We lost Ralph Buell, World Champion Bareback Rider 1962; Bob Chambers, rodeo announcer from Oregon; Rick Chatman, bullfighter; Quail Dobbs, hilarious barrelman; Stan Harter, roper and NIRA champ; Cecil Jones, roughstock rider and President of Rowell rodeo; Ray Kohrs, stock contractor; Clark McEntire, World Champion Steer Roper; Bart McSpadden, son of Clem & Donna; “Tex” Martin, bareback & saddle bronc rider; Louis & Frank Quirk, roughstock riders; Benny Reynolds, 1961 World Champion All-Around; Frank Rhoades, bullfighter; Ted Smalley, timed eventer; “Cowtown Gene” Walker, bull rider; Eugene Weakley, steer wrestler, judge; Bob Wegner, World Champion Bull Rider; Ray Wharton, World Champion Calf Roper; Nancy Bragg Witmer, trick rider; Alvin Nelson, World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, 1957; and G. K. Lewallen, bull rider and more.
I am sure that “rodeo arena in the sky” is going to be busy. If only we could witness the competitions that are bound to be happening there between the ‘new recruits’ and those that have been gone for some time.
A bareback competition with Eddy Akridge who won the World Championship from 1953 through 1955 and again in 1961, pitted against Smokey Snyder the first to win the Bareback World title in 1932, and Jack Buschbom another top bareback rider, and now Ralph Buell and “Tex” Martin are there as contenders. It’s time to see if Three Bars, owned by Reg Kesler, or Harry Vold’s Necklace and other great broncs can toss these fine ‘busters’.
Other roughstock competitors like bullriders, G. K. Lewallen, Bob Wegner 1964 Champ, “Cowtown Gene” Walker, Louis & Frank Quirk rosin up their bull ropes and attempt to score higher than Jim Shoulders, with six world champ bull titles to his credit, and Dick Griffith with four titles. Bullfighters that recently arrived like Rick Chatman and Frank Rhoades, at that ‘great arena up above’ are there to keep the bulls, like Bodacious and #61, in tow alongside Buck LeGrand, John Lindsey, and Junior Meek; with Quail Dobbs, barrelman, who will buddy up with George Mills, Hoyt Hefner and Jasbo Fulkerson as they keep the audience laughing with their unique styles of humor.
Saddle Bronc newcomers like Alvin Nelson, 1957 World Champ, and “Tex” Martin, will attempt to score higher than Casey Tibbs, with five Saddle Bronc Titles in the 1950s, Pete Knight who won four years in the 1930s, or Doff Aber with wins in 1941 and ’42. The horses they will face include Steamboat, who whistled through his nose, Tipperary, Midnight and Five Minutes to Midnight will show their stuff and maybe the cowboys will determine whose the biggest ‘tuff’!
In the Tie-Down Event recent arrivals, Stan Harter and Ray Wharton can compete against Everett Bowman who won the first title in 1929 plus and two more years, Toots Mansfield, seven time World Champion calf roper, and Don McLaughlin, top roper from 1951 through 1954 and again won the title in 1957.
Newly arriving Clark McEntire enters the steer roping event and meets up with his good friend and competitor, Shoat Webster, as well as his dad, John McEntire, Everett Shaw, King Merritt, Ben Johnson and Ike Rude, all who won the world title roping steers at one time or another.
The Steer Wrestling event includes Eugene Weakley and Ted Smalley, who recently arrived, against Homer Pettigrew title-holder from 1942 through 1945, and again in 1948; Harley May winner in 1952, ’56 and ’65; big Jim Bynum and Todd Whatley.
Bob Chambers enters into the ‘sky-high’ announcer’s booth alongside Clem McSpadden, Cy Taillon, and Foghorn Clancy, and they tell the audience the history of these outstanding competitors as well as the stock, with little vignettes of history thrown in for fun. Their familiar voices are clear and easy to hear for the spectators, and families sitting in the bleachers, like Bart McSpadden, as well as the competitors.
Although they just got there it didn’t take Cecil Jones, long to stay busy keeping the rodeo moving along smoothly, while Ray Kohrs, took care of the stock, and Benny Reynolds offered to open the gate, when he wasn’t competing in the roughstock and timed events.
Between events, Nancy Bragg Witmer, did her famous backbend trick riding, along with Tad Lucas, Mabel Strickland, Faye Blackstone and an array of beautifully clad performers.
All the new arrivals are finally free of pain and problems and are anxious to get back in the arena and do what they did best here on earth. May their loved ones, who are still here on earth, be assured they are with those that talk their ‘language’ and can enjoy those cowboy stories they love to tell. May they be able to forget the injuries, disappointments and long lonely roads between rodeos. Let them relive those great bronc rides, bull rides, low roping scores and steer wrestling times and still hear the roar of the crowd’s applause.
GOD BLESS COWBOYS & COWGIRLS. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!.