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On this page:


  Good News

  Ongoing Benefits

  In Our Thoughts   


See a list of the contents for  all pages on Page 1 of News Since the Last Newsletter


In Our Thoughts


  Popular cowboy, poet, and Kansas ranch manager Trey Allen was in Kansas City, undergoing a second round of months'-long treatments that are fighting Multiple Myeloma. He was able to return home in late December, 2014.

Updated 1/5

  Popular western and cowboy singer
Buck Helton has had enormous ups and downs in the last year.

Initial post, June 2014:

With the help of his friend and coach Lori Faith ( he has lost about 130 pounds in the past 14 months. He has been a great inspiration to others and his weight loss, dietary changes, and exercise regimen have had a positive effect on his overall physical and mental health. However, he suffers from some long-term problems that have now interfered with his ability to continue the work he was doing, which include serious diabetic ulcers on his feet.

He has no insurance, although he has applied for and anticipates Medicaid assistance. He is actively seeking employment that will accommodate his doctor's orders of not walking more than 100 feet per hour for at least three months.

A benefit auction was held in July.

This is from Buck, October 2014:

My GoFundMe page is now live and I'm hoping you can help me to help myself by buying a copy (or five!) of my upcoming CD On The Trail To Where I Am (The Best of Buck Helton) which is slated for release in late Sept. Or a CD and an autographed photo print of the CD can even hire me for your own private concert! Of course ANY amount you can donate will help me have a place to live, pay back a deep debt, and get this CD project off the ground. I'm trying very hard to not only get out of this really rough spot I'm in and get healthier by the day so I can have this lifesaving back surgery, but also to earn enough to have living expenses while I'm going through the surgery, and estimated year long recovery. Please help if you can, and share this link with anyone who loves Western Music and Cowboy Poetry...and might be willing to help out one particular Cowboy Singer & Poet Thank you all for anything you feel motivated to do. May God and a good song be ever in your heart.     Buck Helton

Read more on his GoFundMe page:

UPDATE 10/24/14:

From Buck's friend and life coach Lori Faith:

Buck is in the final stretch to his spinal surgery, as he moves toward the cat scan he'll get mid-November to assure he is strong enough for the surgery that is planned for December. They will release his tendons, place shims of cadaver vertebrae and place titanium hardware from T-2 to L-4 in this complicated, high risk surgery that will take 10-12 hours to accomplish. He'll be on his stomach for 3-4 months after that and it will take approximately a year for him to recover. This year has hit him hard financially and he needs help.

A fundraising auction for Buck Helton takes place on the Cowfolks Care Facebook group, October 24-26. Bidding starts October 24 6am Arizona time and goes until October 26 7pm Arizona time. You can request to be added to the Cowfolks Care group.

Find the auction here.

UPDATE 11/22/14:

Buck is now in room 715 at the Casas Adobes Rehabilitation Center at 1919 West Medical Street, by Northwest Hospital in Tucson. 520-297-8311.

Find updates about his situation and challenges on his GoFundMe page:

UPDATE 12/11/14:

From Lori Faith:


I am hosting and managing a benefit Fun(d)raiser for singer/songwriter/cowboy poet/author/WMA member BUCK HELTON. This will be a Christmas blessing  for Buck, for all the singers and poets who help while getting their CDs out to a wider audience and to some incredibly happy music and poetry lovers who will be able to buy CDs for themselves and/or for gifts at DEEP discounts! The basic details are below and if YOU are interested in participating, please EMAIL me at (I will be making a folder for this benefit to better track donators and buyers). Please SHARE this info with anyone you feel would want to be part of such a fun benefit for a man who has been on quite the journey this year. (If you want to know more about Buck, just let me know and I'll send you info). Music lifts the spirit!

PERFORMERS: (Western/Cowboy Singers and Cowboy Poets)  If you  would please send me 50 to 100 CDs (or ANY amount), I will be putting them in packages to sell to benefit Buck. I ask shipping be paid by you to me (address given when you say YES to sending CDs), and IF any CDs are unsold I will pay shipping back to you. For each CD sold, I will get $3 back to you to cover costs (unless you want to donate outright) and Buck will get the remainder as a wonderful Christmas blessing. I am hoping to get as many artists to participate as possible so I can make lots of varied CD packages for the buyers.

MUSIC AND POETRY BUYERS: I'll be making up "grab bags" (Would that be "surprise packs?") of: 3 CDs for $30, 4 CDs for $35 and 5 CDs for $40. Want more than 5 CDs? GREAT!!! Buy another package of 3 to five CDs at the same pricing. What a GREAT deal on cowboy music and poetry right in time for the Christmas season. Shipping will vary from $7 to $15 depending on number of CDs. Of course, if you buy a kaboodle of CDs, shipping might go up a little. (Payment will be able to be made by PayPal or through Square for easy, quick ordering by debit or credit card.)

Once I start getting artists on board, (which needs to be faster than a speeding bullet) I'll be posting the names of those performers. Let's make this a FUN(d)raiser to raise the spirits of Buck Helton!

Find this announcement also here on Facebook.

[photo by Lori Faith,]

Updated 12/11

  Much loved cowboy and poet Georgie Sicking, 92, fell as she was leaving the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in early February, and broke a bone in her back.

While recovering at home, she developed complications from medication and went to the hospital on February 15, for what was hoped to be a short stay. She was at Johnson County Healthcare in Buffalo, Wyoming and finally home on March 20.

She enjoys hearing from friends, and you can write to her at: PO Box 11, Kaycee, Wyoming 82639.

UPDATE 2/2015:  Friends and fans were happy to see her at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, 2015.

Updated 2/10/15

Save.JPG (8545 bytes)  Popular South Dakota Elizabeth Ebert fell while decorating for Christmas, and broke and arm and a leg. An audience favorite, she will be missed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other events where she was scheduled to appear early this year.

You can write to her at:  10930 208th Avenue, Lemmon, SD 57638.

