On Page Two:
Your comments and additions are always welcome.
Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Barbara Hall 1932-2007
Sam DeLeeuw sent the sad news of the death of beloved Utah poet Barbara Hall on May 11, 2007. Sam, Barbara's devoted friend, wrote:With heavy heart I send word that Barbara Hall passed away this day at 11:30 am. Her pain is now gone and she is able to stand on her own to give her poetry in heaven!A memorial service for Barbara Hall took place Monday, May 14, 2007, in Hurricane, Utah. Barbara's longtime friend Sam Jackson shared these photos:
Barbara had been in failing health for several months, with several stays in the hospital. Earlier in the year, she had serious heart problems. Her determination saw her through to appearances at gatherings as recently as March.
Barbara was an invited performer at the third National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1987, and also in 1988 and 1994. The 1987 program has short biography for Barb, including, "...Barbara married Claude Hall in 1952, and they ranched until 1975, at which time brucellosis and Claude's health forced them out of the cattle business. Barbara and Claude occasionally worked as a roping team in rodeos, Claude the header and Barb the heeler. Barbara earned a master's degree and taught in Nevada schools for 31 years..."
She appeared at many gatherings and events throughout the West. Her poetry is included in Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass, Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century and the new anthology, Thanks for the Poems; a Commemorative Collection for the 20th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, from Sharlot Hall, sponsors of the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. In April, the Cowboy Poets of Utah honored Barb with their Pioneer Heritage Award (read more about that here) and she was inducted into the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Hall of Fame (read more about that here).
She will be missed terribly by all who knew her.
photo courtesy of Yvonne Hollenbeck
Barbara Hall and Jay Snider at the Western Music Association Festival, November, 2006
[photo at top by Smoke Wade of Barb Hall at Cedar City in March, 2007]
Scott Preston 1959-2007
Poet and writer Scott Preston, long involved with cowboy poetry, notably as a publisher and as an essayist and reviewer for the Dry Crik Review, died March 21, 2007 in Missoula, Montana. The April 11, 2007 edition of The Idaho Mountain Express includes an article about his life.
The article states that,"Scott's friends in Missoula have planned an informal gathering, to read his poems and share their thoughts, on Friday, April 13, from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., in the Presidents' Room in Brantly Hall, at the University of Montana. There will also be a memorial service held for Scott's family and friends later this spring in Hailey [Idaho]."
Ray Owens 1934-2007
Beloved New Mexico poet Ray Owens died April 5, 2007. Ray, a gentle man, gentleman, and friend to all, will be missed terribly.
Services were held Monday, April 9, at the First Baptist Church in Artesia, New Mexico. Jean Prescott and others were a part of the service.
Read an obituary here, where you can also sign a guest book.
You can write to Verna Owens at 1305 East Castleberry Road, Artesia NM 88210.
Yvonne Hollenbeck shared this poem:written April 6, 2007, the morning after the world lost a great cowboy poet,
Heaven's Blessed Today
Ray Owens, by one of his greatest fans, Yvonne Hollenbeck
When I heard the sad, sad news that Ray Owens passed away
I could not help but think how richly heaven’s blessed today.
I can just about imagine what a gather there must be
with Ray and all his buddies making perfect harmony.
He must have been elated when he crossed that great divide
and I’ll bet that J. B. Allen was soon riding by his side.
Then to gather at the wagon with old friends who’d beat him there
and rekindle those old stories …like when Sunny roped that bear.
But perhaps the greatest joy, if the truth was only known,
was Larry McWhorter waiting there to meet him at the throne.
Oh, there must be joy and laughter as they gather on that shore,
but our world is draped in sadness and we’ll miss him evermore.
Though a lot of tears are flowing when we think how we’ll miss Ray,
we find comfort in just knowing how much heaven’s blessed today.
© 2007, Yvonne Hollenbeck
Nona Kelley Carver shared her poem:
A man of faith and wisdom;
a cowboy in his heart...
whenever there work to do,
he always did his part.
A family man, a father,
a dear and trusted friend.
One who always let us know
on him we could depend.
A poet, storyteller,
a man who shared his life
with those who came to know him
and his loving, faithful wife.
A man of deep reflection,
who gave to life his all.
A man who helped his neighbors...
No task to great or small.
A man we will remember,
who always did his part
to share with those around him
the treasures from his heart.
© 2007, Nona Kelley Carver
Bud Strom and his wife Joan attended the services and he shares his account:
[We made the trip] to Artesia, New Mexico to honor the life of Ray Owens. His sudden death during the night following a day of work on his ranch was a surprise to all, though he had heart problems in the past. We arrived at the first Baptist Church in Artesia just as the service for Ray Owens was beginning. What a magnificent church and packed to the rafters. Must have been over 500. The service was very inspirational and beautiful flowers were all over the church. Jean and Gary Prescott were there and Jean sang several inspirational songs before and following the Eulogy. The pastor introduced one of the grandsons and a close friend who mentioned the family present at the service and did a short message on the solid principles that Ray practiced in his life. The Eulogy was eloquently presented by Rolf Flake of Gilbert. Several short poems written by Ray and one for the service written and presented by Rolf. The folks that we knew were the Leon Autrys and the Joel Nelsons. The grave side service was simple as well as the service and was appropriately punctuated by presentations from Gary Prescott and Jean. We shall all miss Ray. Great poet and cowboy and a man of principles who lived each day by them. Having said all of this, please know that he received a most appropriate send off.
At the cemetery, Gary Prescott read Yvonne Hollenbeck's poem (above) and Jean Prescott sang "I'll Meet You at the Throne," written by the late Larry McWhorter.
Thanks to Jean Prescott, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Tom Cole, Steve Conroy, Bud Strom, and others for sharing information.
Dall Dimick 1951-2007
Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks gave us the sad news that Dall Dimick of Salina, Utah, died on February 24, 2007. Brooksie worked with Dall Dimick, who was a mining engineer with SUFCO mines. He retired after receiving a heart transplant and turned his attention to creative pursuits, including painting. His award-winning works are in private collections, homes, galleries and museums across the country.
Dall Dimick also created the images that were the poster art for the Sevier Valley Roundup:
A private service was held February 28. The family requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to any Zions Bank for Dall's final medical expenses.
Read more in an obituary here.
Frank E. Buckles 1909-2007
Our condolences to the family of Ken Cook. Ken's grandfather, Frank E. Buckles, died Sunday, February 25, 2007, at age 97 in Martin, South Dakota. Frank Buckles is survived by three sons and a daughter, 12 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren; and 17 great-great-grandchildren..
A memorial has been established for Bennett County Nursing Home, and donations may be sent to Security First Bank, Box 69, Martin, SD 57751. Read an obituary in the Rapid City Journal here.
Ken Cook has many stories about his "Grandpa Buckles," and writes about him in his poetry, including "Grandpa." Two vintage photos of the Buckles family have been a part of our "Picture the West" photos, on February 5, 2007 and the feature's first photo, October 23, 2006.
Mickey Dawes 1956-2007
Mickey Dawes, humorist, emcee, poet, musician, head of Wildcatter Records, and past president of the Western Music Association, died in Graham, Texas, February 24, 2007. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 3, in the First Baptist Church of Graham.
Read an obituary here.
Memorials may be made to; Mickey Dawes Western Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 659, Graham, Texas 76450.
Tom Morrell 1938-2007
Western Swing legend and celebrated steel guitar player Tom Morrell died January 30, 2007 in Little Elm, Texas. He played with Texas Playboys, Asleep at the Wheel, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, and many others.
He and his band, the Timewarp Tophands, put out over a dozen albums of Western Swing and jazz in a series, "How the West Was Swung." Read more about that series at WesternSwing.net here.
Read stories about Tom Morrell in the Dallas Morning News here (free subscription may be required) and in the Houston Chronicle here.
Ernie Fanning 1935-2006
Funeral services for Ernest D. "Ernie" Fanning—a participant in the first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985—were held January 6, 2007 at the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Gardnerville, Nevada. Ernie Fanning died December 31. 2006.
A January 5 article in the Douglas County Record-Courier tells, "Ernie was born in Missouri and raised in Arizona and Nevada. Ever since 1994 he and his wife Kay have lived and worked on the old homesteaded Finch Ranch located at the north end of Fish Springs. He has lived a full and exciting life and has enjoyed it all, including his time as a cattleman, hay rancher, horse trainer, wagon train boss and cowboy poet. And he always went to Mule Days in Bishop. Much of his original cowboy poetry was from his actual life experiences as a ranchman and stockman." Read the entire article here, which includes a photo.
Ernie Fanning and his wife Kay produced the Rhymers Rodeer at the Carson Valley Inn for the past 19 years.
Two of his poems, "One Red Rose" and "The Vanishing Valley" are included in the 1985 anthology, Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering.
There are obituaries in the Record-Courier here and in the Nevada Appeal here.
Our thanks to Hal Swift for the initial information, by way of Harold Roy Miller.
We learned the sad news from a message from Bill Chiles, via Smoke Wade, who wrote:
"...the Grand Aunt of The Cowboy Poets of Idaho, Roberta Green passed away Dec. 5th. The funeral will be Monday December 11, 2006 at 11:o'clock in Challis, Idaho at the Challis Community Church—United Church of Christ. Roberta was a truly wonderful Lady and a great poet, She loved cowboy poetry... She was a true friend to me, and I loved her."
photo by Smoke Wade
Roberta Green at the 2006 Virginia City, Montana gathering
Roberta Green and her important influence will be missed by all. Roberta Green and her nieces Ethie and Ellie Corrigan started the first poetry gathering in Salmon, Idaho in 1987. Along with Ethie and Ellie Corrigan, she was instrumental in the publication of Boots, a widely-respected magazine, filled with poetry and features, edited by Ethie, 1990-1995. Roberta Green was the author of several books and her work is included in anthologies. She represented Idaho at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1989. The recipient of many awards, she also received Idaho's prestigious Esto Perpetua Award in 2004.
Larry Gibson has additional information about Roberta Green and her involvement with the Cowboy Poets of Idaho here in a December 6 post.
From messages from Donna Guffey of the Sisters of the Silver Sage via Donna Hatton:
Jim Martin, Western musician and an early member and life-long supporter of the Western Music Association (WMA) died Sunday, November 25, 2006 at age 81. Jim Martin was a part of the Sons of the Pioneers Historical Society (SOPHS) in the 1980s, and along with Bill Wiley and others, helped form the vision for the WMA.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 28 at 11:00 am in the chapel of Bellamy Funeral Home in Hiram, Georgia. The family will receive friends on Monday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the funeral home.
Read a complete obituary here.
Michael Raymond Murphy 1985-2006
From Jeri Dobrowski:
Michael Raymond Murphy, 21, of Baker, Montana, died Tuesday, November 14, 2006 as a result of injuries received in a motor vehicle crash. Michael was the son of poet Dan Murphy and Marvel Murphy.
Read about Michael in an obituary here where you can sign a guestbook for the family.
