is also survived by his brother David Hage (Nancy) and sisters Faye Tewell (John) and Alice Hage. He will also be remembered fondly by his four son-in-laws and daughter-in-law: Jeff Morrison, Jace Agee, Dan Byfield, David Perkins, and Yelena Hage. His legacy lives on in his grandchildren: John and Kristin Morrison; Tyler, Jacob and Katelyn Agee; David, Harrison and Charlton Perkins; McKenzy Byfield; and Bryan Hage.