Find some of Elizabeth Ebert's poetry and more about her in our feature here.

[Thanks to Yvonne Hollenbeck for the news]

UPDATE 2/2015:  Friends and fans were happy to see her at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, 2015.

Updated 2/10/15

   Last fall, we posted the information below about popular musician, rancher, and illustrator Meghan Merker. She recently posted this message on her Facebook page:

Sweet friends, I am in deep trouble and my beloved pal Bill Clemmer the Girl Harmonica Player has insisted on reactivating this site to help me regain some sanity and keep me from having to move to a park bench. Please share the link with anyone you know who has a spare nickel. Many of you have been urging me to ask for what I need. I hate like hell to ask for help, but unless I give you the link nobody will know about it. The fact is that I am not doing at all well health-wise, and oh...I want SO MUCH to stay in this dear old world awhile longer.

Find information about Meghan's health and how to help here.

The previous message:

Much-loved illustrator, musician, and Montana rancher Meghan Merker is faced with serious health challenges. From the WePay "Let's Keep Meghan Merker Alive and Fiddling" donation web site, created by her friend Bill:

...Meghan has been out of touch with her beloved old time community because she has a ranch in Montana and many critters to look after (I know first hand after helping with lambing this year). Meghan has been diagnosed with a fast growing cancer and she is struggling to find the money for the treatments she will need. Meghan hates to ask for any help but I know how big hearted and generous the old time and cowboy music community is so I wanted to let you all know that Meghan could really use your support. I admit to having selfish reasons for doing this, I haven't played nearly enough tunes with Meghan!

Meghan Merker was a part of the popular Deseret String Band along with Hal Cannon and others; the band was together 1972-2002. She has been an illustrator for Sing Out! magazine for many years. She's the co-author and illustrator of Roll On, Little Dogies: Songs & Activities for Young Cowpokes and has illustrated a number of books, including Cowgirl Poetry, Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, and Hats & the Cowboys Who Wear Them.

[photo by Charles Espey, 2011]

Updated 6/13/2013

Diana Raven sends news about much-loved singer, songwriter and Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering organizer Liz Masterson:

Dear Friends -

If you're reading this it's because you know, love and have probably enjoyed Liz Masterson, her friendship and her music. We are writing to ask your help for our good friend. Liz has been coordinator of the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering for over 20 years, and she was instrumental in keeping the gathering alive when it was moved from the Arvada Center.

Liz has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and surgery is scheduled for Oct. 2, 2012. If they have a cancellation on Sept. 18 they will move her to that date.

She will be unable to perform and has to cancel gigs during this time, as well as the uncertainty of the future and when she might be able to perform again. Liz also substitute teaches in Jefferson County and is a waitress at the White Fence Farm in Lakewood, she will be unable to do either of these jobs for a while.

If you would like to donate to help Liz cover her medical expenses and monthly bills, you can contribute by using this
link which takes Pay Pal or most credit cards. If you prefer to send a check, make payable to Suzie Solomon and send to POB 332, Idaho Springs, CO 80452. Put ‘for Liz’ in the memo line.

As you know Liz has been known to donate hour upon hour for worthy causes, including volunteering to play benefits for friends in need, she always pitches in and helps when others are going through hard times. Now it's time for us to consider helping her.

Thank you for your support in this time of need.

To stay in touch and see what is happening in her life, go to her
CaringBridge page.

Thank you for your kindness to Liz.


Suzie Solomon
Diana Raven, Co-coordinator
Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Liz prefers mail to phone calls at this time. You can write to her at P.O. Box 12699, Denver, CO 80212.

For Liz's reports post-surgery, visit her CaringBridge page.

Find previous postings and links to earlier postings on the next page.



Never forgotten


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights



  Jerry Schleicher, 1946-2015

With sadness, we learned of the death of Missouri writer and poet Jerry Schleicher on February 16, 2015.

Jerry had been battling bone marrow cancer for several years.

In addition to his poetry, Jerry wrote for a number of magazines, and was actively involved with the Missouri Cowboy Poets and their gathering.

Read some of Jerry Schleicher's poetry here.

Update 2/18 An obituary here adds, "Jerry’s poetry had that special knack for making a point, while making you laugh."

The family will receive friends at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, February 21, 2015 at Meyers Funeral Chapel, 401 Main Street, Parkville, MO. A Memorial Service celebrating Jerry’s life will immediately follow at 2:00 p.m., with Abe Reddekopp officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Memories of Jerry and condolences to the family may be shared at

[photo by Jim Ladesich]

Updated 2/18




  Marybelle Sullivan Land ("Tex Tumbleweed") 1927-2015

We were sad to learn of the passing of Marybelle Sullivan Land, known to us since the earliest days of as "Tex Tumbleweed."

She had commented on writing, "When I first read cowboy poetry, it  was love at first sight. It is not loaded with metaphors and hidden meanings that only the poet knows what the poem is about. What you see is what you get. Also, I treasure our western heritage and feel strongly that it should be promoted. And most of all, I just plain enjoy writing cowboy poetry."

An obituary tells of her life:

Marybelle Sullivan Land was born on September 15, 1927 in Durant, Oklahoma and passed away unexpectedly on February 9, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

She is survived by Leslie Harold Land, her husband of 68 years, and two daughters, Janis Land Osborne and Leslie Karen Land.

Marybelle began writing poetry in her sixties, giving God the glory for her newly found talent. She won several awards, surprising many who had written poetry for years and published chap books, such as
Heartsongs, Along Dusty Trails and A Collage of Poetry. In earlier years she designed floral arrangements, grew African Violets and was an avid collector of antique dolls. She traveled with her husband across the United States, and as far as Canada and Alaska in their motor home.

She was a strong woman of faith, devoted to her family and friends. She lived 87 years of life, sharing with us the gifts of laughter, compassion, wisdom and unconditional love. It is with love, admiration and deeply felt gratitude that she will live in our hearts forever.