World-famous hat maker Kevin O'Farrell of Sante Fe, New Mexico, died in late September, 2006, at age 57. Linda Mannix, Coordinator of the Durango Cowboy Gathering, writes in her report of the 2006 event, " In 1989, Kevin attended the Elko Gathering and came back to Durango with a vision for starting a poetry gathering here. And by October of 1989 he had organized and started the first Durango Cowboy Gathering with Don Edwards and Mad Jack Hanks along with 15 other poets." The O'Farrell Hat Store, located on the Plaza in Santa Fe, will continue to operate.
Glen Rafuse, 1936-2006
From Mark McMillan of the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS):
We're extremely sad to announce the passing of one of our favorite stockmen and cowboy poets, Glen Rafuse.
(Photo by Terri Mason, from the BCCHS tributes; used with permission)
See tributes and more here on the BCCHS web site.
Sidney Connell, 1908-2006
From Jeri Dobrowski:North Dakota Badlands native son and rancher, Sidney Connell, passed away Sept. 12, 2006, at the age of 97. Sid was born Dec.17, 1908, on the TIX Ranch south of Medora, a son of Dan and Olive (Syverson) Connell. He was profiled in such publications as the Western Horseman and Range Magazine. His granddaughter, Sherri Ross, wrote a poem about her remarkable grandpa for his 90th birthday, entitled "Sid." It is posted at http://www.dahkotahlodge.com/cowboypoetry.html. Sid's obituary is available at http://www.silvernale-silhafuneralhome.com/
Our hearts go out to Jeri Dobrowski and her family on the loss of her father, John M. Janssen of Miles City, Montana, on August 30, 2006. You can write to Jeri at 1471 Carlyle Road, Beach, ND 58621, email.
See tribute photos here at Jeri Dobrowski's photo site.
Visitation will begin on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City. A Prayer service will be held on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons and funeral services will be held Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons. Interment will be held at the Custer County Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family prefers memorials to the Range Riders Museum, 435 L.P. Anderson Rd, Miles City, MT 59301-4753 or the Jack Jenkins Memorial Scholarship c/o Bob Janssen, HC40, Volborg, MT 59351.
Sign a guest book and find the obituary here at the Stevenson & Sons site. Following is the text of the obituary:
John Maurice Janssen, 81, passed away Aug. 30, 2006, at Deaconess Billings Clinic of heart failure following by-pass surgery.
John was born to William M. and Hallie A. (Warkins) Janssen Sept. 17, 1924, at Coalwood, Mont. He was delivered by his midwife grandmother, Jessie O. Warkins. Bill and Hallie ran Janssen Mercantile and the Coalwood Post Office located between Broadus and Miles City.
As a child, John helped with the family’s businesses, which included farming and ranching. He and his brother Lew were 4-H members, raising large gardens and fattening steers. John’s early education was at Coalwood School. When it came time for high school, he boarded with his Grandma Janssen in Miles City and attended Custer County District High School. He left school his junior year and took a job in a defense plant in California. He built B-17 bombers for Douglas Aircraft, making 68 cents/hour.
He later worked for GeoTechnical Corp., a seismograph company, traveling throughout Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas. Eventually he bought his own rig and drilled water wells. He also did dirt work and ran a trucking company.
In 1947, while renting an apartment from Lucille Campbell, he met Alice Fern Campbell. John leased the Campbell Ranch on Powder River for a short time before moving back to Coalwood. There, he leased and bought a combination of pasture and farmland, raising Hereford cattle and wheat on his Twin Buttes Wheat Farm. In the fall, he guided deer and antelope hunters in the Coalwood area and enjoyed hunting elk and bear in western Montana.
John and Alice married Aug. 29, 1953, in Sheridan, Wyo., observing their 53rd anniversary the day before his death. Three children were born and raised on the family ranch 20 miles north of Broadus: John Roger (Lana); Jeri Lyn (Robert) Dobrowski; and Dallas Lee (Connie).
John attended artificial insemination school in 1966 and became a rep for American Breeders Service. John and Alice artificially bred their own beef herd and encouraged other ranchers to use exotic breeds semen. Among the breeds he sampled through A.I., along with their registered and recorded Charolais herd, were Beefalo, Tarentaise, Limousin, Chianina, Simmental, Maine Anjou, Murray Grey, Longhorn and Watusi. Alice’s milk cows were bred to top-of-line Jersey sires. They kept records on their cattle through the Montana Beef Performance Assoc. John successfully raised an A.I. colt decades before it became commonplace.
John and Alice made their home at Coalwood for 45 years before retiring. They moved to a 63-acre parcel on Sunday Creek, just downstream from where L.A. Huffman photographed the jerk-line 12. Happiest when he was busy, John built their new place up from scratch, fencing the property, building corrals and landscaping the yard. He maintained a small herd of cattle up until the time of his death.
As a young man, John’s hobbies included leatherwork and dirt-track stockcar racing. He was a 4-H leader, a Shriner and served on the board of the Range Riders Museum. Recently, he came to enjoy reading Western history, making lamps from hand-forged branding irons and framing pictures. He frequently attended household and antique auctions and was a relief driver on the Kinsey mail route.
John is survived by his wife, Alice; a brother, Lewis (Helen); sons Roger and Dallas; daughter, Jeri; four grandchildren: Jennifer and Brian Dobrowski and John Wyatt and Dillon Janssen; two step grandchildren: John (Ardawna) Denny and Ronna (Eric) Hull; and seven step great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Virginia; a brother, Floyd (Faye); a grandson, Bruce Dobrowski; and a daughter-in-law, Diane (Roger) Janssen.
The family wishes to acknowledge the medical staff at Billings Clinic for their untiring efforts and exemplary care.
Visitation will begin on Tuesday at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home. A Prayer service will be held on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City. Interment will be held at the Custer County Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family prefers memorials to the Range Riders Museum, 435 L.P. Anderson Rd, Miles City, MT 59301-4753 or the Jack Jenkins Memorial Scholarship c/o Bob Janssen, HC40, Volborg, MT 59351.
Poet, singer, songwriter, minister, and friend to many, Charley Hendren, died August 11, 2006.
His friend Gary Brown, past Director of the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, shared the obituary that he wrote:
CHARLEY HENDREN RIDES HOME
Charles Lee Hendren was summoned to the home corral on August 11, 2006 after a lengthy illness. Charley was born on August 21, 1947 in Wichita, Kansas. Being born next to the Chisholm Trail, the great grandson of an old time Texas drover and the son of a cowboy who once rode for the King Ranch, Charley was destined to put on high top boots, a pair of old spurs, screw down his JB and cinch up and ride tall...and tall in the saddle he did ride, right into the hearts and minds of his many friends.
After serving his country in the US Air Force, Charley put on the star and served his fellow man as a sure enough lawman for over 35 years, beginning in Topeka, Kansas. He later worked as an instructor for the Regional Police Academy in Arlington, Texas; was the Training Director for the El Paso, Texas Sheriff's Department and then became Police Chief in Sheridan Wyoming. At the time of his passing, Charley was working for the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy.
The priorities in Charley's life were first to love his God and Savoir, followed closely by his wife Fronie and family, his country, the many friends and neighbors he met along the way and the cowboy way of life. The love of the west lead to his taking up pen in hand and composing some of the best cowboy poetry ever written. His poem, "The Medusa Mare," is a classic in the making, which was the title of his first book of poems. Charley went on to write two more books: The Quotable Cowboy and West of Yesterday, East of Tomorrow. In addition to being an author of original verse, he was a singer, songwriter, Sky Pilot and in the opinion of those who know and appreciate cowboy poetry, an outstanding reciter of verse. His books and tapes/CDs are available at The Cowboy Corral, PO Box 909, Douglas, WY 82633 or call 307 358-6176.
Besides his faithful and loving wife Veronica (Fronie), Charley leaves behind a son, Rick; daughter, Kim; and granddaughter Shalia. His remains were interned in the Douglas Park Cemetery, Douglas, Wyoming, however you won't find him there. Look upward to the stars...you might just catch a glimpse of Charley, riding a new range. Why, there he is! That's him on the spotted Appy...3rd star, just right of the moon.
An August 29, 2006 article in the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune by Allison Rupp, "Cowboy's dream of Wyoming skies, Western lifestyle realized" tells of Charley Hendren's life, with quotes from friends, family, and those with whom he worked in the church and in law enforcement. The article also ran September 3, 2006 in the Billings (Montana) Gazette.
We wrote previously:
Charley was the son of a cowboy and great grandson of an old-time Texas trail drover. See his web site, where you can leave your memories and tributes: http://www.charleyhendren.com/
Virginia Bennett and Gary Brown first sent the news. Gary writes:
Friends of Charley Hendren,
As you are aware, Charley Hendren of Wyoming has been fighting cancer for 2 years. Well, he no longer has to deal with pain and suffering as he was summoned home yesterday. His wife Fronie and family were alongside his bed, where he was confined the past few weeks.
We've lost a good friend, great poet, songwriter and lawman. He is riding a new range and is basking in the glory of his Lord. However, his poetry remains behind for us to remember him.
Cards can be sent to: PO Box 909, Douglas, WY 82633
[photo courtesy Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival]
Sadly, we learned of the death of Bill Ramsey of Idaho on January 9, 2006.
Bill was a member of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho and a frequent performer at that region's gatherings. An obituary in the South Idaho Press comments, "He has written over 100 poems and in reciting them has brought audiences to laughter one moment and to tears the next. His work truly speaks of a true western heritage. He was a member of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho and was well loved and respected by his fellow poets, who honored him with the coveted Silver Quill Award. He was a man of integrity and pride, without being boastful. He was never caught short to come up with a story, anecdote or joke to fit any occasion. But always the meaning or reason for the story came back to, “Do what you have to do, be self-reliant, and resourceful, problems can be solved, situations can be resolved and, what the hell, later on you'll find a reason to laugh about it.”
His friend Sam Mattise sent this poem:
One of the Best
Just a few real cowboys are left
And Big Bill Ramsey is one
He can walk the walk and talk the talk
And he’s done everything could be done.
He gathered horses, he’s gathered cows
He’s worn out three good saddles
He’s herded them here and he’s herded them there
On great horses he’s sat a straddle.
He spent some time out cuttin’ trees
He had a lot to learn
But not many loggers could keep up with his saw
When he decided to turn and burn.
But most of all, he’s my friend
And I’m honored to call him that
And the years I’ve known him, I’ve enjoyed
A Gentle Giant in a cowboy hat.
Cause when the chips are down and the hay crop fails
And even the well goes dry
Bill is there with a smile and a hand
And a heart as big as the sky.
And what a hand with a horse,
None better in this state
He could break the rough ones and ride the tough ones
And never nod for the gate
And when the Lord calls Bill over the great divide
And they meet at the Golden Gates,
He’ll say, “Take over my herds, cause you’re the best.
And now,------- Let’s take a ride.”
