Walter Kilborn sits on his golfcart Friday afternoon after taking care of the horses at J3 Ranch in Starkville. Though retired, Kilborn loves to stay busy working seven days a week. When he's not working, he looks forward to any Mississippi State football or baseball game. Photo by: Mary Pollitz/Dispatch Staff
August 19, 2019 9:40:49 AM
Walter Kilborn was not meant to retire.
The lifelong Starkville resident left Mississippi State University nearly a decade ago, but he said he was not made to sit on his porch and watch his days tick by.
"I'd rather be doing something than just sitting at the house," Kilborn said. "I would just be looking out at the same thing everyday, watching cars pass by my house."
The 69-year-old worked with the labor, carpentry and sanitation crew with Mississippi State for 32 years before retiring in 2009. That same year, he made his way to J-3 Ranch where he tends to about 70 horses seven days a week.
"I just like them," Kilborn said as he donned his brand-new Mississippi State hat. "Baby, I've been around horses all my life, grandparents used to have them. I don't have any now but I like working with them, feeding them and petting them. ...We used to ride (horses) up and down Blackjack Road, sure did. We just ride up and down the road, me and my friends."
Even more than the horses though, Kilborn said he enjoys sitting in the shade of the of the barn and talking to their owners every day.
Friday morning while swatting a fly with his hat, Kilborn watched as a black SUV pulled into the driveway.
"The students are on their way back from the summer," he said.
Mississippi State pre-veterinary student Courtney Tipton corralled Say, her flea-bitten gray quarterhorse, for a bath in the stall near Kilborn.
Tipton knew she was going to bring Say with her to college her freshman year, three years ago. While brushing her horse, Tipton said she can't imagine how Kilborn manages the horses, property and owners all while maintaining his feel-good attitude.
"It amazes how he can take care of all of them," Tipton said. "He has so much to do and he always does it and he's never upset about it. We brought Say back (Thursday) and Walter just came out the barn just waving and smiling.
"(Say) loves Walter," she laughed. "Sometimes I think he loves him more than he loves me because Walter is the one that brings him food."
Even though he's in the sun everyday, Kilborn just drinks his water and swears he doesn't mind the heat.
"I like working around here," he said. "I really love people in general, if they're nice. I like visiting some. ... I like watching the kids come out and ride and enjoy theirselves. The heat don't bother me, I done gotten used to it. It's not hard work for me."
When Kilborn's day in the heat is over, he goes home to Blackjack and plays with his three dogs on his porch. With the fan turned on he said he sits with the dogs until he's nice and cool. He wakes up the next day and does it all over again.
On Sundays, he dresses up and heads to Blackjack Missionary Baptist Church to sing in choir as he has for 20 years. He couldn't name his favorite hymn or song even if he tired.
"They are all so good," he said.
He said he's hoping to watch Mississippi State's football team play this year, but there's another sports season he's waiting for.
Though the season just ended, Kilborn said he is already excited about watching the Bulldogs play baseball.
"I love to watch them play," Kilborn said. "...When I was coming up, I watched my daddy play baseball and I started playing baseball when I was 14 years old. I loved that game ever since. Blackjack community used to have a community baseball team. That's where I used to play. I played about 15 years. I played first base and baby, I could bat."
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