The service for Marybelle Land will be held on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 12:30 PM in The Wildwood Chapel at Restland Funeral Home with a visitation one hour prior to service.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Restland Funeral Home and Memorial Park, 13005 Greenville Avenue, at Restland Road, Dallas, TX 75243.

Find some of Marybelle Land's poetry here.

Posted 2/16


  Burt Guenin, 1934-2015

Friends and his son shared the sad news of the passing of rodeo cowboy, buffalo rancher, community leader, and poet Burt Guenin on January 29, 2015. His family shares this poem of his that was read at his funeral:

Night has come, the wind has gone,
The sky has turned to grey.
It looks as if some rain may come
Before another day.
The stock is fed, the gates are closed,
The horses put away.

My chores are done, my tasks complete
I’ll soon be on my way.
Life has been a long, hot road.
Sometimes filled with ruts.
I stumbled some, like everyone
But quickly got back up.

The road’s now clear, the night is cool,
Spring seems in the air.
I’d better go, I hear them now,
Calling from up there.
I’d like to stop just once more,
Go back another mile or so.

But time is short, they're closer now,
There’s not much more to go.
I’ll see you all when you have climbed
Your own long, dusty road.
But take your time, look back awhile
It lightens life’s big load. Burt W. Guenin

An obituary tells of his life:

Burton Walter Guenin was born the second of three children January 6, 1934 to Walter H. and Hazel Marie (Hedlund) Guenin at Julesburg, Colorado. Burt was baptized and confirmed in the Berea Lutheran Church in rural Deuel County, Nebraska. Burt spent his childhood on the family farm in Garden County, Nebraska.

He attended a rural one room school house in District 5 in Garden County graduating from Deuel County High School in Chappell, Nebraska with the class of 1952. In the fall of 1952 he enrolled in Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), Fort Collins, Colorado. He studied animal science and agriculture until 1956 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
He spent 2 years in Garmisch, Germany at a small medical unit which was a branch of the 2nd Field Hospital in Munich, Germany.

As this was a rather peaceful period of the world, Burt traveled extensively over the great ports of Europe. He was discharged in 1958 and returned to college to complete his B.S. Degree and begin another course of study in Agriculture Economics. While attending college, Burt was very active in student affairs and leadership roles, in various organizations and clubs including; President of the AG Council and named Student of the Month in 1956.

In 1964 Burt and Virginia Parker, of Julesburg, were united in marriage in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following an extensive wedding trip through the Southwest they returned to live in Julesburg. In 1967 they moved to Chappell. To this union a son, Matthew Parker Guenin and a daughter, Nina Christine Guenin were born.

In 1971 the family moved to the Guenin farm in Garden County where Burt continued to live. Burt was a 4-H leader for 9 years, served on the board of the Nebraska Stockgrowers; member of Farm Bureau, Elks Lodge #1760 and a member of the Methodist Church in Chappell.

Burt was a cowboy. He looked like a cowboy, dressed like a cowboy and acted like a cowboy. He loved his cattle, horses, grassland and the western way of living. Burt also rode saddle broncs and bulls at various rodeos throughout the area.
Burt and his family received the Garden County Conservation Award in the 1970’s and the Ak-Sar-Ben Pioneer Family Award in 1984 for owning and living on the same land for 100 years or more. The land was first homesteaded by his great uncle, August Guenin in 1880.

Burt raised buffalo for some forty years maintaining a small herd mostly as a hobby. Therefore, Burt became known as Buffalo Burt or just plain Buffalo. Burt also was a very talented writer, poet, and cook. He mostly enjoyed cooking with his buffalo meat and was featured in the Tasted of Home magazine. In his later days, he enjoyed checking daily on the fields and pasture, having morning coffee at Hanson’s , attending Sunday morning church and spending time with his many friends in the community in which he lived for 81 years.

Burt is survived by his son, Matthew Parker Guenin of Lewellen, NE and special friend, Michelle Chrastil of Lincoln, NE; daughter, Nina Guenin Custis and husband, Kevin of Sheridan, WY; grandsons, Kyle and Kolin Custis of Sheridan; sister, Dixie Riley of Chappell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by wife, Virginia “Ginny” in 2005, his parents, Walter and Hazel; and an infant daughter, and a sister, Jacque Anderson.

[thanks also to Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns]

Posted 2/16



  Glenn Ohrlin, 1926-2015

The Western music and poetry world mourns the loss of cowboy and songster Glenn Ohrlin (1926-2015) who died February 9, 2015, just days after returning from performances at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

A National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, Glenn Ohrlin's career is described in a biography there. It tells, "As a boy, he heard and liked cowboy songs, and by the age of five, he was singing himself. 'In Minnesota, where I was born,' Ohrlin said, 'everyone sang cowboy songs, even my aunts and uncles. My father was musical; my mother wasn't, particularly. I used to listen to the radio a lot. When I was growing up in the 1930s, every reasonably big radio station had its own singing cowboy. In those days, it wasn't too hard to find one. If a station wanted a cowboy singer, they'd go out and find a working cowboy who knew a few songs.'" Find the complete biography here.

The National Endowments for the Arts also has a thoughtful announcement of Glenn Ohrlin's death, which includes, "....Ohrlin was known for singing in an unornamented Western style, accompanying himself on the guitar with understated rhythms, sometimes embellishing his introductions with his harmonica. Most of his repertoire stems from the period 1875 to 1925 and includes traditional British ballads carried west, sentimental melodies, journalistic poetry, bawdy songs, hobo ditties, and border Spanish tunes he learned as a working cowboy. He also performed a number of folk songs that he learned while in the Army during World War II, as well as many popular country and western songs. In 1973, the University of Illinois Press published The Hell-Bound Train, a book of Ohrlin's 100 favorite cowboy songs and poems. He also produced an album of the same name that consists of cowboy lore and songs."  Read the entire announcement here.