For Bill Ramsey, January 9, 2006
By Sam Mattise
His friend Smoke Wade writes:
We had a special tribute for Bill Ramsey at the Rupert Gathering in November, 2005. At the beginning of the Saturday night show, we had Bill come on stage as the first performer... turns out, it was his last Saturday night show. First we introduced his daughter, Peggy Dunow, to recite a tribute poem to her father. Then she called up Bill. After he recited two of his better known poems, he was presented with special tributes and awards: one by Gene Jones, president of Cowboy Poets of Idaho, one by Earl White of the Cache Peak Back Country Horsemen, and one by Earl Corless of The Renaissance Art Center... then Wayne Nelson came up and sang a song for Bill, followed by Kevin Inman who presented a special poem about Bill and his wife, Glenna. Needless to say, Bill left the stage in tears after saying he thought it a very special tribute for what might be his last performance. He said, "I didn't know you all wanted to get rid of me so bad......" in his humorous cowboy way.
His friend Charlie Camden, past President of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho, writes:
It is with great sorrow that I learned of the passing of Bill Ramsey. I like to feel that I was good friends with Bill, and I always had a fun time when we would meet up at a gathering. Bill was always a familiar face at Cowboy Poets of Idaho Gatherings, and was a giant of a man in all respects. I went with him one time to his house and he showed me his horses with great pride. Bill used to break horses in his younger days and always had a love for good horseflesh. I don't believe he was able to ride these last few years, and I know that it was something that he must have missed terribly. I remember the first time I met Bill. We shook hands, and it was the first time in my life that I could remember my whole hand being engulfed by the hearty handshake of another man. That always stuck with me, and I always felt that he must have possessed tremendous strength in his younger years. Bill's brother "Tiny" was even bigger than Bill. Both of these men exhibited wonderful personalities, and were kind hearted and very personable. I shall remember Bill for all his good qualities and for the many laughs we shared at the many "Liars Contest" we loved to participate in. Of course Bill always told nothing but the truth, it is just that nobody believed his stories.
We shall all mourn the passing of this mountain of a man. He is one of many that will never have an equal, and will never be forgotten. Bill was a long time member of CPI, and I express my condolences and sorrow to all of his family. I like to think that Bill is somewhere riding his favorite horses on endless trails. Go with God Bill.
With deep sadness, we mark the passing of cowboy and poet J. B. Allen of Whiteface, Texas, who died December 13, 2005. J. B. Allen, born in 1938, was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at gatherings, including the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nara Visa, and Prescott. His poetry is included in many anthologies; in his own books, including Water Gap Wisdom (1990) and The Medicine Keepers (which includes a CD); and on his recordings, J. B. Allen: Classics, Kindred Spirits, and Treasures. The Medicine Keepers received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award in 1998.
An article about J. B. Allen by Bryan Woolley appears in the December 15, 2005 Dallas Morning News.The article quotes J. B. Allen (from a 1993 Dallas Morning News interview) about how he began writing poetry and tells about his life and his family.
A celebration of his life was held Friday, December 16, 2005 in Whiteface. Bette Ramsey shared the photo and poem from the program, which are reprinted below with permission. The photo is from a painting by Duward Campbell, of J. B. Allen and one of his favorite horses, Pilgrim:
Painting of J. B. Allen by Duward Campbell
With sadness, we learned that Del Warren Livingston died on September 12, 2005.
eric lee sent the sad news of the death of a man who was a poet and friend to so many:
Del Warren Livingston was born August ninth of 1944, and raised in a small rural town in the north central part of Vermont where he grew up with a keen eye for good horses, a true love for the Morgan Horses, in particular, and a passionate desire to train and show them. This desire came to fruition for him shortly after high school when he landed a job with one of the most prominent Morgan Horse breeding and training stables in the country located in Duchess County, New York. After a four-year apprenticeship, he struck out on his own following his heart through a 28-year career as a professional trainer of Morgans, Arabians, Saddlebreds, and even some dabbling in the race-horse business with Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses.
In 1983 Del suffered a metabolic accident, which caused him to gain a lot of weight in a very short length of time, and his career as a horseman came to a sudden and sad end. He had never learned the meaning of the word "quit" and promptly began journalizing some of the many experiences he encountered while he was training. Many of his poetic musings are drawn from his early years and are reflected on the pages that follow.
Del is survived by his wife, Anita, his daughter, Dana, and his young son Geoffrey. He spent his last years in Tucson with his wife and young son. Disability retired, he divided each day into spending quality time with his family and writing poetry and short stories. He somehow managed to also post critiques on many poetry sites and was a prolific reader of the works of other writers and poets as well.
To say the least, Del made a second career out of writing and reading poetry, and of lending his time and talent to the efforts of others. He had two books of poetry in print, "A City Dude Goes Riding" and "Writing into the Sunset" and was in the process of assembling a collection of poetry by several of his favorite amateur poets, which he planned to publish at his own expense: such was the heart of the man, though it was, in the end, his heart that gave out on September 12th of 2005.
There will be, according to his wishes, no memorial services, just a party to celebrate a life well lived. His mortal remains will be cremated, and his ashes sprinkled over the Finish Line of the Kentucky Derby...certainly a fitting memorial to a race well run.
We will miss you, Del. You touched more lives than you knew...but from your new view, I'm sure you'll be able to see that, now!
Letters of condolence may be sent to The Livingston Family at 570 W. Mossman in Tuscon, AZ 85706.
For Tales Untold...
What's a feller do, when he should'a been a cowboy
but he grows up where the longhorn never roamed?
This'n found hisself a breeder and became a stable-boy
sweepin' droppin's up an' keepin' Morgans combed.
He never learned to toss a rope. He rode on different tack
an' he never did run down a single stray.
He grew up to trainin' Thoroughbreds to run the oval track
('cause a man who loves the horse, he'll find a way).
He done the thing he loved until his body said "no more"
(a tale too many of us know too well!)
but the lovin' never left him. He was Horseman to the core
and he found, inside, he still had tales to tell.
He set his pen to paper, and a new love came alive;
the tales he spun would do a campfire proud!
But more than that, he set his mind t'help the young-un's thrive
an' thanks to him, new voices sing out loud!
Now, I ain't much fer Yankees. Drugstore cowboys grind my jaw
but a Horseman is a Horseman; that's the square.
This man's a Horseman, sure as any man I ever saw.
That's one thing I can say and know fer fair!
He might'a never rode the range, nor ever tossed a steer
and no...he never rode for any brand,
but I can say fer certain, if that man was born down here...
Del Livingston, he would'a made a hand!
So here's to PappyDel an' all the tales he didn't tell
that are bein' told, up in that fairer clime.
He'll be waitin' by the stables if I make it there, myself,
an' that man can share my campfire, anytime!
© MMV eric lee
Read some of Del's poetry here and at his web site.
With sadness, we learned that Steve Dirksen died on June 9, 2005.
Steve's spirit, even in the face of his ALS, is perhaps best expressed in his own poem, "Face the Day":
Face the Day
Just when the world is cracking up
and it seems to be all lost
you pull your boots on one more time
to face the heat or frost
cause the day will come no matter what
and the chores won't go away
so you hit the saddle and head on out
it ain't about the pay
you don't know what will happen
that ain't in your routine
but you blink your eyes and greet the day
and hope the grass is green
so all the critters get a meal
to turn life's endless wheel
and when tomorrow gets here
you can look em in the eye
and know that when you rode out
you gave it "cowboy try"
© Steve Dirksen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
Read more of Steve's poetry here and at his web site.
The West mourns the loss of South Dakota's Charlie Hunt, poet, writer, minister, father, grandfather, husband, and friend to many, who died Friday, October 8, 2004 in Rapid City.
The Rapid City Journal has an article here about Charlie Hunt. The obituary says:
Charles E. Hunt, 78, Rapid City, died Friday, Oct. 8, 2004, at Rapid City Regional Hospital. Survivors include his wife, Glorine Hunt, Rapid City; a son, Charles P. Hunt, Golden Valley, Ariz.; two daughters, Roxanne Kindred, Rapid City, and Kathleen Hunt, Texas; and three grandchildren. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, at Osheim-Catron Funeral Home in Rapid City. Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rapid City, with the Rev. Ken Cragg, Rhonda Stearns and Larry Reinholt officiating. Burial, with military honors by Rushmore VFW Post 1273, will be at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. A memorial has been established.
Condolences can be sent to Glorine Hunt, 23046 Hiseaga Road, Rapid City, SD 57702
His friend Rhonda Stearns shared her tribute:
Tribute to Charlie Hunt, Rapid City, SD
South Dakota and the entire cowboy realm lost a hero October 8th when Charlie Hunt stepped on a long-trottin' horse and headed to the top of the Great Divide. Can't you just see him reinin' up as he hit the ridge, standin' in his stirrups eager to get that first glimpse of the place he told so many about . . . the place he carried in his heart even though he'd never laid eyes on it?
We can only imagine the crowd that was waitin' at the gate to say "Thanks, Charlie, for headin' us up the trail that led us here . . . for bein' an example . . . for turnin' us back off'a trails that would've rimrocked us, or caved away an' brought certain death."
What a richly-gifted, multi-talented man! Rodeo cowboy, rancher, horseman, stockman, husband, father, radio personality, sports commentator, mentor, pastor, journalist, cowboy poet, public speaker, author, businessman, honest realtor, loving grandfather . . . friend to everyone he met along life's trail.
I think Charlie could've said as Will Rogers once did, "I never met a man I didn't like."
He had the gift of lookin' past rough edges and unlikable ways to the heart of a person, an' seein' the good that was there. He was humble and patient enough to coax that good to the surface, an' nurture it. He was
wise enough never to quench it with a 'holier-than-thou' attitude or some man-made list of 'thou-shat-not's'.
Charlie's and his 'favorite wife' Glorine's tenure and hard work at a boy's ranch set many a young foot on good life paths. Discipline was balanced with love, encouragement was honest and freely given, and hard work
was its own reward as young men who could've ended up on the junkheap of humanity found the image of God within themselves and grew into all He intended them to be.
What a challenge - what a contribution to the world! What a blessing are those men and their children and even grandchildren whose lives are better because when they were troubled young boys Charlie and Glorine Hunt crossed their trails and cared enough to make a difference.
Charlie's writings introduced a world of people to the life he knew and loved. His cowboy poems - and his signature performance of them for audiences far and wide - brought the romance of his West into the
understanding of thousands who'd never experienced it and would never have even glimpsed it, but for him. That legacy is ongoing as the words in his books will continue to bless new readers for years to come.
Charlie's articles and personality profiles in many publications gave readers special insights into the people and events he painted with words. The legacy of his more than five hundred "Scene From The Saddle" columns in
Tri-State Livestock News is ongoing in many ways.
Some of us have copies of favorite columns in our scrapbooks. Most of us have nuggets of his wisdom in our mental files . . . 'Charlie perspectives' that made deep impressions as we read them . . . fiery words of his against injustices or things he didn't approve . . . deep words of his that caused us to take a closer look at the world around us and to become more thankful for the blessings we're steeped in.
