With great sadness, we learned of the death of Bud Strom on July 28, 2012, at age 80. Bud Strom was a popular Arizona rancher, poet, retired Army Brigadier General, and co-founder of the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering. His death was reported by the Sierra Vista Herald in an article here.

Steve Conroy, his friend and Cochise gathering co-chair, let many friends know that Bud had been working at his ranch all day before suffering a massive stroke on July 25.

Bud Strom was instrumental in the development of the Cochise gathering's programs for young people. Two 2010 videos include interviews with him about the programs. One includes his recitation of his poem, "The Horse Race." Find them here and here.

The author of two collections of cowboy poetry, Bud Strom was a popular performer at Western gatherings.

Bud Strom and his wife Joan were married for 57 years.

Find additional information and tributes here.

About Bud Strom
Books and Recording

About Bud Strom

Bud Strom is a man of many hats, most all worn with distinction and honor. As a youngster orphaned at the age of 15 he immersed himself in his studies at Shattuck Military Academy in Minnesota. During the summers he experienced the life of the West as a ranch hand near Red Lodge, Montana. He joined the U.S. Army in 1955 following graduation from the University of Illinois. Subsequently he received his Master's Degree from Boston University. As a young soldier he rose through the Field Artillery ranks for 10 years and the next 20 years were devoted to the craft of Intelligence concluding with his assignment at Fort McPherson, Atlanta as a Brigadier General.

In his retirement he has taken up the responsibility of dedicating himself care of land and animals on his ranch in Southeast Arizona along the Mexican Border. In his very limited free time he has gone to another avocation, which is writing and performing Cowboy Poetry around the country to audiences and most especially to children from 3rd grade through 12th grade. In this effort, he teaches them how to research and write western poetry carrying the hard times, romance and lore of the West to the printed page. Each year his students number over 17,000. 
Continued below...


Race on the Wind

Dry Lightning

Montana Angels


Race on the Wind

I thought the wind was howlin'
On the border late last night.
Or was it something else my friend
As we rode by pale moonlight.

We rode the fence to check for breaks,
The wire, tight and sound.
Ole' Mike and I routinely look
For gaps or posts that's down.

But now there's something in the air,
A noise we've never heard.
It's not the bawling of a calf
Or the screeching of a bird.

It's a roar far in the distance,
Like crowds of people there.
A cheering for some reason,
I strain to see, but where?

My mind it fleets through days gone by,
I search my thoughts to see.
Old cowboys told a tale back when
Of wondrous history.

A race they say, it was proposed
To run, down Douglas way.
A horse to race from each side,
To run on Christmas day.

Vaqueros from Sonora,
Had wager on their mind.
No bettin' man could pass it up,
The fastest mare they'd find.

The cowboys  and vaqueros
Searched each country high and low.
Found a roan from Arizona
And a grey from Mexico.

Now that mare was grey like clouds with rain,
Her nostrils flared and deep.
Stood proud with tail flaggin' high,
Oh the pesos they would reap.

The cowboys from Cochise were quick
To see the challenge there.
They'd merely found the fastest,
That won the county fair.

The deep red steed that they chose
Was strong and smart and steady.
A winner every one would say,
With muscles taut and ready.

The year's event, a week away,
Had caught the country's eye.
Blood ran hot on both sides,
Braggin' fever high.

The Douglas fairgrounds racing track
Became the chosen ground.
Race day, it was close at hand,
The horses, fit and sound.

They loaded up Sonora way
To make the half-hour ride.
Got stopped by customs at the line,
Ten days they must be tied.

No problem said the cowboys,
We'll race Sonora's track.
But if they crossed the border South,
Then they could not turn back.

The quarantine is law, they said,
Can't take that roany South.
Something 'bout a new disease,
They call it hoof and mouth.

Then genius struck, I know not where
When someone said out loud,
Let's race the border fence right here.
A murmur filled the crowd.

Agreement came from both sides
Bureaucracy outdone!
The betting hit a fever pitch,
The tracks were cleared to run.

One mile was laid out side by side,
With border fence, between.
The horses groomed and ready,
The jockeys hard and lean.

The day was here, the starting gun,
Was raised high over head.
Then with a crack that broke the air,
The frenzy it was fed.

The border east of Naco,
Was where the race began.
And at the tape down Douglas way
The crowds were man to man.

