Dr. Billy Bergin - Loyal to the Land: The Legendary Parker Ranch, 1970-1992, Volume 3, Agents of Change

This spring, our very own author, Dr. Billy Bergin will hold a special booksigning event to re-introduce the public to Loyal to the Land: The Legendary Parker Ranch, 1970-1992, Volume 3, Agents of Change. V3 was originally published by Island Heritage in 2008. When that company decided to shift away from the publishing business, Dr. B. worked with University of Hawai‘i Press to transfer the rights to create a second printing.

Of course V3 is third in a series of meticulous histories. Volume 1, 750-1950, Aloha ʻĀina Paka begins with the first Hawaiian settlers, ends with the death of A.W. Carter, transferring ranch management to his son Hartwell. Volume 2, 1950 to 1970, Senior Stewards details two decades of multiple changes in the ranch and ranch operations.

V3 chronicles the period of time when Dr. B. was actively involved with Parker Ranch. It is punctuated by the passing of sixth-generation ranch heir Richard Smart in 1992. “The re-release of V3 is to let the public know that Volume 4, ‘Enduring Legacy, will be out by the end of 2024,” says Dr. B. “It covers the period 1992-2022, the year of the 175th anniversary of Parker Ranch.”

“One of the things I’d like to highlight with V3 is the cover art, Cowboy Lineup by Waimea artist Marcia Ray,” says Dr. B. Marcia’s beautiful, large scale painting can be seen in the Parker Ranch Center food court. “I can go down the line and name every cowboy,” he says.“About a week ago U.H. Press sent me the first author’s draft and I’m very, very pleased with the quality of the work.”

Dr. B is a prolific and dedicated writer, having produced six books in the last 20 years: the four Parker Ranch Histories, The Hawaiian Horse with son Brady Bergin, and Richard Smart of the Legendary Parker Ranch with Dexter Keaweehu Vredenburg. We asked how he accomplished this, with all the other facets of his busy life.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I think I’m the product of not completely healed Attention Deficit Disorder. As I came into maturity and met my wife, I got to be an excellent student in veterinary medical school—and I managed to publish 12 scientific articles!”

“On the 25th anniversary of my employment with Parker Ranch, as I was leaving, I was presented with a bound copy of all my annual reports,” Dr. B continues. “Then, in 1996, we took our first cruise, a cruise to Tahiti, and I took the book along. I thought I’d look at it and be bored. But what I didn’t realize was so much of what I’d written was about people.

Dr. B continues, “There is a huge amount of joy, but also so much tragedy—from John Palmer Parker to his great great great great great grandson Richard Smart—where events could have collapsed the ranch. But they endured.”

“In order for me to devote absolute focus time, on sitting and writing and researching, I need to be in absolute isolation,” says Dr. B. “On a cruise, for $100 per day per person, I can spend 8-9 hours working. They do the laundry, serve food, take care of everything. It is profoundly productive.”

He credits wife Pat with his success as an author. “I write by hand, and Pat transposes into the computer. It’s absolutely a 50/50 deal that we did and continue to do, and Pat fortunately has the patience and skills to do it. We’ve been on 30-40 cruises altogether.”

(He confesses they do make time to experience their cruise destinations, and to enjoy dining out every night.)

On behalf of all of us with Paniolo Preservation Society, we congratulate the writing team of Billy and Pat Bergin! His books are or will be available in our Gift Shop or online. And, stay tuned for details on the upcoming book release.