Charlie was especially close to his beautiful special granddaughter Hannah. Through her eyes he learned new truths, gathered still more virtues, and at last truly comprehended Christ's teaching that unless we become like little children we'll never find God's kingdom and fullest blessings.
Charlie freely shared the love and joy of Hanna's life and their relationship with thousands through his columns. Through his words she became a blessing to all of us, a legacy that is ongoing in Hanna's life.
Charlie's talk from his pulpit ('cause he didn't really "preach" at folk) brought hundreds into communion and fellowship with the Jesus he knew and served and carried in his heart; Someone they might never have met, but for him.
That legacy is ongoing, through Christian disciples of Charlie's who will share the hope that is in them with countless others. The ripple effect will continue impacting more and more lives.
A few years ago one of the fads that passed through the Christian realm was "What would Jesus do?" Many mouthed the words, or wore bracelets and pins with the letters WWJD on them . . . Charlie Hunt lived the principle on a daily basis - before, during, and long after the fad gave way to another.
He knew Christ intimately. Knew He was a common, country person . . .knew His virtue extended beyond the whitewashed facade "religion" often hides behind, to walk in the muck and mire of human struggle and pain and
failure, not with wagging tongue and pointing finger, but with love and gentleness and healing.
Many the time Charlie reached a hand down to lift up a fallen one, just as Christ always did, not with recrimination and harangue, but with love and encouragement . . . with a gentle, "I've been there, brother, but there's a way out, and One who'll hold your hand every step. You're made in the image of God, and you can be anything you choose to be!"
Charlie never claimed to be good. He didn't think himself better than any other. He didn't stumble over differences. He knew the price Christ paid to set him free and bring him redemption through grace. He knew the truth of I Corinthians 15:10 - "By the grace of God I am what I am." And he humbly did his best to share that truth with everyone he met.
In recent years, Charlie stepped behind a pulpit every Sunday to fulfill the role of pastor at the little white church just past Hisega Road. The sign out front says "Presbyterian", but actually it's CHRISTIAN. The body of Christ meets there. One of Charlie's greatest pleasures there was to see a lot of cowboy hats on the rack at the back of the sanctuary. He'd have sure been proud to have seen all the ones at his memorial service!
Charlie was an ordained Methodist pastor. He laughingly told me once the only way to describe him in "church talk" was to call him an "immersed Methodi-costal". That was because he knew the full power and illimitable
love of his God with an intimacy sometimes hindered by the doctrines of men. True to his cowboy roots, Charlie wouldn't be "fenced in" by those doctrines, but ranged freely on all the good God has to offer.
Charlie preached many a farewell message over his friends who rode on ahead. He was known throughout the region for always having a supply of Cowboy Bibles available for people to help themselves to after a service.
He had a bunch on hand at the house, and Glorine took them to his service.
If he could've been there, or could talk to you now, he would encourage you to step forward an' meet his Jesus.
Just extend your hand, an' you'll know by the grip you get in return that Jesus will do to ride the river with. He rides the good trails, an' as long as you'll ride alongside Him, you'll never go astray. Most importantly,
when you reach the end of your trail, your old friend Charlie will be waitin' there with that special smile and his arms spread wide for a joyful reunion hug to welcome you home.
I'm lookin' forward to that, 'cause I sure do miss him here!
© 2004, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
Rhonda sent words about the service and a poem:
October 12th. Folk from several states gathered this morning at Rapid City to pay their final respects to Charles E. Hunt.
I heard the sanctuary at Westminster Presbyterian Church can accommodate between 400 and 500 . . . today they had a lot of chairs set up out in the hallways!
I visited with a real estate client of Charlie's who'd driven over from Minnesota. The Lowman's and Fran Armstrong were down from Medora, North Dakota. Tim Amdahl and son (where Charlie used to run his Angus cows) drove in from Eastern South Dakota. Kyle Evans' son was there from Busby, Montana. To know Charlie was to love him, and lots'a folk did.
A rail fence adorned with Charlie's saddle and blanket; a bale of hay and his hat, boots with his brand on them, chaps, his Bible and some of the books he wrote made up a real Western display at the front of the church.
Larry Reinhold of Rainbow Bible Ranch and I were privileged to share the service with the pastor of Westminster. The Four L's provided great country gospel music, and I was honored to play prelude and postlude.
Glorine informed me the first thing this would be a "celebration of Charlie's life" and she didn't want any dirges or morbid music played . . .rather something with some swing in it like Southern gospel. I did my best..
Charlie's sendoff was done in the cowboy way. A group of riders on good horses escorted the hearse from the parking lot at Westminster, leading the traditional horse with empty saddle.
After the military service at the National Cemetery, the assembled mourners said the Pledge of Allegiance (which was Charlie's tradition for closing his weekly church services) and afterward joined their voices in a
rousing rendition of God Bless America.
Then everyone gathered back at Charlie's little white church, Big Bend Presbyterian, for a wonderful lunch and time of fellowship and remembering; with the Four L's providing background music.
All in all, it was just what Charlie would've wanted if he'd been directing it all personally. As his daughter Rocky said, "He'd have thought it was his biggest book signing ever!"
An unassuming farm boy, he grew up poor and plain,
Guided by his Creator, who had a plan to fit his name.
"C" was for his friend Christ, who had died to set him free;
"H" was for the hard times with only bread an' pinto beans.
"A" was for adventure, Charlie surely had his share;
"R" for reliability - where Charlie was, it was there!
"L" stood for all the love that he gave, an' took, an'shared,
"I" meant integrity, the creed he lived by, to show he cared.
"E" was for eternal life, that crown he fin'ly won --
That's what he wants for you and me,
Now his work on earth is done..
© Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, 10/9/04
With sadness, we learned from Charlie and Kathy Camden that poet Lee Earl died August 13, 2004. Lee was one of the original group who organized the Palouse Country Cowboy Poets Association in Moscow, Idaho, who held their first gathering in 1996. He also was among the organizers of the Charley Russell Western Heritage Association who sponsored the first Annual Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival in Lewiston, Idaho in 1999 and was a regular performer and MC of the Friday night show at that popular event.
Kathy Camden adds "...He was active in Palouse County poets, and Cowboy Poets of Idaho, helped make the Lewiston Event successful, and was the founder of the Joseph Trail Ride, and acted as trail boss. His greatest accomplishment was the school program at Asotin School in Asotin, Washington."
Cards can be sent to: Virginia Earl, PO Box 88, Asotin, WA 99402.
You can read an obituary and sign a guest book here. The obituary is also posted here on our page of Respects.
Read some of Lee Earl's poetry here.
This is the official obituary:
Lee E. Earl, well-known and much loved by family, friends and the community at large, passed away early Friday morning, Aug. 13, 2004,at Lewiston Rehabilitation and Care Center, where he had been for only a few days following his dismissal from the hospital.
Born Sept. 9, 1937, at Lewiston to Arthur T. Earl and Ellen I. Turner Earl, Lee was raised in Lewiston and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1955. Lee worked for the Camas Prairie Railroad for 10 years following graduation. He married Virginia M. Holloway June 29, 1958,at Clarkston. He moved to Asotin in 1958, and had been a continuous resident since. Lee and Virginia have three children.
Lee worked in agriculture and sales until 1998, when he retired to spend full time pursuing his favorite hobbies, raising quarter horses, writing and performing cowboy poetry. For all who were privileged to hear Lee recite his poetry, we knew he had a gift with words and an ability to bring those words to life with contagious enthusiasm.
He was active in the Palouse Country Poets and the Cowboy Poets of Idaho. Lee was instrumental in helping make the cowboy poetry gathering in Lewiston an annual affair. He was also a member of the Lewiston Elks Lodge, a past president of the Asotin Fair Board, Rodeo Committee and Asotin Wheelers.
If you didn't know Lee as a cowboy poet, you might have known him as "Trail Boss." He initiated the first Asotin to Joseph trail ride in 1990. It too, has become an annual event bringing riders and "wannabe's" from far and near. Lee led the trail riders in the Joseph Days parade this past July carrying the flag and wearing the hat and the smile we all recognize.
Lee enjoyed working cows, raising and riding horses, hunting, fishing and camping. He always enjoyed a rodeo, playing the guitar, raising red potatoes, roses and spending as much time as possible with his family. Lee and his wife, Virginia, were the grand marshals of the Asotin County Fair Parade in 2002.
Lee is survived by his wife, Virginia M. Earl, at home in Asotin; a daughter, Donna Peer and sons Ed and wife Susie Earl, and Aaron Earl, all of Asotin; three brothers, Art and wife Ilene Earl of Lewiston, Howard and wife
Jo Earl of Clarkston and Bob and wife Barb Earl of Lewiston; four sisters, Ena Mae and husband Leonard Palmer of Oregon City, Ore., Darlene Hostetler and Marge Snyder, both of Asotin, and Sharon and husband Ed Randall of Lewiston; and six grandchildren, Chad, Kristen, Zane, Bandy, Cody and Pate.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur T. Earl and Ellen I. Turner Earl.
Two of Lee Earl's grandsons, Chad Peer and Bandy Earl, wrote the following poem in memory of their grandfather. Lee Earl's daughter Donna Earl Peer read the poem at the Seventh Annual Lewis and Clark Cowboy Poetry Entertainment & Western Arts Festival in Lewiston, Idaho, in February, 2005.
When you ponder on the times of old, or look back to yesteryear,
You recall how much you love someone, and long for them still to be here.
In life we've all had someone, who's helped us along the way,
Showed the ropes through right and wrong, that got us here today.
The man that we are speaking of was a jack of many trades.
Whatever hand life dealt him, he always held the jack of spades.
He always loved to be outside; whether it was horses, hunting or makin' wood;
He would call us to lend a hand...to refuse would not end up so good.
Forced into work, we'd dread the call, when it came in the early morn',
Get out of bed, we're burning daylight, the old man would always scorn.
I have to admit I have skipped out at least a time or two,
But if you were to say that you wouldn't have, I'd call "horse sh**" on you.
He has been known as a rowdy Cowboy, and Cowboys step outa line.
Of course, you would too, if you were drinkin' whiskey while others were sippin' wine.
I'm sorry if the story seems blunt, but we were sworn to "The Old Green oath"
What happens between us stays with us...or I swear I'll kill ya both.
Through all the years and countless faces there is not one he has forgot,
And in his heart for everyone he'll always hold a spot.
Now we know that some of your may be worried about when it comes to be your time,
But you can be damn sure he'll have your ticket, forget about standin' in line.
A childhood hero to the both of us, a real life superman with nair a flaw,
You all know him as Lee Earl, but to us he'll always be Grandpa
© 2005, Chad Peer and Bandy Earl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
U.S. Army Captain David L. Kenney, serving in Iraq, shared the following letter that he sent originally to Charlie Camden:
I only recently learned of Lee Earl's passing.
