by: Jennifer Fahy
In 1994, a severe drought across the Southeast spurred Farm Aid to organize a farmer-to-farmer emergency haylift to bring donated hay to farmers who had nothing left to feed their livestock. Willie Nelson himself helped to unload the trucks stacked with hay and it was then that he made the acquaintance of Ms. Fannie Simnacher, an Austin, Texas, cattle rancher who was feeling the effects of drought on her own farm. She and Willie were even featured in a 60 Minutessegment on TV about the drought.
In August, Ms. Simnacher, who still lives in the farmhouse she was born in and still has cattle with the help of a hired hand, celebrated her 100th birthday. Her birthday wish was to see Willie Nelson again. The good folks at Meals on Wheels made sure one of their favorite clients got her wish, contacting Farm Aid to see if we could help make Fannie’s 100th birthday a special one.
Willie, of course, was more than willing to make that happen and the meeting took place last weekend, just before Willie’s show at The Backyard in Austin. Willie and Ms. Simnacher chatted backstage for a bit, and then she and her granddaughter got to watch the concert from backstage.
Ms. Simnacher, with Willie, her granddaughter Joan, and Joan’s boyfriend Jeff.
We are so happy to not only know that a farmer we met back in 1994 is still keeping cattle down there in Texas (including a prized bull named after Willie!), but that we were able to be a small part in making her 100th birthday wish come true!
In a news story about her 100th birthday, the centenarian said that the secret to living old is loving God and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine. Possibly being a life-long Willie Nelson fan helps too!
Ms. Simnacher, from all of us at Farm Aid, happy birthday! You are an inspiration!