Friday was a Golf Tournament at the Oeste Golf Ranch in Weatherford. Unfortunately one of the players, Ken Henry, fell out of a golf cart, hit the back of his head, and he had to have surgery to release the pressure from the brain. Henry did not have insurance. A fund raiser is going to be held April 24th starting at noon. Mo Bandy will entertain, food will be available and donations will be accepted to help defray medical bills for Henry. For more information call the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame at 817-624-7963.
A reception followed Friday at 5 p.m. and photo shoot in the Cowtown Coliseum where the plaques of former inductees are on display, and those being inducted this year were unveiled. That evening 2016 inductees were introduced during the Stockyards Championship Rodeo.
Saturday morning at River Ranch, Cowboy Church started the day, with Ronnie Christian conducting. The Opening Ceremony for Inductions began at 9:30 with Mike Hudson, President welcoming everyone and Presentation of the Flags. Sheridan Hodge Elliot and Sierra Hodge, daughters of Tina Hodge, sang the National Anthem. Invocation was given by Don Howell. Once all past Inductees were recognized the program was turned over to Jeff Medders, Master of Ceremonies, with assistance from Rodeo Queens, Bailey Arrington, Miss Teen UPRA, Tianti Carter, Miss Rodeo Austin, and Sissy Winn, Miss Rodeo Texas Teen.
The first inductees were the Empty Saddles (deceased).
Jack “J. B.” Bradshaw was a three event cowboy who started rodeoing in the mid-‘30s and won monies from Madison Square Garden to Calgary. He coached the University of Texas’ first rodeo team, judged rodeos and was a member of the Cowboys’ Turtle Association.
Skipper Driver directed the PRCA Big Spring Cowboy Reunion for 30 years, was Howard College’s rodeo coach and took his team to the NIRA Finals four times. He was a timed event competitor and while on the Texas Tech rodeo team qualified for the NIRA Finals twice.
Calvin Norris Greely, Jr. was one of the first African-American cowboys to compete at the national level in the PRCA, and a leader in efforts to integrate the organization. He was a strong role model for young black cowboys, excellent horse trainer and teacher of his trade sought by many rodeo notables.
The Trailblazers were next to be inducted with C. R. Boucher, who did not attend due to surgery. He was a World Champion Steer Wrestler (1964) and National Finals Average Champ in 1961. He was a pick-up man for Elra and the Beutler family for 26 years. He was also a contestant director and Vice President of RCA and was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2001. His acceptance was represented by Dr. Fred Rule, veterinarian, from Elk City, Oklahoma, who said of C. R., “He kept a diary all his life, he didn’t like cheating, was tighter than Dick’s hatband, had a deep sense of humor, and a short fuse. If there is a Number 1 cowboy for cowboys C. R. is one of them.”
John Stokes was a bull rider, bullfighter, team and steer roper and a stock contractor. He helped form the first Tarleton College Rodeo Club and won the All-Around there. He had over 250+ wins in bull riding, team roping, and has continued to be active in the rodeo world through putting on reunions and participating in Rodeo Clown Reunions, as well as President of the Rodeo Cowboy Alumni. On accepting he said, “I have had the best partner in the world for 51 years (meaning his wife, Lynn).”
Lawrence Coffee broke the color barrier in professional rodeo. He won virtually every open rodeo championship in Texas. He also won the 1997 Senior ProRodeo Association World Championship in Ribbon Roping and Tie Down and the 1998 TSPRA Championship in those two events. He said, “My mom told me I needed God in my life." I was young and told her, “No, mom, I just need my horse.” He continued and said, “I guess I had faith in my horse, but she was right. It also takes patience.”
The Western Heritage Inductee was the master of ceremonies for the day, Jeff Medders. The well-deserving Medders has been a sportscaster for rodeo, and many other sports, with television coverage of the National Finals Rodeo and much more. He also creates videos of various inductions, including the Rodeo Historical Society Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and activities at the National Finals Rodeos.