Please express my deepest condolences to Virginia, the Earl Family and the Cowboy Poetry Community. I consider Lee a friend, mentor and role-model. I first met Lee in 1996 through the PCCPA. His vigor, enthusiasm and smile were contagious, even for a young college guy. But Lee saw something in this skinny 18 year-old kid and encouraged my writing and performing in a competitive, fatherly way that hadn't been done before. He always upped the ante, expecting more and relishing my successes as his own. You just wanted to do things to make the man smile. Lee was one of the strongest influences in my fledgling poetry career, persuading me to explore my own reserves of feeling, emotion and experience, then helping me share that with our audiences. When the Association asked me to become President and put together the Second Gathering in Pullman, Lee coached and advised me to success.
The little things he taught me about administration, people, life and myself are with me today, as a Captain in the U.S. Army, leading soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Looking back, I think the key thing I'll take from my short time with Lee was the man's innate distinction between maturity and growing old. He had more energy and passion and pure love for life than I did at a third his age. He had fun with life! He loved Virginia, he loved his life and he cared about those around him. Young and old alike.
I sit here, thousands of miles away from home, in the weird dichotomy between intensity and boredom seeking intensity and think back to jam sessions in my tiny red house on the Palouse. Or the Asotin County Fair. Or dinner with Lee and Baxter in Pullman. I find I have never really left that part of me behind. More, I've brought part of it with me. I hope that part makes me just a tiny bit better at this.
I still write from time to time, though I haven't performed in years. Now my words are an outlet for the emotional trials of combat leadership. I fear I did not learn nearly enough from my friend, but I pray I can live up to half of what he faithfully expected.
Sincerely with condolence,
Read about the
Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry and Western Music Competition
We were stunned and saddened to learn of the death of Frank Galbraith of British Columbia on July 23, 2004. Many people at the AWA meeting in Ft. Worth in early July, 2004 met Frank for the first time there, where he performed with Matt Johnston. Everyone who met him became an immediate friend. He was unfailingly cheerful and impressively talented, and will be missed by all.
Mike Puhallo sent this notice on July 29, 2004:
I hate being the bearer of bad news but Frank Galbraith passed away Friday, July 23, 2004 at 10 pm. Frank went down to Fort Worth with Matt Johnston and I to back Matt up on the bass. Frank was a dedicated musician whose whole live revolved around his music.
Frank had just joined the AWA and really enjoyed his first trip to Texas, in spite of his illness. Frank was also recently diagnosed with cancer but had not told anyone. I never realized why this trip was so important to him, until we got back.
There is a memorial service and fundraiser for his family today. He went into hospital right after we got home from Shreveport. After three weeks of being treated for bacterial pneumonia, they discovered too late that it was a virus ....
The "Canadian Contingent" in Ft. Worth, July 2004
Mike Puhallo, Doris Daley, Frank Galbraith, Matt Johnston and Ursula
photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Matt Johnston, Linda Kirkpatrick, and Frank Galbraith in Shreveport, July 2004
photo by Judy Shelby
Mark McMillian of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) let us know that: Donations for Frank's family can be mailed care of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society, Box 137, Kamloops, BC, Canada, V2C 5K3. Please note on the check "For Frank Galbraith." Enquires can be made by email at: email@example.com.
We will post additional information as it is received.
For a bio about Frank from the 2004 Kamloops event, visit the BCCHS web site (photo courtesy of BCCHS).
On July 20, 2004 Yvonne Hollenbeck sent the sad news: Howard Parker, a 4th generation rancher in the Nebraska Sandhills South of Gordon, Nebraska, died of an apparent heart attack while checking windmills on the family ranch. Howard was well known as a poet, singer and musician, and had been featured at many of the large cowboy poetry gatherings in the country, including several trips to Elko. Howard was a cowboy, not only working an entire lifetime on the family ranch where he was born and raised, but was many times the Nebraska State Champion Saddlebronc rider, later becoming a popular rodeo announcer throughout the Midwest. Cards may be mailed to his widow, Jean Parker at HC 84, Box 40; Gordon, Nebraska 69343, and her phone number is 308/282-0593.
The services were held Saturday, July 24, 2004. Jean Parker invited friends, poets and musicians to gather for lunch, and all gathered again for fellowship following the service.
Read his poetry; words from his friends including Yvonne Hollenbeck, Virginia Bennett, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, and Willard Hollopeter; poetry from Pat Richardson and Elizabeth Ebert; Ed Howard's column; and information from Steve Green, Archivist at the Western Folklife Center, with poetry; photos, and words about the celebration of his life here.
Pat Richardson has shared his poem:
The deck has been shuffled, in life's big casino
the dealer has passed out the cards
My pal Howard Parker has cashed in his chips
an' I'm grievin' for one of my Pards
He was a sure enough Bronc Ridin' Legend
he tried every bronc that he drew
Not one to complain of the hand he was dealt
he was "One of a Kind" in my view
He'd ear down a bronc while you saddled him up
makin' sure that things were just right
He'd help you up, when you really got down
an' he'd sure watch your back in a fight
But he wasn't as tough as he tried to let on
had a soft spot he kept out of sight
like in Arvada, when Yvonne told her poem
he cried like a baby that night
So here's to a Cowboy, Musician, an' Poet
who left a big crease in my mind
An' knowin' ol' Howard - he'll raise Hell in Heaven
but they'll let him - He's one of a kind
© 2004, Pat Richardson
Pat Richardson and Howard Parker at Arvada, 2004
photo courtesy of Yvonne Hollenbeck
Howard Parker and Jean Prescott at Arvada, 2004
photo courtesy of Yvonne Hollenbeck
Elizabeth Ebert shared her poem:
No disrespect is meant to Howard--nor to God--
But not that mustached face beneath a halo's rim
Those flowing robes of white would hindrance be
His boots and Stetson better suited him.
Give him a horse with wings to gallop past
Those fancy mansions on a golden street
Somewhere far out to Heaven's prairie land
A simpler place where all old cowboys meet.
To push back hats from weary, windburned faces
To rest their well worn boots upon the rail
And talk of cattle--always talk of cattle--
And wind and blizzard, and of drouth and hail
Spring rains, lush grass, long trails--and cattle--
Both good and bad with humor and with wit,
A wit that boldly stares down trial and trouble
Honed sharp upon the steel of cowboy grit.
Then someone sees guitar and calls for music
The melodies float out upon the air
The lesser angels drop their harps to listen
And all of Heaven knows that Howard' s there.
© July 25, 2004, Elizabeth Ebert
Linda Kirkpatrick's father, Alton Kirkpatrick, died August 18, 2003. He was born in 1920 in Segovia, Texas, a rancher all of his life.
Many know Linda's father through her poetry, in particular For My Dad (below and My Cowgirl Life (" I toddled out behind my Dad cause I thought I was a hand/ Just a regular ole cowpuncher riding for his brand") and through the photographs and stories in her book, Somewhere in the West.
For My Dad
He sits and watches the sun sink low
Behind the hills of life.
His thoughts are shattered and his memry's
Are torn apart in strife.
Sometimes he remembers his favorite mare,
Her smooth and easy gait.
And as quick as it came it is gone again
Why oh why can't it wait?
He is pretty sure that this is his hat
However it may not be.
As he sits in a chair and tries to remember
The time when he was young and free.
Yes, there once was a time not like this
When he was a different soul,
One who would rise before the dawn
Just to check out a new- born foal.
A man who has cowboyed all his life,
Who rode for only one brand.
Who did all that he could but still had time
To hold a little girl's hand.
But now the tables have greatly changed
And I am at such a great loss.
A disease has consumed my right hand man
And left me the only boss.
There is no one to answer my questions.
No one to help me feed.
No one to help fix the creaky ole mill.
No one to take the lead.
But he and I can still reminisce 'bout those other days
And about the things that we did together.
We can talk of the cattle, the horses and dogs
The rains and the hot summer weather.
We can talk and I hope that some memory
Will stay with him in his heart
A memry' of times shared together
And how we never will part.
© 2002, Linda Kirkpatrick
Linda told us: This photo is my dad, Alton Kirkpatrick, me and a longhorn. I was very upset when this photo was made and remember every bit of it. You see my dad made me sit in that saddle, on that longhorn, in a DRESS!! Now what cowgirl do you know would ride a longhorn in a DRESS!? I was highly offended that my dad expected me to sit in that saddle in a dress. That nasty little look that I have on my face is not out of fear of that big ole steer it is because I had to sit up there in a dress!!! Daddy was standing there to keep me from bailing off!! He carried that photo in his wallet until a few years ago when I talked him out of it!!
Tex Tumbleweed brought us the sad news that Tex's friend and ours "Wild Bill" Halbert was found dead August 8, 2003, murdered in an apparent robbery. The Dallas Morning News (registration required) and the Tyler Morning Telegraph both carried accounts of the crime and of Bill Halbert's life.
Rev. Steve Glosup, who officiated at the funeral service in Canton, Texas said that Bill "could be captured with two words: cowboy and Christian."
The Dallas Morning News began its article saying "Bill Halbert was his own trail boss, chiseling 73 self-made years as a horseman and handyman, a trader and collector, a Western poet and artisan" and they used lines from his poem, When I Die, to frame the fine article about his life:
Have a cowboy sing for me, my
'Here lies a cowboy who is now home free.'
Tex Tumbleweed writes: "Meeting Bill Halbert was a turning point in my life. A poet friend encouraged me to send him a poem I had written about a wild mustang. From that time on Bill published everything I wrote about cowboys and horses. There did not seem to be that many outlets at the time for western poetry, and I most likely would have given up writing it. He urged me to continue, and told me that I could hold my own with any of the cowboy poets writing today... I thank Bill Halbert for giving me the spunk to keep on keepin' on, as Bill would say, and continue writing what I love best -- cowboy poetry."
A Tribute to Wild Bill
Bill sat tall in his saddle
he held his head up high and proud
as he rode off into the sunset
to disappear up in a cloud.
His own taped voice echoed when
he sang his poem, "When I Die";
then we bowed heads and said a prayer
and told our saddle pal goodbye.
But later on we did recall
the days when things were not so sad;
the days we rode along with him
and shared the good times with the bad.
We galloped across the pages of
so many journals of poetry
with this trail boss, our editor--
and never a bad poet did he see.
He just took every tenderfoot,
turned them into a seasoned hand,
and all the time he taught them to
revere God's creatures and His land.
These memories we now will fold
and store so carefully away
to warm our heart and spirit on
a sad and dreary sort of day.
God bless you on this final ride;
Wild Bill, our hearts are by your side.
© 2003, Tex Tumbleweed
Poet and Wild Bill's friend eric lee added his tribute:
Another Hand for Heaven
There's a mighty herd in Heaven, and the widest range of all.
The steers are stars, and Angels sing that lonesome cattle call.
Look in the sky: they're all in place, each where it's always been
'cause only the best of cowboys make it in.
The drive goes on forever, but the drovers never tire,
and nowhere will you see a single fence made of barbed-wire.
The best horses ever make the Lord's remuda quite a sight,
An' a cowboy's always singin' in the firelight.
Though you'd think, sure, enough of us were scoutin' trail ahead
T'make sure there's a water-hole every place we make our bed,
The trail-boss up there's always lookin' for another hand,
One more cowboy who'll ride for Heaven's brand.