This outstanding photograph above of Glenn Ohrlin was taken a few weeks ago by photojournalist Jessica Brandi Lifland ( at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. She also shares this photo from the event, which pictures Glenn Ohrlin and Don Edwards:

Find more of her gathering photos at her photo blog, , and see her Cowboy Poetry Project images and gathering archives at

The photograph below shows Glenn Ohrlin with his friend, gifted musician 14-year-old Brigid Reedy, with whom he frequently performed.

photo by John Reedy,

This photograph of Glenn Ohrlin in Japan in 1946 is included in Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns'
Rodeo Roots column:

Rhonda Stearns also shared this anecdote, from her manuscript about rodeo history, which is dedicated, in part, to Glenn Ohrlin:

Rodeo journalist Alice Broberg wrote a column titled “Around Burbank, California” for Hoofs and Horns magazine in the 1940s. While Wag Blesing often provided grist for her mill with his flamboyant silk shirts and wilder ties, he wasn’t the only fancy dresser in the area.

In her October 1948 column Alice wrote: “The loudest shirt you ever saw in your whole rodeo life is on the back of the quietest cowboy in the riverbottom, Glenn Ohrlin, 21 years old, who had his back broken at the 1948 Tucson rodeo. He says he got the material in an upholstery shop, and had it made by a tailor in Oklahoma. He’d rodeoed six years, three years professionally, without an injury. January at Houston Typhoon bucked him off, but he’s ridden Hell to Set three times and is ready to enter again in October. That green and red shirt ought to protect him some.”

Update 2/16: The following obituary includes information about services:

Memorial Service
Mountain View Folklore Society
224 Franklin Avenue
Mountain View, AR 72560
2/16/2015 at 10:00AM

Glenn Leroy Ohrlin
October 26, 1926 - February 9, 2015

Glenn Leroy Ohrlin was born October 26, 1926 in Minneapolis, MN the only child of Bert and Alma Eraker Ohrlin. He was baptized and confirmed at the Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He spent his childhood summers at his grandparent’s farm in northern Minnesota, where he developed his love of horses and of cowboy music. When he was 14, the family moved to California. Two years later he left home to become a working cowboy. His first entry into Professional riding was bronc riding at the Roy Rogers Rodeo, held at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1944. He served in the US Army during WWII, and was on a boat to Japan when the War ended. He served in the Army of the Occupation and was honorably discharged in 1946. After his return to the US, he worked on ranches in the West. He continued rodeoing until he saved up enough money to buy his ranch in Mountain View in the early 1950s, where he hand-built his home from local stone.

After several serious injuries in the rodeo, Glenn set out on a career of singing cowboy songs and doing cowboy poetry. He performed at numerous folk festivals over the years, including Newport, Elko, Sun Valley, Winnipeg and many others across North America. He was also a frequent entertainer at the Mountain View Folk Center.

After years of cowboy work and collecting songs, stories, and poetry, Glenn's book, The Hell Bound Train, was published in 1973. He also produced an album of the same name in 1965. Other records and CDs would follow. In 1985, he was named National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts. One of the high points in Glenn's career was performing (twice) on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.

Glenn is survived by his Aunt, Irene Solie and Uncle, Raymond Eraker, and numerous cousins. He is also survived by an enormous cadre of cowboy poets, singers, song writers and performers from across the United States.

A memorial service will be held at the Folklore Society Center on Monday, February 16th at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Mountain View Folklore Society, the Mountain View Folk Center, or a worthy Organization of your choice. We should all hope to be like Glenn, a man who truly followed his dreams.


UPDATE 3/6 "A tribute to Glenn Ohrlin - funnyman, entertainer, friend," by Rodney Nelson, Farm & Ranch Guide, March 4, 2015



David E. Bourne, 1938-2015

So many friends and fans mourn the loss of Dave "Fess" Bourne, music historian, author, actor, singer, musician, and piano player extraordinaire. The sad news came as a blow to fans and friends, including those in Elko, Nevada at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where Dave always entertained at the Pioneer Saloon. He will be missed by so many.

One friend, Gary Brown, writes, "Professor Dave Bourne crossed over Jordan Friday, January 30th, 2015...cancer. He was a graduate from USC in Music Education and began playing music at Knott's Berry Farm in the late '50s. 'Fess' was part of the Wagonmasters who played there until 1968. He also produced a book on Knott's. Dave was a master at the piano keys and billed as a saloon player. However, he also could sing (help formed the Lobos Rangers) and was in HBOs Deadwood and most recently in Westworld, the TV remake of the '70s movie. Dave played at Elko every year and was so looking forward to going again this year. The Santa Clarita Cowboy Gathering was also a favorite of his. He also was featured at The Magic Castle for many years. No one knew more about music of the 19th century. Dave would accompany silent movies at Mavericks and did a masterful job. His wife Patty in a message said Dave told her, 'My ship has sailed.' Her response,'The piano keys are silent now, but the music will never leave me.' We will miss our dear friend and musical genius."

Find another tribute with more information here,, and visit Dave Bourne's

The photo above taken in Elko last year by popular photographer Anita "Neets" Crane. Find more of her photography, which includes many gathering and performers' photographs at

Friends are planning a celebration of life later this spring.

Update 2/16: P'let Tcherkassky shared this obituary from Dave Bourne's family:

Professor David E. Bourne’s Magnificent Ensemble will assemble in March to play a musical tribute to a very prolific, talented, gentle, musical soul. Magic piano man David E. Bourne passed away on January 30, 2015 at his home surrounded by his loving family.

David was a piano player, band leader, guitarist, singer, author, historian, actor, teacher and horseman who adored his trusty steed, Boston. He participated in mounted shooting and Wild West Shows for many years, turning into a true California cowboy. He was a loving family man who adored his wife, Patty, an artist, sculptor and singer. He cherished his children, Rachel and Jason, both musicians. His little dogs, Lizzie and Peaches held a special spot in his heart. He enjoyed lifelong friendships with many too numerous to mention and played music with them through the decades.