Rodeo Personnel was the next to be inducted. John Gass worked as a pick-up man for the 1974 and 1980 National Finals Rodeo. His rodeo career wins included a NIRA saddle bronc championship in 1974, and four trips to the Texas Circuit Finals. Gass had a three year saddle bronc riding streak with no buck-offs.
“Goose” Gregg was a bull rider and stock handler from 1959 to 1997. He rode bulls in open rodeos for 15 years. He was chute boss for the weekly Boyd, Texas, Rodeo, North Texas High School Rodeo Association, Denton Youth Rodeo and Fair and more. He also worked for the Texas Rodeo Circuit Finals and Copenhagen Skoal Superstars, and handled the stock for the bull riding at Billy Bob’s.
The Windy Ryon Memorial Roping was Event & Organization inductee. Windy Ryon founded Ryon’s Saddle Shop and Western Store in the Fort Worth Stockyards, which was always a cowboy gathering place. To honor Windy’s memory, his friends held the first Windy Ryon Memorial Roping in 1973. Windy Ryon Arena has become a showcase for top level calf ropers, team ropers, steer ropers and steer wrestlers. The Windy Ryon Memorial Roping Association has an annual world-class roping event which provides a scholarship program that honors the memory of an area cowboy or cowgirl who lived and loved the sport of rodeo.
Don Howell was given the Johnny Boren Award. Don went to Sam Houston State University and rode bulls in central Texas. He is Past President of the TRCHF. He said his dad told him, “Your word is your bond.” Don has lived by that advice. He was president of the TRCHofF when it moved from Belton to the Stockyards and is very proud of that accomplishment. He still works on behalf of the organization.
Animal Athlete inducted was “Pearl”, or “Big Smokin’ Wonder” owned by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, of Stephenville, TX, who accepted for the 18 year old sorrel mare. She is a two-time PRCA-AQHA Tie-Down Horse of the Year with more than $1 million in earnings. Ridden by Cody Ohl for several years. Miller said, “God let me be the steward over that great horse. Shane Hanchey was at Ellensburg and was $9,000 out from making the National Finals when he rode Pearl. At NFR he split the first round and second round and made the finals in 13th place. He won the average and gives Pearl credit for the win.”
The Director’s Choice was Ty Murray. Larry Mahan was there to talk about Ty and when he first saw him as a Little Britches competitor. Larry saw the talent in Ty and invited him to spend some time with Larry at his ranch in Colorado. Larry said, “He destroyed my ego by winning seven world championships, to my six.”
When Ty came to the microphone he received a standing ovation. Ty told the audience when he went to school in 1st grade he didn’t want to read, but he had a clever teacher that brought him a book about Larry Mahan, his idol, and because it was something he was interested in he learned to read. Ty said when he accepted Larry’s invitation to his ranch in Colorado Larry flew his plane to pick Ty up in Phoenix where Ty lived with his parents. Ty said, “I’d never been in a plane before, and as Larry and I flew he explained all the dials and equipment on the dash of the plane to me. Then he picked up a pillow and said, ‘Ty, I’m going to take a short nap, you just keep this plane on course.’ I was 12 years old!” After the audience’s laughter died down, Ty continued, “What I know now about Larry is he had one eye open watching to see how I would react. I learned so much from him. He taught me how important it was not to be afraid of an interview, and so much more. It takes a lot of people to help you. They told me I was good before I was good. I ate, slept and drank bulls and horses and roping. My sisters and my parents taught me so much, Tom & Betty O’Day were like second parents. Delbert Salinas was up and down the road with me. Jim Sharp influenced me greatly. Cody Lambert was so instrumental in my success and told me to always expect to win first. His wife was like a second mom. I looked up to Ted Nuce and we’ve been great friends for 30 years.”
At this point Ted Nuce took over and said that he met Ty when he was 17. Nuce told Ty, “Always have a good attitude. Your attitude is going to determine your altitude.”