I'm talkin' to the trail-boss every night before I sleep
About a cowboy that I know who's trail is getting ' steep.
He's got my best references, (though who knows what that's worth?)
Wild Bill, he's been a true friend here on Earth.
Lord, (Boss) we're sendin' up the best of hands for you to hire,
Tell all them other drovers, make some room, there by the fire.
He's earned his keep, an' more, an' he'll be yours before too long,
An' you've got our word: He'll do to take along.
© 2001, eric lee
As Jim John's father was dying, Jim wrote to us and shared his poem, saying it...
... talks of a special man, my Dad. He was raised in the small town of Holdredge, Nebraska, born in '25. When he got out of high school he headed to Wyoming to be a cowboy. He worked for a couple of spreads, the Flying E out of Glendo, Wyoming, owned by Harry Twiford, and he worked for George Mitchell out of Wheatland, Wyoming. He rodeoed some. Bulldogging was his specialty.
As he got along in years he'd watch rodeos on TV, but he didn't want to go to them because he couldn't ride in them. But he never forgot those years as a cowboy.
I'm speaking in the past tense because he's leaving us. He riding a nasty nag called pancreatic cancer. He's a hell of a rider, but it's just a matter of time now. I hope and pray that happy trails are awaiting him over the next cloud.
The poem was written in 1998 for his birthday. I just added the last verse.
Sadly, on July 26, 2003, Jim told us "Dad was thrown at 2:35 AM last night. He slipped into a deep coma late last evening and finally moved on a few hours later."
There's been many a famous cowboy
That's roamed the American West,
But one comes to mind, a special kind,
When I think of the very best.
No longer does he roam the plains
He ain't exactly tall and lean.
It's been years since he sat a saddle.
He's no longer hard and mean.
He ain't got no fancy handle
Like Ringo or Buffalo Bill.
His name was never at the top
Of some national rodeo bill.
But he'll always be the best one
Since the time of the western forts.
He's known around this old corral
As the cowboy Anton Schwarz.
I ain't never called him Pappy,
Seldom called him Dad.
Reckon that's because he weren't
The first one I ever had.
I mostly call him Tony
Sometimes it's just "old man."
But when it comes to cowboys
I'm surely his biggest fan.
He might think riding was real tough
Or wrestlin' big old steers.
But the deadly job of "stepdad"
Has aged him beyond his years.
Breaking a horse ain't nothing
Compared to being a Dad.
And even though he's my second one,
He's the best that I've ever had.
That's not to short my first Dad
He did what he could do.
But with over forty years on the job
It's a title Tony's earned too.
So here's a toast to my favorite cowpoke
He's better than Hoppy or Roy.
Cause he stuck in through thick and thin
And raised him this here cowboy.
He's leaving us now, riding away.
Astride a tall handsome bay.
When you see him, Lord, give him our love.
We'll meet around the campfire someday.
So long, Dad.
© 1998, revised 2003, James H. "Jim" John
Beloved cowboy, poet, and gentleman Sunny Hancock passed away peacefully May 15, 2003.
May 21, 2003:
Members of the Cowboy Poetry "tribe" have established the "Friends of Sunny Hancock Donation Fund" for the Hancock family. Funds can be sent to:
1304 S. Foothill Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Attn: "Friends of Sunny Hancock Donation Fund"
In writing to the family, Teresa Jordan said that the fund is "a small way for us to acknowledge the big beautiful world that Sunny and Alice and your whole family have nurtured for the rest of us."
Virginia Bennett, in helping to spread the word, writes "This fund is a wonderful way to help Alice Hancock with the medical expenses and other financial burdens that occurred during Sunny's illness. I love this because
it is a great way for us to show our love and support for all that Sunny and Alice have meant to us over the years. I encourage you to reread Sunny's poetry, and see again what a great traditionalist he was. His book, Horse Tracks Through the Sage, published in collaboration with Jesse Smith, just won another award from an Arizona book publishers' organization. With the photos of Sunny and Alice working on the ZX Ranch over the years and the purely rhymed and carefully metered poetry (of both Sunny and Jesse), it is a treasure to read.
Contributing to this fund will not only help to cover some of the costs that always arise with a catastrophic illness such as this, it also shows the family how much Sunny meant to us. Sunny was at the very first cowboy poetry gathering in Elko in 1985. And we enjoyed him so much at the most recent one in 2003, and all the years in between.
No gift would be too small, as it all adds up! Alice will receive a list of contributors to the fund."
Ode to My Lady, My Wife
I had all my Christmas shopping done,
all that I had to do,
All that I had left to get this year
was one small gift for you;
The sort of thing I find
with which is very simply dealt
A gift which would explain to you
exactly how I felt.
Then my mind began to wander
as my mind will sometimes do,
Running back along the days and times
and years I've spent with you.
And as I got to thinking
of those cherished yesterdays,
It dawned on me that we've been
down the road quite a ways.
We've worked some tacky ranches
and we lived in weathered shacks
Where the wind would blow the lamp out
when it whistled through the cracks.
You'd take care of me and both the kids,
and hold a job in town,
And still have time to smile
and spread a lot of love around.
If I'd come home disgusted,
grumbling 'bout the job I had,
Just a little time with you
and then things wouldn't look so bad.
Then later when we'd bought the ranch
and you cooked at the school,
I was workin' in the woods
all day so usually as a rule
You'd have to do the feedin',
chop the ice and if you could,
Milk the cow and feed the 'leppies
and then sometimes split some wood.
And if I'd get home way after dark
from puttin' in my hours;
I'd find that you just pulled a calf
or maybe doctored one with scours.
You never did complain much
always had a lot of heart;
Only maybe just to mention
that the tractor wouldn't start.
Then when school was out for summer
golly, what a happy day.
You could spend it changing hand line
floodin', workin' in the hay
Should have had three men
to help with all the work you had to do.
I'd be there afternoons and weekends
and somehow we made it through.
And now when you look in the mirror
at the lady standing there,
Why there's some wrinkles in her forehead,
and some silver in her hair.
She's maybe packin'
just a little bit of extra weight
And you don't like what you see there
but to me she sure looks great.
So while we're lookin' at that image,
why, we maybe won't agree,
But here's what that reflection
standin' up there means to me.
She's my Wife and she's my Partner,
she's my Mate and she's my Friend,
She's the Mother of my children,
she's my Lover, then again,
My Companion on life's highway;
she'll light up the blackest night.
Life seems just a wee bit better
any time that she's in sight.
She's my Teacher, an she's taught me
that life really can be fun.
Don't you worry 'bout a few gray hairs,
you've earned 'em every one.
Now as far as Christmas shoppin',
guess I didn't do so good,
Bought you something pretty common
like you might have known I would.
Since your present ain't so special
and it ain't too big a deal,
I thought I'd write a note to you
and tell you kinda how I feel.
If God would grant a wish for me
(I'm sure just one would do),
I'd simply wish that I could spend
a lot more years with you.
Your Loving Husband
© 2002, Sunny Hancock, reprinted with permission from Horse Tracks Through the Sage
'leppies, orphan calves
hand line, short irrigation pipes moved by hand
Virginia Bennett wrote on May 17: [The Hancock] children have told me that we will never know "how overwhelmed our mom was from all the calls, cards, prayers and love that has come her way from you, her "Poetry Family." And we will never ever be able to THANK-YOU!!!!! enough, but THANK-YOU! from the bottom of our hearts."
The Hancock family's address is: 93509 Leehmann Lane, Lakeview, OR 97630
Nona Kelley Carver sent this poem, saying, "This poem seems to apply to our friend, the late Sunny Hancock":
An Old Cowboy's Prayer
been a long time coming, Lord,
But now, I'm riding in.
I see those gates just shining,
Where no pain is felt within.
I heard the angels singing, Lord,
When they came to escort me.
They let me ride my favorite mare
On in to eternity.
I'm thankful for my days on earth,
And my family there below.
They knew quite well my time had come,
But they grieved to see me go.
I ask that you give them comfort, Lord,
For I'm in a better place.
Please let them know that I rest in peace,
Thanks to your matchless grace.
I'm thankful that you blessed me with
A long and eventful life;
For a happy home with my children close,
And a loving and faithful wife.
Please let them know that I love them, Lord,
And all fear has been put aside.
I will wait for a grand reunion,
When they, too, cross the Great Divide.
© 2001, Nona Kelley Carver
Poet Paul Bliss shared this story about Sunny:
I'd got an e-mail the other day tellin' me about Sunny. Can't seem to get him off my mind. Thought I'd share a story about him when he was a cowboss. My pardner Leon Flick's dad took him to a brandin'. Sunny was a shoutin' orders to one of the hands to rope a certain steer. Not only did this hand miss, but he stirred up the herd. Well, Sunny started cussin' that hand with language only fit for a for a salty brandin' crew. Spurred his horse around, over and undered' him with his rope. With his horse a buckin', Sunny ropes that breachy steer, drags him back to the brandin' fire still cussin' that cowboy and never missin' a beat, a word, or drawin' a short breath. Leon's dad looked down at him an' said how would ya like to work for that cowboss.
Leon answered "Oh dad, I don't think I could ever work for him," Just so you know, Leon Flick is a top hand. Sunny Hancock is a top hand and expected everyone to be just as good as he was. Sunny Hancock is someone every Cowboy, Wrangler, buckaroo, Rancher, Absentee Owner & Cowboy Poet can look up to. He may not be a man of money, but he has a billion dollars worth of integrity.
Sunny's friend and "partner in rhyme" Chris Isaacs added "that's vintage Sunny Hancock...the kicker is that Leon did work for Sunny for a while and found out that all Sunny asked was that you make a hand."
(In lieu of flowers, the family had requested donations to Home Hospice (Lakeview Hospice, 700 S J St, Lakeview, OR 97630.)
May 22, 2003: The Lake County Examiner printed this obituary (reprinted with their permission):
Lee R. “Sunny” Hancock
Lee R. “Sunny” Hancock, Jr., 72, passed away Thursday, May 15 after a short battle with cancer.
Sunny was born to Lee Roy and Flora (Tissaw) Hancock, Sr. at Williams, Ariz. on Feb. 5, 1931. He grew up in the Williams area where he attended school before attending the University of Flagstaff for one year.
He enlisted into the Navy in 1950 and served aboard the Carrier, USS Lake Champlain and was honorably discharged in 1953. He moved to Medford from Arizona in 1956 where he met Alice Johnson and they were married in Ashland on May 3, 1958. His experience as a a “cow puncher” during his early years and his love of the great outdoors brought him to Paisley in 1961 to work for the Bud Currier and Red Withers ranches before going to the ZX Ranch in 1963 where he finished his buckaroo career as cow boss. He moved to Lakeview and worked for Weyerhaeuser Co. and operated his own ranch until retiring in 1993.
Sunny was a well known Cowboy Poet and has been a participant in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev. since its beginning in 1985. He has shared his poetry with many audiences from Washington D.C. to the West Coast, and was much admired and loved by his fellow poets.