David was born September 20, 1939 to Ted and Jean Bourne in the Santa Maria area. They moved to Anaheim where Ted became the instrumental music instructor for the Anaheim School District. David started piano at age 6. His father also taught him trombone, baritone and string bass. Music filled his high school years.

David attended USC on a full scholarship majoring in Music Education. He was a member of KA fraternity and graduated in 1961 with a Masters Degree in music. During his college years he played piano in the Calico Saloon at Knotts Berry Farm. He continued working at Knotts after graduation playing string bass with the Wagonmasters, the country group who entertained in the Wagon Camp from 1955 to 1968. The Wagonmasters recently received the Pioneer Trails Award from the Western Music Association. His love of Knotts Berry Farm led him to publish the book, “Knotts Berry Farm’s Ghost Town” (A pictorial retrospective 1940-1968).

Shortly after college David was drafted into the Marines. He was the Honor Guard for his platoon and served his time at Los Alamitos where he worked in recruiting but had plenty of time to play music. His life took a wonderful turn when he met Patty. David formed a folk singing group called “The Californians”. A month long gig was on the horizon touring the Southwest. Patty joined the group and at the end of that month both knew their relationship was more than music. They were married in 1964.

1967 found David playing piano at the Hock Shop Bar on Sunset. It became a favorite hangout and musical scene hosted by owner and master banjo player Spencer Quinn. Many of David’s favorite lines were taken from Spencer. While working there David formed the Maple Leaf Club, dedicated to the preservation of classic ragtime piano. Simultaneously he also began his 48 year gig “behind the scenes” at the fabled Magic Castle in Hollywood. He played there until December 2014. David’s gigs were not one-nighters. Almost all lasted decades.

David had many musical irons in the fire. It was not unusual for him to play with three or four bands in a year plus the main gig at the Castle. For many years he led the Resurrection Brass Band, a twenty piece New Orleans marching band. When that disbanded he formed the Dawn of the Century Ragtime Orchestra. The late 60’s and 70’s found him entertaining in downtown L.A. at Casey’s Bar. That lasted 17 years! The 6th and Grand Band evolved from Casey’s. The core players remained with him for the rest of his life. For about ten years he was a regular on the Musicos Rancheros Visitadores ride. He derived much pleasure playing music at the camps in Santa Barbara surrounded by the best horses in the country.

Patty and David considered nature to be “their cathedral”. What better way to enjoy it than “The Musicians Family Campout” in Sycamore Canyon. This “gig” lasted for 10 years during the 1980’s. Every August Patty would organize the 10 to 15 musical families at the campground. Music, singing, good communal food were enjoyed for four days. All were L.A. session players or touring with various recording artists. That drew more musicians from town who jumped out of cars at night with their acoustic instruments to strum and sing around the campfire into the wee hours. These lifelong friends recently celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of David and Patty at their home in Agoura.

From 1989 until 2005 David led his own western singing group, The Lobo Rangers, featuring his wife, Patty. This led to cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the western states where he performed his show “Saloon Piano of the 19th Century. Now fully transformed into a genuine California cowboy, David was the piano player in the Gem Saloon on the HBO hit series “Deadwood”. His saloon piano recordings were used extensively throughout all three seasons of the show. Other acting credits include History channel’s “Wild West Tech”, “The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth” and “The Revenge of Wyatt Earp”.

Added to his busy musical schedule was Marolyn’s parties three times a year, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July and Christmas. This was another decade long gig from 2004 to 2014. This was a way to thank his many fans for coming to hear him since his first days at Shakey’s Pizza in Hollywood.

David is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patty, two children, Rachael and Jason, his two little dogs, Peaches and Lizzie and many, many lifelong friends. The center of his life was family. He was so proud of them and loved them unconditionally. He had no regrets. He lived a very full, fun, fun loving musical life on his terms. Patty said David played music every day at their home in Agoura where half of the living room was a stage with piano, drums, guitar, microphones at the ready for friends to stop by and play. Patty said, “The piano keys are silent now, but the music will never leave me.”

UPDATE 3/6 "Dave Bourne - Saloon Piano - The Bourne Farewell," (video) by Ron Yeo



Robert Chaison, Jr. 1948-2015

We were sad to receive the news of the passing of much-loved rancher and cowboy poet Robert Chaison Jr. of Comanche, Texas, on February 5, 2015.

Robert Chaison was a popular participant at the Texas Cowboy Gathering. Their program book includes these comments, "Robert has a deep interest in cowboy culture and its history that has resulted in a collection of all manner of cowboy trappings, books and art. He especially appreciates the classic poems of Barker, Kiskaddon, Knibbs and O’Malley....Robert and his wife, Mignonne, operate a ranch in West-Central Texas where they raise Brangus cattle and quarter horses..."

An obituary here tells, "Robert loved horses, good books, arrowhead hunting and reciting cowboy poetry."

His name will be added to the poets' memorial at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

This photograph, courtesy of the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, is by Jay B. Sauceda ( It was included in his "All Around Cowboys" project.

From the obituary:

ROSARY: 7:00 P.M. Thursday, February 13, 2015, at Comanche Funeral Home Chapel.

VISITATION: 6:30 P.M. Thursday until time 7:00 P.M.

MEMORIAL MASS: 11:00 A.M. Friday, February 13, 2015, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Brownwood, Texas.

MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Museum of The Big Bend, Box C101, Alpine, Texas 79832; St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1101 Booker Street, Brownwood, Texas 76801, or Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, P.O. Box 1890, Amarillo, Texas 79174-0001.

Posted 2/10




  Paulette Miles Mortensen, 1954-2014

Our condolences to Chris Mortensen and his family, on the loss of his wife of nearly 42 years, Paulette Mortensen.