They took off West to East you know,
Two thousand watched in awe.
A streak of red a streak of grey,
Was all they ever saw.

They could hear the horses coming,
See the dust a churnin' round.
They'd strain their eyes to no avail,
Their hearts began to pound.

Ol'e cowboys tell this story,
And I'm sure vaqueros too.
Memory may fade a bit,
But some of this is true.

Vaqueros say the grey took first
On that wondrous Christmas day.
Just listen to the cowboy's tale,
You'll hear it weren't that way.                                                                                 

Well, I know the wind was howling
On the border late last night.
Oh Lord, I love this cowboy life,
Checkin' fence by pale moonlight.

© 1997, Bud Strom, from Cowboys & Angels
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Bud Strom comments: In 1959 an event was held on the Arizona-Mexico border near Douglas, Arizona. The event gained national interest as creative minds were set to work to overcome the obstacles in the way of success. The promotion and subsequent proceeds from this event went directly to the Lion's Clubs of Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico

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Dry Lightning

My day grows dim out makin' fence,
The buzzards circlin' high.
It's been like this the past six months,
The grass is tinder dry.

The cowmen sellin' off their herds,
The drought is very real.
This Arizona heat intense—
No rain—the land can't heal.

Ain't seen a drop fall from the sky
To land on pastures brown,
The cactus bent and  shriveled up,
The mesquite hunkered down.

There's danger comes this time of year,
Late in the afternoon.
As thunderheads obscure the sky,
These days in late late June.

It's not the rain that threatens me,
It's that no rain will come,
As Zeus and Vulcan forge their bolts,
Apaches beat the drum.

Look up, expect the water spill,
From blackness all around.
To only see it disappear
Before it hits the ground.

It's that which pierces all of this,
That strikes my heart with fear.
Dry lightning in my mountain land,
Presents a danger clear.

Firewood cut from mountain slopes,
Brush piles beside the road;
A formula prescribed to work,
And ready to explode.

My cows are chummin' nervously,
Their calves are up and tight.
My horse a tremblin' stands his ground...
We watch the blindin' light.

A puff of smoke up canyon high,
My God, it strikes so near.
I know the devil winds will swirl,
And threaten all that's dear.

I close my eyes and pray this time,
That I am dreaming dreams.
No need for volunteers to show,
No need for sirens screams.

Well, this dry lighting passes now,
The slurry pilots rest:
Their planes can stay at idle...
No need to meet the test.

It will not spread beyond our means'
We give great thanks this day,
That "Hotshots" brave and fearless
Need not be in harms way!

I sigh relief, my cows relax,
I spur my mount around.
Trees still thirst, grass stays hot,
But now we're homeward bound.

Tomorrow late, we'll be out there
Alert with all the strain
Of watching...waiting...silently
'Til dry lighting turns to rain.

© 1994, Bud Strom, from Dry Lightning
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Bud Strom comments: The year was 1994, the month of June, and we in Arizona could not pick up a paper without seeing the drought-stricken Western States going up in uncontrolled wildfire. As I rode the west-most section and watched the clouds gather, I thought about family, house and animals as the lightning struck the hillsides; yet, no rain would follow. The threat of fire is with me each year during our dry season.

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Montana Angels

It was a cold and wintry afternoon,
The sky was black and gray.
We knew a norther, comin' soon,
Arrive 'bout four that day.

The wife and I out feedin''
In the north most section last.
About ten miles from home we were
When we felt the icy blast.

The snow came fierce, 'course we knew
How quick a whiteout kills
We headed straight for home at once,
But slower, with each hill.

The drifts now pushin' at three feet,
We strained to stay in trail.
Tractor lights were of no use,
It's then we both turned pale.

This road well traveled all year long,
We knew from start to end.
Seemed to vanish from the scene,
No longer an old friend.

All traction lost, now sightless we,
The rig began to pitch.
I shouted out, jump clear my love,
We headed for the ditch.

It came to rest upon its side,
In a drift 'bout six feet deep.
Like a giant dinosaur it seemed,
Had just lay down to sleep.

We're both alive and lucky too,
But shaken from our fears.
We knew the trouble we were in,
No time to waste on tears.

For we had kids, waitin' home,
In a house we couldn't find.
The snow, now in a frenzied swirl,
I took her hand in mine.