He is survived by his wife, Alice Hancock of Lakeview; son and daughter-in-law, Jeffrey “Jake” Leland and Rhonda Hancock of Lakeview; daughter and son-in-law, Vicki and Randy Huck of Culver; sister, Norma Shihady; sister and brother-in-law, Alex and Betty Macias; grandchildren, Kati Lynn Huck, Alaina Dawn Hancock, Annie Renee Hancock, Kevin Lee Huck and Aaron Leland Hancock; great-granchild, Logan Lee Huck and numerous nieces and nephews.
A service celebrating his life was held Sunday, May 18 at the Lakeview Eagles Lodge. Military honors were provided by the Lakeview VFW Post 4070. Private inurnment will be at a later date.
Your recollections are welcome. Email us.
Larry McWhorter, loved and respected by all who had the good fortune to pass his way, left this world on March 19, 2003.
I'll Meet You at the Throne
Dear friend we’ve been through many miles and years,
We know each other so well.
There’s stories between us that bring smiles and tears
And secrets we’ll never tell.
But the One who has known us before we were born
And gave us each other as friends,
Will call one to Heaven and leave one behind,
But that’s not where fellowship ends.
Chorus: I’ll meet you at the Throne,
Where our crowns we’ll lay at His feet.
Let us never forget there’s a rendezvous set
Where once again we’ll meet.
We’ll sing, ‘Holy, holy’ and ‘Worthy is He’
Who has called unto Himself His own,
Be it first you or me, let us hear now agree,
I’ll meet you at the Throne.
If I go before you please don’t be despaired,
It’s where I long to be,
The mansion is finished my Lord has prepared
And there it waits for me.
All the angelic beings and saints gone before,
Will shout when those gates I walk through.
In heaven there’s plenty of room for one more,
And your place is waiting there, too.
Chorus: I’ll meet you at the Throne,
Where our crowns we’ll lay at His feet.
Let us never forget there’s a rendezvous set
Where once again we’ll meet.
We’ll sing, ‘Holy, holy’ and ‘Worthy is He’
Who has called unto Himself His own,
Be it first you or me, let us hear now agree,
I’ll meet you at the Throne.
by Larry McWhorter
Larry shared the above poem with us in September, 2002, in preparation for a feature about his friend Jean Prescott, who sings this song on her album, Tapesty of the West.
Larry and Andrea's friend Sally Harper Bates also sings "I'll Meet You at the Throne." She wrote the following poem in February, 2003:
For My Friends,
Larry & Andrea
If we're thinkin' on God's time clock
When we wander through our days
We would see things pretty different,
As on life we gently graze.
We would know a thousand years
Are but one day to God above
And our lives are but a vapor
Filled with all His precious love!
So if you should go before me,
Don't forget to glance behind
'Cuz I'll be there in a moment
Don't you worry - never mind.
And this race on earth ain't over,
If I get there 'fore you do
I'll be standin' at the table,
We'll be waitin' grace on you!
© 2/2003, S. Bates
The Fort Worth Star Telegram Obituary:
Larry Frank McWhorter
1957 - 2003
Larry Frank McWhorter, 46, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, March 19, 2003.
Funeral: 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Weatherford. Burial: Oakland Cemetery, Weatherford. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at White's Funeral Home in Weatherford.
Memorials: Cross My Heart Ministries, Box 1362, Weatherford, Texas 76086, or First United Methodist Church Building Fund, 301 S. Main St., Weatherford, Texas 76086.
Larry was reared on ranches in the Texas Panhandle. He attended high school in Canadian and graduated from Clarendon College in Clarendon. Mr. McWhorter then pursued his dream of working for big ranching outfits and living the pure cowboy life.
In 1989 he began writing western poetry. His work received national recognition. He was named Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists in 1998. In 1999 his album, "The Open Gate," received the Academy of Western Artists Poetry Album of the Year award. His book, "Contemporary Cowboy Poetry," received national awards from Westerners International and the Arizona Book Publishers GLYPH Award.
In addition to writing and performing his poetry, Larry was a certified lay speaker of the United Methodist Church. He had a passion for the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and loved sharing his faith. Larry knew that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It was this conviction that motivated his life.
Survivors: Larry McWhorter is survived by his wife, Andrea; daughters, Abigail, Kimberly and Amber and husband, Kevin; son, Josh and wife, Sarah; three grandchildren; mother, Pat Harper and husband, Doug; father, Frankie McWhorter and wife, Virginia; grandmother, Evelyn McWhorter; sister, Denise Gann and husband, Paul; brother, Sam McWhorter and wife, Bonnie; numerous aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews; a precious church family; and many friends.
Published in the Star-Telegram on 3/21/2003, where you can leave a message in a guestbook until April 20.
Art Chapman's article in the March 22, 2003 edition of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Larry McWhorter, poet on horseback, quotes Debra Hill's words below and includes this about Larry from Red Steagall: "He was one of the kindest, sweetest human beings I ever met. He was a professional cowboy, so when he wrote about that lifestyle, he wrote about it correctly. He was my friend and I loved him dearly."
Joe Simnacher's story, Larry Frank McWhorter: Poet 'wrote for cowboys' in the March 22, 2003 edition of The Dallas Morning News (registration required) quotes Andrea McWhorter: "He wrote for cowboys. He always said, 'I would rather explain something to somebody who doesn't understand than to have to apologize to somebody who does.'" The article says of Larry, "He was a stickler for accuracy and often wrote to preserve cowboy history."
Thanks to Tex Tumbleweed for letting us know about the article.
From Ed Brown:
Larry McWhorter, Cowboy, Too Early
I should have learned to speak Texan
I wouldn't have missed quite so much
Yet my envy is clearly abundant
His humor, his talent, and such
A grin as infectious as measles
A handshake that comes from the heart
A long-distance friend sharing stories
A cowboy, I knew, from the start
Now cowboys are strange, but they're honest
And careful 'bout who they call friends
I know Larry's gone to his Maker
And I know that I'll see him again.
© 2003, Ed Brown
From Tammy McDonald:
Larry was one of those people that I found easy to get close to and easy to maintain a friendship with even though we only saw each other a few times a year. There was a sense of already "knowing" Larry when I met him. That happens so often with the people I have met though the Cowboy Poetry circles. We are all kindred spirits. The ancient Celts had a name for the type of friendship that we have all found in "the Cowboy tribe." They called it Anam Cara which is Gaelic for "Soul Friend."
Anam Cara - Soul Friends
Before we met I knew you
as if from another place or time
Before you spoke I knew your heart
I knew we were of the same kind.
Anam Cara are the simple words
used by the ancient Celts
To describe the one you've known before
the presence that you've felt
It's Anam Cara the Irish say
when two halves become a whole
It's Anam Cara the Irish say
when two friends share one soul.
Before we touched I knew your caress
and I longed once more to feel it
Like a broken heart sent back in time
in search of The One to heal it.
"Hello" I said when we shook hands
overcome by a feeling of Deja Vu
I saw recognition in your eyes
and I understood that you knew me too.
Now with our friendship fresh and new
we've learned our paths soon will part
But eternal friendship can not be lost
when two friends share one heart
It's Anam Cara the Irish say
when two halves become a whole
It's Anam Care the Irish say
when two friends share one soul.
© 2003, Tammy McDonald
From Debra Coppinger Hill:
A Blessing in the Heat
It was 105 degrees that Texas day, and in the asphalt parking lot where we were performing it seemed like 150. But I was glad to be there. I had been invited to perform at a Cowboy Gathering in Weatherford, Texas and I had come there for one reason only...because Larry McWhorter was supposed to be there performing too. I had his tape at home and I was a huge fan of his work. After my set, I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as Andrea. She told me how much she liked my work and that she wanted me to come sit with her in the audience because her husband wanted to meet me and that he had a surprise for me.
We sat down in front of the stage and they introduced Larry McWhorter. I was thrilled that I was going to get to see him in person. His works stands high among the true greats of Cowboy Poetry and I identify with him because he is the "Real Deal," just like the men I grew up among. As I sat there Larry spoke to the audience. He told them that he had enjoyed my poem "Mustangs." I was thrilled! Larry McWhorter was talking about my work! He went on to say how he had worked in the part of Oklahoma I am from and that he had a particular poem about that area, that he was going to do it now and that he was dedicating it to me, the only Oklahoman performing there. He then recited Johnny Clare.
Of all the poems in the world, this is my number one favorite. I have stood at the grave of Johnny Clare. I have heard the stories about him since I was a teenager and a friend's uncle told us about him. While Larry recited, nothing else existed in this world. There was no background noise from the festival, the temperature didn't matter...all there was in the world were the words he spoke of an Oklahoma Cowboy.
Johnny Clare is an example of many a young man who Cowboy'd in the truest sense of the word. He did a job. He did it well. Though he met an untimely end, his life did not go unnoticed. Continental Oil Company put up a monument to a young man who worked for them, but Larry McWhorter's words made him real. The essence of who he was is immortalized in that poem. It is more than a poem about one Cowboy...it is a poem about every Cowboy who ever rode for the Brand. It is a poem about the heart and soul of men who built our country through hard work and sacrifice. It is a poem about one man's basic belief that time may march on, but those everyday Cowboys like Johnny Clare will not be forgotten. The monument stands as a reminder of "where," but Larry McWhorter's words stand as a reminder of "why." His words, a tribute to the spirit of man and a lesson on how to live what you love.
I cried that day. Tears of joy for having shared this moment with Larry and Andrea; for having one of my heroes of Cowboy Poetry recognize me and for his gift of words to me. We have been friends since. I love and respect him and Andrea; because they are good, kind, strong people of the land with deep conviction in their faith and strong relationship with the Savior. They live each day with grace, they give that grace to others and they make all strangers friends. Proud am I that I know them. Lucky am I that I got to go to Weatherford, Texas that day.
I have learned that it's not the trail we ride, but the tracks we leave behind for others to follow that matters. Time may march on, but word and deed live on forever; as does the spirit of any person dedicated to living life to the fullest while serving their fellow man. The impression we leave is our memorial to this earthly life. Building a monument with words and telling the stories about others so they are never forgotten is our memorial
to those we love and admire. Johnny Clare, Larry McWhorter, all those men I grew up with and those I am privileged to call my friends; all living life their way by the Grace of God, all fighting the good fight and marching forward no matter the obstacles, all inspiring us to live life to its fullest. When it comes to great men of heart and spirit the memory never fades and the words of praise are endless. And that, my friends, is the greatest monument of all.
© 2003, Debra Coppinger Hill
From Linda Kirkpatrick:
Tribute to Larry
He has gone away and for now, we must all say goodbye
But we know that he’s there watching from a special place on high.
He will be at all our gatherings, probably bring some angels too
And explain to them our cowboy way and everything we do.
He’ll chuckle when we forget a line and he’ll sing along in song
He will always be there with us as it is right where he belongs.
So, though our trails have parted in a sad and sorrowful way
There will be a glorious roundup another time, another day.