An obituary here tells:

Paulette Miles Mortensen passed away at home on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, following a long and courageous battle with a rare autoimmune disease. She was born on May 19, 1954, in Logan, Utah. Paulette graduated from Sky View High School where she played flute and percussion in the band before marrying her devoted and loving husband, Chris Mortensen, her partner of nearly 42 years. While raising their three young children, Paulette graduated from the Utah State University/Weber State University nursing program and became a Registered Nurse in 1983. She worked in Labor and Delivery and then in the Operating Room at Logan Regional Hospital for 15 years, later at Intermountain Home Care. She was adored by her patients and remains a legend in the Operating Room for her expertise and quick wit.

Despite her physical beauty, Paulette was a competitive tomboy who could keep up with and oftentimes outdo boys and men. She loved the outdoors, riding horses, water and snow skiing, and was a member of the Beaver Mountain Ski Patrol for 15 years... read more

Chris shared a song he has written for her:

Turning Heads in Heaven

We grew up just a mile apart
But somehow hadn't met
Until we were in high school
And I never will forget
How beautiful she looked that night
When we had our first date
She stole my heart there on the porch
At quarter after eight

A few years later, three young children
Called us mom and dad
We raised them in a loving home
We gave it all we had
The years flew by and now
They're raising children of their own
She left us all with aching hearts
Like we had never known

Sometimes I wake up in the night
And turn to stroke her hair
And pull her just a little closer
Now she isn't there
She had the most amazing smile
I'd ever seen before
A smile I couldn't wait to see
When I came through the door

Now when I turn the TV off
And finally go to bed
I wish that smile was next to me
That always turned my head
I just can't seem to get to sleep
The clock says three eleven
And like she always did down here
She's turning heads in Heaven

A rare and precious candle
I had never done without
And suddenly, out of the blue
A wind gust blew it out
It's hard to keep on going
But when I reflect on it
I have no doubt that in due time
The flame will be re-lit

Now when I turn the TV off
And finally go to bed
I wish that smile was next to me
That always turned my head
I just can't seem to get to sleep
The clock says three eleven
And like she always did down here
She's turning heads in Heaven
Just like she always did down here
She's turning heads in heaven

© 2014, Chris Mortensen
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.




  Don Kennington, 1931-2015

His many friends mourn the passing of cowboy poet, farrier, and all-around nice guy Don Kennington on January 1, 2015.

An obituary here tells that Don was born in 1931 in a two-room cabin Star Valley, Wyoming, the second of six children. He became a farrier shoeing over 33,000 horses in his 37-year career. Don was a popular performer at cowboy poetry gatherings, often accompanied by his wife Arlene and often performing with his brother, Phil.

A January 4, 2015 article here in the Standard Examiner, "Friends honor, remember legendary Utah cowboy poet," quotes his long-time friend, Stan Tixier, "The thing most impressive about Don is he didn't know how much he was well known, well liked, and famous locally. He was a humble kind of guy."

Find some of Don Kennington's poetry here at the BAR-D.

Posted 1/5


  Frank Daniel, 1942-2014

We were sad the learn that Frank Daniel died in December 22, 2014. We learned the news through the Australian Bush Poets Association, where he was president for many years and also edited the magazine. A funeral was held in Canowindra on December 29, 2014.

An obituary here tells, "One of Australia's foremost performance bush poets, Frank toured over a wide area of the three eastern states taking his home-spun bush humor and bush poetry to many schools and clubs ..."

Find some of Frank Daniel's poetry here.

[Thanks to Merv Webster for the obituary link]

Updated 1/5

  Carmel Randle,  1935-2014

With sadness, we learned that Australian bush poet Carmel Randle died July 4, 2014, in Nubeena, Tasmania, Australia. She had been an invited poet at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Virginia Bennett, who shared the news, commented, "... on July 4th, 2014, the lovely and high-spirited Australian bush poet, Carmel Randle, went on to her reward. Carmel (often with her daughter, Zita Horton) gave the world a reason to laugh at itself and inspired so many (often schoolchildren with whom she loved to share her witty bush poetry) to pick up a pencil and write their own verse or two! She came to the ranch we managed near Twisp, Washington back in the '90s and performed her part in our 'Foggy Dew Western Review.' I can remember one so clearly, with cowgirl singer Lauralee Northcott's assistance, that 'brought down the house!' Carmel was one of those amazingly graceful women who will be deeply missed..."

Find an obituary here.

[Thanks to Jerry Brooks for the photo from Carmel Randle's 1997 CD, There and Back.]

Posted 7/15


  Charlie Camden,  1941-2013

With sadness, we learned of the death of much-loved horseman, cowboy poet, singer, and storyteller Charlie Camden on October 19, 2013, after his long battle with cancer. In the early years of, Charlie shared stories and poetry in a feature, Just Beyond the Ridge. He told us about the title, "It used to seem that every morning I would look out and see a distant ridge. After riding all day I would look back, and sometimes that ridge would be many miles too far to see. But no matter how far away those distant valleys would be, they would never be too far to remember."

Charlie was active in many Western organizations and co-hosted the Western Heritage show. He and Kathy Camden founded the Lewiston/ Clarkston Cowboy Poetry, Music, and Western Art Festival.

From information from Kathy Camden, "Charlie Camden is survived by his wife of 48 years, Naomi Katherine Camden, six children, two stepsons, twenty grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Called to serve his country in 1966, he served two years in the USMC, with 14 months in Viet Nam. He moved to Idaho in 1969, where he worked for the BLM and moved to Montana in 1971 where he worked in the woods and at sawmills. He spend more than 30 years there and he lived his dream of traveling on horseback in the mountains he loved. He moved back to Idaho in 1995, where he became a cowboy poet and western singer. His love of God, country, and family was very strong."

Find an additional biography and some of Charlie Camden's words in our feature here.

Find an obituary from the Lewiston Tribune here.

Posted 10/21

    Rusty McCall,  1986-2013

Rusty McCall, a man of courage and fortitude, left this world August 31, 2013. Rusty lived his short life as his entire extraordinary family does, full of love, generosity, and purpose.