The roads had given way to white,
The trees and fences too.
My thoughts strayed to this paradise,
Wake up we're not yet through.

I never looked at her, as we
Were now waist deep I fear.
The dark would be upon us soon,
She never shed a tear.

The cold became unbearable,
My fingers took to freeze.
Our world closed in around us,
Won't someone help us, please.

We could not walk, but single file,
With rope we linked up tight.
It's then I said if we must go,
Then take us quick tonight.

I've never seen her frightened,
And I knew she wouldn't stop.
In a blink we thought that awful thought,
Our kids, no mom no pop.

Just then I bumped a post real hard,
Buried in the snow.
A fence with wire we could trace.
Along a road, I didn't know.

But the post uncovered wasn't fence
In fact it soon revealed,
A box for mail with flag of red,
Our fate was now unsealed.

Our house, our home, our family,
Await just up the lane.
And through the flowing tears
We soon forgot about the pain.

We stopped  'bout fifty feet from home,
And hugged and prayed real low.
Then promptly fell upon our backs
Making...Angels in the snow

© 1996, Bud Strom, from Cowboys & Angels
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Bud Strom comments: Montana Angels is a poem based on a true event experienced in Montana by a rancher and his wife near Red Lodge. They ran into the most feared of natural weather events that a winter season brings—a "whiteout."  

Books and Recording

Dry Lightning



A Cowboy's Dream
Olympic Rings
The Big Drive
My Hat
For Ken
The Wannabe
She Walks with Sisters
Is the NFL Just a Memory
A Gatherin's a Comin'
New Poet -- First Session
My Girl Fred
On Memorizing
My Hereford
For My Friends
Dry Lightning
A Simple Cowboy Prayer

Available for $12 postpaid from:

Single Star Ranch
4647 Dead Bear Draw
Hereford, Arizona 85615

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Cowboys and Angels



Diablo's Breath
A Cowboy Wish
A Plan
A Toast
Cowboy Blue and Cowboy Gray
Dudes and Dudettes
First Love
Mario, Papa & Me
Keep Dancing
Mean It
Into Kartchner
Montana Angels
The Fall Drive
San Pedro
The Man in the Big Hat
The Legend of the Roadrunners
Race on the Wind
The Treasure
The Wonder Box
What a Day
You and I
The Wearing of the Green (Southwest Style)
The Cowboy Poet's Wife
Christmas Grinch
God's Aloft
Maker's Anvil

Available for $12 postpaid from:

Single Star Ranch
4647 Dead Bear Draw
Hereford, Arizona 85615

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Lightning & Angels (CD)



On Memorizing


My Girl Fred

A Plan

Race on the Wind

My Hat

San Pedro

A Gatherin's A Coming

My Hereford

The Fall Drive

Montana Angels
You & I

Christmas Grinch

Diablo's Breath

Dudes & Dudettes

Walk with Sisters

The Big Drive

A Cowboy's Dream

Dry Lightning

Available for $17 postpaid from:

Single Star Ranch
4647 Dead Bear Draw
Hereford, Arizona 85615

budstromj.JPG (18990 bytes)  About Bud Strom  (continued from above)

Other than his performances at Cowboy Gatherings and schools throughout the West, his special engagements include presentations to the Smithsonian Board of Governors, the Ace Hardware National Convention, The Arizona National Livestock Show, and a  special private performance before the Attorney General of the United States. Of significant note was his poetry presentation to nine thousand veterans on Memorial Day, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia.  His published works include Dry Lightning and Cowboys and Angels, and his CDs and tapes entitled Lightning and Angels.  He fills his works with the hard time, great pride, tongue-in-cheek humor, and the satisfaction of living the "Cowboy Dream."

From Bud Strom's official biography

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Many know Bud Strom from his involvement with the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona. In 2006, he told us:

My involvement with the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering was in 1992 when I attended my first and then my second gathering and saw the untapped potential of such an art form. I joined what had been attracting maybe 200 spectators. With some nudging and organizational advice the gathering itself hit its stride. We presently attract between 6 to 8 thousand during that first weekend in February. When we introduced a sound children's teaching program based on lesson plans and structure and received the blessing from the Superintendent of all 20 schools, the program took off. From 70 poems the first year to today's program producing over 3000 poems from the children, we matured rapidly. I have now officially retired from the organization.





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