So Larry, keep the gate open. Tell St. Peter we'll soon be there.
Get some jeans for all those angels and a cowboy hat to wear.
Yep, Larry we’ll be comin’ just to share in your new home,
And like you have always said before, “We’ll meet you at the throne”!
From Jim Kitchens:
A sad note today, we lost a good friend and great poet. Larry was a friend to all who wanted or aspired to write cowboy poetry. He would edit for you and advise when asked, but never look down on anyone trying to improve. Larry helped me when I started and I truly needed his help. He will be missed by all who sit by the campfire and recite. Like was said earlier, God must be having a wonderful time listening to one of the best and truest Cowboy Poets.
Love to Andrea, Kimberly and Abi, we are all with you and will miss Larry also.
From Steve Dirksen:
A Man with a Name
They tell me another mans gone on ahead
his time here was cut short too soon
I'm glad I got to know his name
so I can sing him a tune
throughout history both men and women
have lived their lives in usual ways
we never get to know them by name
I'm glad this man was here in our days
cause he made us think of each other
and that things we do really matter
so here's to him and those he left
our world now seems somewhat flatter
© 2003, Steve Dirksen
From Robyn Andersen:
Larry McWhorter's Graduation to Heaven
The Services for Larry Frank McWhorter
There's a value to driving 1300 miles to celebrate a "graduation to heaven." You have time to reflect upon your friend, yourself, and the spacious land cowboys have long called home.
When I got the call that Larry McWhorter passed onto heaven, and that there was to be a celebration of his life near Dallas, Texas on Saturday, March 22, I packed up a bit of gear and headed east from the mountains and sunshine of California to the pouring down rain of mid-Texas. I had to go. Not only was Larry a friend, but part of my family in Christ. Plus, I had a gift that needed to be delivered in time for the service.
Larry Frank McWhorter was born on February 5, 1957 and passed on March 19, 2003. He was only 46 years old. Larry was reared on ranches in the Texas Panhandle. After college, he pursued his dream of working for big ranching outfits and living the pure cowboy life.
At 32, he began to write western poetry and was immediately nationally recognized. He won awards for his book and CD's from the Academy of Western Artists and book organizations such as Westerner International and the Arizona Book Publishers.
In addition to writing and performing his poetry and still working on ranches near his home in Weatherford, Texas, he was a certified lay speaker of the United Methodist Church. He had a passion for the message of Christ and shared his faith with family, friends, and strangers.
Larry had a full life that included his family: his wife Andrea; his children Josh, Kimberly, Amber, and Abigail; and his parents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.
The small Methodist Church, just down the street from the town square, started filling early. Despite the rain, the crowd was soon overflowing into the fellowship hall where a big screen TV had been set up so all could participate.
In the front were many flowers and candles. In the front middle was the wonderful portrait of Larry that Tom Baker of Elko, Nevada drew after the benefit auction there, and it has been traveling to the various gatherings as we raise awareness for the new Cowboy Crisis Fund. That was the gift I had to get there in time.
Cowboy hats sat on laps of most. Honorary pallbearers -- the poets -- sat with jeans and white shirts (no ties, please). There were three rows including Andy Hedges, Mike Querner, Tater Paschal, Chris Isaacs, JW Beeson, and Charles Williams. As the music began, all stood and watched as Larry's family walked in. Andrea wore a bright peach outfit and smiled often at the overwhelming reception of friends and family. She set the tone that this was to be a celebration of Larry's life, that tears and sadness for our missing of Larry were okay, but to recognize Larry's life was lived for Christ, and he
had just gone home.
Rich and Valerie O'Brien (guitar and fiddle) played "Softly and Tenderly." Dr Jim Sanders then read Larry's obituary interjected with a couple of stories and observations. "Judging by the number of people sitting and standing in this church, and the fellowship hall next door, Larry obviously has an enormous number of friends." He continued that he wasn't surprised. "Larry's attitude was constantly positive and selfless. He used to watch the prairie come alive each morning. It was the sweetest sound on earth. Now it's like that in heaven. Larry is there, and he is leading the drive."
Dr. Sander's recalled Larry's "Methodist moment" as he reflected on Larry's wonderful sense of humor and how enormously funny he usually was. "We were walking into church one Sunday from behind the altar. The door opened and we could see the congregation ready for the service to begin. 'Jim,' Larry said, 'I think I'm having a Methodist moment.' 'What's that?' I asked. 'Well, someone else is sittin in MY pew!'"
Fellow poet Dennis Flynn read a wonderful poem titled "Larry." Red Steagall read another, by Larry, called "Waitin' on the Drive." It's the first time I've seen Red without his hat, but it didn't stop his reverence for friend Larry as he recounted their many years of friendship and sharing.
A few years back, Larry had a friend who was suffering from cancer. This friend came to Larry for advice and Larry told him to take it to the throne of God. When Larry went home, he wrote a song about his advice called "I'll Meet You at the Throne." [see the words above]
Sally Harper Bates had read the words at a prayer service at the Elko, Nevada Gathering. Now Jean Prescott sang it beautifully. Dan Roberts, who learned the song only the day before played and sang chorus with her. They sounded like cowboy angels.
Rev. Dudley Hall, a friend, gave the eulogy. His words told of the "real Larry," humorous poet, loving family man, dedicated cowboy, but most of all, the one dedicated to Christ who wanted everyone to know the powerful love of Jesus. "Larry was a theologian that knew how to frame his words. If you were around Larry long enough, you got to know Jesus."
"We wanted him to live very badly and I asked him if we could pray for his healing. He said sure, but it was okay if he graduated to heaven. He wanted all of us to know that we needed to respond to his passing with victory and joy. That we now need to carry that torch he had for Jesus and live our lives for Christ as he tried to do. Judging by the number of people here today, I can see that Larry will be very pleased you're going to carry on his work."
After the benediction, the poets filed passed Andrea and the family, often stopping for a hug or a quick word. As we filed to our cars for the procession to the gravesite, the rain started falling harder. Cowboy hats remained off during a prayer despite the rain. A couple of young men in dress military uniforms were there reminding us of the larger world events going on this day. Young buckaroos stood in the back, shy as they often are, turning away as they shed their tears.
We all returned to the church for lunch, which had been lovingly prepared by the Methodist Church ladies. When I was a child, I lived for the after-church potlucks (especially the dessert table.) I wasn't disappointed. The aroma was as I remembered. This time, however, I was able to see beyond the food to the reason of these gatherings: The friendships and fellowships. Strangers becoming friends. Talking of family and God, and most of all, sharing stories of times we spent with Larry.
Throughout the hall were wonderful reminders of Larry: pictures from his life as a child, of his children and grandchildren; an empty saddle with his hat resting on the horn; boots and chaps, all well worn, leaning beside. Tables were set with crosses and flowers. Napkins were bandanas tied with twine. Except for eating inside, it was as if we were all on the range, sharing a meal after the drive.
Andrea and the family were upbeat and walking around to all that were there. "Wasn't the service wonderful?" she'd say. "It was just what Larry wanted: Talking about God."
Chris Isaacs wrote a poem about Larry and was asked to read it to all. He got through it, but not without a tear or choked throat.
Webster defines Minstrel as a poet and singer of verses that gladden the heart.
In memory of my friend, Larry McWhorter
The Minstrel came into our lives
And brought joy and jubilation
To gladden hearts with rhyme and song
That was his true vocation
His words off times brought laughter
And sometimes they brought tears
As he came and entertained us
Throughout these many years
And we learned to love the singer
As he shared his message sweet
And we found love and friendship
As we listened at his feet
And we hoped he'd stay forever
Just to beguile us with his rhymes
But life demands that all of us
Must obey the march of time
So now the music's silent
In this world no more he'll roam
And though we miss him dearly
The Minstrel has gone home
But his words with us will linger
Just to brighten up each day
And our world is so much sweeter
Because the Minstrel passed our way.
© 2003, Chris Isaacs
At the end of the afternoon, it was still raining, but sunshine reflected in our hearts as we remembered Larry. His legend and stories continue through all of us, adding the spiritual dimension we were reminded of during his "Graduation to Heaven" send off. It was done as we do all things, the Cowboy Way.
© 2003, Robyn Andersen
From Jim R. Anderson, Palo Duro:
We were privileged to have known Larry. We will forever cherish the honor we had to have been around him and to have attended the Cowboy Church service he conducted. Words are always inadequate when some one of Larry's stature leaves the rest of us, and we can only be thankful that he touched our lives. No one can argue that he embodied the definition of a Cowboy, and while he was here, the rest of us were truly in the presence of Greatness, although he would never have admitted it. There will never be another like him, Larry was one of the few truly "Good'uns." We look forward to seeing him again...if we qualify!
From Jay Snider:
The inspiration for this poem came to me on December 7, 2002. I had to put down a little bay stud that we owned for near a dozen years. Cancer had invaded one of his kidneys and the vet gave him little hope. It truly was a sad day for us. I remember telling my wife and sons, "Doc sure was a good one. He's the kind you hate to lose.
That same day, I had been asked to do a poem at an old man's funeral that lived north of where we live. He was as good a cowman as ever came out of our country. After the service, his eldest son said to me, "Dad sure was a good one. He's the kind you hate to lose."
I could not get those words out of my mind. I started this poem that night; however, I could not finish it until Mach 19, 2003 when we received word that Larry McWhorter had passed away. Then it came to me what I had been trying to say all along.
Of Horses and Men
It's been told of good horses lost
In simple words that cowboys use
He dern sure was a good one
He's the kind you hate to lose
He's the kind you could depend on
In the river and the breaks
In rough country and wild cattle
He'd be the one you'd take
His efforts weren't ruled by stature
With him you'd finish what you'd start
His limits were governed only
By the dimension of his heart
His expectations were simple
Merely fairness from a friend
But when he'd feel the need to run
It's best not to fence him in
Pure poetry in motion
As across the plains he'd fly
A tried and true compadre
In a seasoned cowboy's eye
His courage was unmatched by mortal men
From conquistadors to kings
Cowboys sing his praises
At roundups in the spring
Ain't it strange how thoughts of horses lost
Mirror those of men passed on
And though they've gone to glory
Their spirit's never gone
Sometimes simple words seem best
When final words we choose
He dern sure was a good one
He's the kind you hate to lose
© 2003, Jay Snider
So many of Larry's friends showed their generous hearts as they took part in activities devoted to Larry and his family during the Larry's illness. Read about those efforts here and read more about Larry and his poetry here.
With great sadness, we learned of the death of Don Tidwell, January 9, 2003. A native Utahan, Don was known for his wonderful sense of humor and his entertaining poetry. Our hearts go out to all of his friends and family.
Photo courtesy of Mary Sullivan's Tenderbytes.net
Visit the wonderful tributes at Mary Sullivan's Poems Place and read Mary's poem about Don, written on the happy occasion of his 79th birthday, at her site, here. A book of Don's poetry is available in printed form; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
You can read some of Don Tidwell's poetry here at the BAR-D.
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