From the family:

David Russell McCall was born June 25th, 1986 in Elko, NV. Rusty, as he was known, grew up on the Elko County family ranch, attending a one room school 25 miles away in Currie until 8th grade. In order to attend high school 65 miles away, he boarded in Wells, NV, with family members and the Louise Lear family. He loved ranch life, riding, working cattle, hunting, and trapping. Rusty loved animals, from cats to chickens, and heifers to horses. He learned old cowboy poems and stories on the ranch, many from his granddad. Rusty was the youngest poet to perform at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and went on to perform throughout the West. The cowboy poetry and music community became a second family to him. He was a member of 4-H and FFA. He participated in junior rodeos and on the Wells High School rodeo team, riding in the bareback bronc event. Rusty attended CSI, studying water resource management.

Rusty was diagnosed with a rare disease at age 20, known as NF2. He underwent brain tumor surgeries, chemo and radiation. The disease resulted in deafness, gradually causing many disabilities. Regardless of this, he still kept up a miraculous spirit and sense of humor. He enjoyed touring the ranch to see the cattle, became an avid collector of guns and hunting paraphernalia. He spent many hours conversing with friends and family via computer, and treasured the folks who took the time to communicate with him. He lost his battle on Aug 31, 2013 at home on the ranch, surrounded by family, as was his wish.

Rusty leaves his parents, Deanna Dickinson and David Kendall McCall, paternal grandfather, William Lyndell McCall, sisters Terrill Knight (Jeremy), Katherine Owen (Greg), many aunts and uncles, his beloved nieces and nephews and numerous cousins.

Rusty faced major brain surgery and other procedures, radiation, and treatment for his serious neurofibromatosis condition, spending the last year of his life visiting friends and family, and having visits from them on the McCall's New Mexico ranch.

A popular poet and reciter, Rusty made his first appearance at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at age 3, in 1989. He performed there many times since and at other gatherings, including the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, sometimes along with other the other poets and reciters in his ranching family, including his parents, Dave and Deanna Dickinson McCall, and his sisters Terri Anne Knight and Katie McCall Owen. In recognition of Rusty's indomitable spirit, the 2010 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering was dedicated to Rusty McCall, "...for his courage and perseverance in spite of his medical problems to carry on the oral tradition of the cowboy."

Rusty will be deeply missed by many, many devoted friends and a great extended family.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Timberon Lodge in Timberon, New Mexico, at 1:00 Saturday, September 7, 2013. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help with neurofibromatosis research:  Advocure NF2, PO Box 4118, Clearwater, Florida 33758-4118;

You can write to Deanna and Dave McCall at PO Box 376, Timberon, NM 88350-0376.

Find a memorial page for Rusty McCall with many photos here.

[Top: February, 2009 photograph © Lori Faith Merritt,; Above: 1989 photograph by Kevin Martini-Fuller]

Updated 9/4

  Guy Porter Gillette, 1945-3013

Musician, songwriter, entertainer and rancher Guy Gillette, part of the popular Gillette Brothers duo, died September 2, 2013, after a battle with an aggressive cancer.

A celebration of life will be held on September 10, 2013. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for a donation to be made to his daughter's (Dorcie Gillette) college fund at First National Bank in Huntsville, Texas. More information may be available at

A September 3, 2013 Country Life article, "Western Music Icon Guy Porter Gillette Passes," tells about Guy Gillette's life and career, including early days in New York, his return to his grandfather's ranch in Texas, the opening of the Camp Street Cafe, and the many awards and accolades received by the Gillette Brothers, including:

....they continued to entertain crowds at Camp Street and across the nation, with their own brand of blues, cowboy ballads
and Celtic folk songs. Their shows often included vaudeville and old minstrel show comedy routines that featured the two playing anything from guitars, banjos, harmonicas, tambourines, kazoos and even the bones - which Guy Porter Gillette was fantastic at.

The brothers continued to record as well and were the recipient of the Western Heritage Award for Best Traditional Western CD of 2010 with their Cowboy Minstrel and Medicine Show CD. They also received the Wrangler Award for Best Original Composition of 2012 for Waddie Mitchell's song "Tradeoff." These awards are among their many honors and praise for their preservation of traditional cowboy music.

Find the entire article here.

[2009 photo of Guy and Pipp Gillette by photo by Paulette Tcherkassky, from a gathering report here]

Posted 9/3

  Verl Arthur “Bobe” Stout 1927-2013

Condolences to Cindy Stout Quigley and her family on the death of her father, Verl Arthur "Bobe" Stout on August 8, 2013.

 From his obituary:

Verl Arthur “Bobe” Stout passed away in Redding, California on August 8, 2013 at the age of 85 from complications of an automobile accident.

Bobe is predeceased by his parents Clyde Raymond Stout and Evelyn Elna Stout (Thurman), his brother Clyde Jr., sisters Mabel Ferreira and Elda “Punky” Norton.

Bobe is survived by his wife Adele of 53 years. They were married in Reno, Nevada on August 13, 1960.

Bobe is lovingly remembered by his three daughters, Diana Tucker Stout, Gina Lederer and Cynthia Quigley, his 8 grandchildren, JJ Grimes, Amanda Tucker, Heidi Lederer Sandoval, Erin Quigley Medeiros, Greg Lederer, Brandon Sandford, Todd Quigley and Anna Lederer, his eleven great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Reita Mudd and numerous nieces and nephews.

Bobe was born in Willows, California, September 6, 1927. He served in the Army overseas during the cleanup of France after World War II. He started farming for Maben Ranches in 1966 and worked there until his retirement.

Bobe was a cowboy, he grew up riding horses through the streets of Willows and, hunting the hills west of Stonyford. He always took the horses his dad and Pistol told him not to, just to prove he could. There was always at least one dog following him around. He taught his daughters to ride, hunt and fish. He got great pleasure from visiting with friends at the coffee shop twice a day and he always had candy or gum in his shirt pocket for the kids and the ladies.

A graveside service was held at the Willows Cemetery on August 17, 2013.

