Harold Tibbs, a lifelong horse/animal lover and consummate story teller was born April 12, 1916, in Sheridan, Mont., to William and Iva Tibbs. His parents, both teachers, eventually moved the family to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where Harold’s equine interest began. During the summers, he rode horses belonging to Kootenai Indian Tribe interpreter/elder Simon Francis. These experiences sealed his great respect for the Native American culture. After graduating from Bonners Ferry High School in 1934, Harold fulfilled his dream of becoming a cowboy by riding 40,000 acres of cattle range while employed at the Millard Easter Ranch in Montana’s Madison Valley.
He also worked in the woods around Bonners Ferry and as a truck driver for Big Lakes Logging Co. in Northern California. A horse logging accident near Bonners Ferry resulted in Harold spending the rest of his life limping from the pain of a broken leg that did not heal properly. He also contributed to the war cause as a civilian at Farragut where he delivered tools. He often told of being the last civilian at the World War II naval training station and having to check himself out of the facility. For 33 years, he worked for the City of Sandpoint as its water filter operator, frequently enhancing his knowledge with water treatment short courses at the University of Idaho.
As a person who loved the land, Harold seldom left his ranches on North Boyer and alongside HWY 95 just north of the “two halves of beef” at Colburn. Nonetheless, he’s known worldwide in Appaloosa horse circles because of the time he took his stallion Toby I to the first-ever National Appaloosa Show in 1948 at Lewiston and came home with a passel of trophies, including the performance championship. His name and story appear in several books, including the Farnam book about Appaloosas, Idaho Rodeo by Coeur d’Alene author Louise Shadduck and the recently released coffee table book Spotted Pride where he and Toby are featured in the first chapter.
For several decades, Harold raised registered Herefords and worked hard, through the Bonner County Cattlemen’s Assoc., helping organize annual bull sales at the local livestock auction company. He also helped with the early rodeos in the Sandpoint area when they were held on Great Northern Road and later on Baldy Road. He was an active member of the Sandpoint Saddle Club and the Bonner County Horsemen’s Assoc.
An outdoorsman and marksman who enjoyed rebuilding rifles and constructing black powder weapons, Harold bagged his share of wildlife, including elk, deer and antelope. He also loved to fish. From these experiences came many a story to swap with family and with his special group of friends on Saturday mornings at the Pend Oreille Sport Shop. Harold was a practical genius who could construct or fix just about anything, whether it was a fence or an old tractor. He gave of himself quietly for his neighbors and once received recognition from the Eagles Lodge with its annual humanitarian award.
Most of all, he was proud of his family, having taken on the responsibilities of three small children with his marriage to Virginia in 1954. The couple later “added to the litter with Batch No. 2,” but all six children, Mike, Kevin, Marianne, Barbara, Laurie and Jim, considered him their dad. His influence and many guiding principles helped direct each child to a successful life.
Harold and his 1940 Ford