Woman Contestant inductee was Corley Cox accomplished at barrel racing, breakaway roping, team roping and goat tying. She won the 2nd Annual Betty Gayle Cooper Roping All-Around Champion, a 4 time THSRA Barrel Racing Champion in 1978. She has been to the NIRA finals 4 times when at Texas A & M, was a National Finals qualifier in 1992, and has qualified ten times for the Texas Circuit Finals and trained horses for 40 years. She gave credit to R. E. and Martha Josey, Wanda Bush, Martha Wright and her hauling partner for 18 years Donna Kennedy.
Men Contestants were the last group and first up was Russ Baize. He was a bull rider, cutting horse rider and barrel horse trainer from Stamford. He won many PRCA bull ridings. He rode 67 bulls in a row at PRCA rodeos without a buck-off. In the late 1970s he won over $100,000 riding bulls. In 1976 he rode nine bulls in PRCA rodeos that had never been ridden before.
Art Ray competed in bull and bareback bronc riding in the 1970s and ‘80s. He had trips to the National Finals in 1979 and 1980, and a Lone Star Bull Riding Circuit Championship in 1978. He said Wacey Cathey taught him how to ‘go down the road’ and how to enter. He said he and Wacey met a gal in a ‘speakeasy’ and she had a cast on her leg, in their fun making Wacey held the cast and Art poured his drink down the cast. “Little did I know at that time she would become my wife!”
Lane Foltyn was a bull and bareback rider. In 1977 he was Texas High School Rodeo Assoc. All-around Champion and in 1978 the Champion Bull Rider. In ’79 he qualified for the NIRA bull riding finals. He also had many other wins. After retiring he mentored his sons and other young bull riders who went on to qualify for NFR and PBR. He has been a PBR Finals judge for the past 15 years.
Rusty Sewalt of DelRio won PRCA Coors Chute Out Champ in 1998; NIRA South Region Champion, five-time qualifier for National Finals, two time Dodge National Circuit Finals Qualifier. He said his grandfather, Royce Sewalt, of King, Texas, won the Calf Roping World Title in the RCA 70 years ago, 1946.
Monty Penney rode bulls for 19 years. He retired for ten years, then started again riding bulls with his son. He judged rodeos nationwide, and was Bull Riding Director of the Texas Circuit from 1995 to 2000. He said, “If I hadn’t gotten married Donnie Gay wouldn’t have won 8 championships! I didn’t want to toot my own horn, but TOOT, TOOT, by God!”
And last but not least was Randy Vaughn, a steer wrestler, and two-time National Finals qualifier, 1978 and ’81, Texas Circuit Finals Steer Wrestling Champ in 1983, and much more. He has had a variety of rodeo-related responsibilities such as Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo Official, Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge Bull Riding Arena Director, PBR Finals Arena Director, Miss Rodeo Texas Pageant Judge, Windy Ryon Roping Committee member, and National Promotions Manager, U. S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., Copenhagen ProRodeo Program from 2000-2009. He presently lives in Richmond, Virginia. He said when he went back east to live he was often asked where he was from in Texas. He said, “I always told them I’m from Chico, halfway between Sunset and Paradise.” (When I came home I looked on the map to locate Chico and darned if he isn’t right! It is exactly between Sunset, TX and Paradise, TX.)
Tina Hodge, Scholarship Chairman introduced the three young winners, who were Hanna Hemphill, of Huntsville, TX who will attend Texas A & M in Pharmacology; Clint Mayo, of Stephenville, TX who is attending Sam Houston State University majoring in Engineering; and Sissy Winn of Chapman Ranch, TX, who will attend Texas A & M majoring in agri-business. All of these scholarship winners have competed in rodeo events, through FFA, High School Rodeo, etc. They are all outstanding & deserving students.
The inductions ended about 2 PM, and everyone picked up their auctions items, and when we left the building God was giving us a wonderful rain to top off the day.