[photos courtesy of Cindy Stout Quigley, CMQ Photography]

Posted 8/26

Rusty Calhoun Rusty Calhoun, 1940-2013

Janice Mitich sent the sad news of the death of Rusty Calhoun, who was among the earliest poets with work at Janice writes:

Colorado born and Arizona cowboy poet Rusty Calhoun passed away on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at her home in Queen Creek, Arizona. After fighting brain cancer for over a year, Rusty was called Home. She passed peacefully in the arms of her daughter and surrounded by her dogs. She is survived by her daughter Regina Raichart of Seattle and Queen Creek.

A celebration of Rusty’s life is planned for October 12, 2013 with her family, friends, poets, and western music. Please contact fellow cowboy poet, Janice Mitich, 520-682-8836 or if you wish to participate. Rusty will be happy to see us all having a good time.

Update 8/1

  Frances Wheeler

Peggy Malone sent the sad news of the death of much-loved poet Frances Wheeler, age 95, at the  Family Health Nursing Home in Fruita, Colorado in July, 2013.

At the Museum of Western Colorado, where Ronna Lee and Tom Sharpe host the Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a page here  from 2011 tells:

Frances’ poems capture 75 years of experiences gained while living on the family ranch northeast of Steamboat Springs. Her poetry is filled with humor, wisdom and experience. She now lives in Fruita, Colorado where five generations of her family also live.

Frances is the author of several books including From the Pages of her Heart, Looking Down the Lane, Rocking Chair Rhymes. She has performed at many cowboy poetry gatherings.

Peggy Malone made a recording Frances Wheeler last Christmas and used this photo collage:

See a YouTube video with Frances Wheeler reciting her "Christmas Song."

Peggy Malone wrote a poem for Frances Wheeler (with the last verse by J.P. Gorham). It was included in her gathering report here on the 2012 Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering:

by Peggy Malone (last verse by JP Gorham)

     I came to see her, at the ol' nursing home
A smile crossed her face, as we sat there alone
We shared many stories...some old and some new
Of struggles and sunshine to mention a few.

     I noticed a picture, all yellowed with age
Five kids on a pony...the barn was its stage
She proudly admitted, she had quite a crew
And had nine in all, by the time she was through!

     She told of the night when bright stars shown above
She'd finished her milkin'...and checked on her love
For he had been sick, but the chores couldn't wait
He passed on that night, through God's heavenly gate.

      I sat there and listened like I had not a care
Words paint a picture, and I felt I was there
Her eyes, how they danced, though she barely could see
This time was a treasure, just her and just me.

      But, I had to leave, though I hated to go
"What can I get you? so, just please let me know!"
"Oh, yes," she replied, "I love Louie L'Amour,
Go fetch his CD on the shelf by the floor."

     I popped in his story of days long ago
Her pleasure was showing, she had a new glow
She listened a while...her eyes wanting to close
So I kissed her sweet cheek and said, "Adios."

      I stood in the hallway and thought for a bit
The life she has lived, her heart and her grit
I wiped off a tear, but a smile shone through
I might walk away, but she came with me, too.


[photo at top by Wes Allen, courtesy of the Museum of Western Colorado]

Posted 7/23

  Roy "Boots" Reynolds, 1935-2013

With sadness, we learned of the death of popular cowboy cartoonist and artist Boots Reynolds, who died July 12, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. He was particularly known for his book and magazine illustrations and his designs on Leaning Tree greeting cards. 

See a 2009 KSPS TV video about Boots Reynolds and his art here.

Trish Gannon, the owner and publisher of The River Journal,  writes in an article here, "He was raised by his father on the ranches in the Osage country of Oklahoma and was on, over, under, and around horses all his life."

Boots Reynolds also contributed a column with his reminiscences to The River Journal. See those columns here.

In her article, Trish Gannon comments, "Boots and his family would also like to thank everyone at the Kootenai Cancer Center at Bonner General Hospital for all their kindness, caring and patience during his chemo treatments these last few years. And enough cannot be said about the generous and loving staff of Bonner Community Hospice at Bonner General Hospital. They are incredible people that go the extra mile and “thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough. Memorial donations may be made to: Bonner Community Hospice, 520 N. Third Ave., Sandpoint, ID 83864."

Services are private.

Posted 7/15

  Leon Flick, 1954-2013

With sadness, we learned that popular cowboy and poet Leon Flick died July 10, 2013. He had recently been diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia.

Leon Flick grew up on working ranches and he and his wife Billie worked on ranches near their remote Oregon home. His book of poetry and short stories, A Cow's Tail for a Compass (2000) tells:

Leon started sharing his poetry and stories in 1988 at Elko, Nevada, and has entertained people in 13 Western states. Other than his entertaining, a little guiding and fencing, Leon and Billie still make their living using a cow's tail for a compass."

A cowboy's cowboy, his book carries endorsements from Baxter Black and others and from J.B. Allen, Larry McWhorter, and Joel Nelson, all respected cowboys and poets.

See a great 7-minute video with Leon and Billie Flick from Oregon Public Broadcasting (2003) here:

John Dofflemyer has a moving poem, "News from Oregon," in memory of Leon Flick and Alice Hancock at his blog here.

Find some of Leon Flick's poetry at

Leon Flick had been invited to perform at the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2014.

Find an obituary here.

See a July 14, 2013 article here by Lee Juillerat in the
Herald and News. The article is accompanied by this announcement:

A Celebration of Life service for Leon Flick will be 6 p.m. Monday [July 15] at the Lake County Fairgrounds Sale Barn with a potluck dinner in the fairgrounds exhibit building following the service. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lakeview Disaster Unit/Gurney Fund, P.O. Box 1007, Lakeview, OR 97630 or Lakeview Hospice and Home Health, 700 S. J St., Lakeview, OR 97630 or a charity of the donor's choice.

[photo by Jeri L. Dobrowsk]

Updated 7/15

Alice Hancock, 1933-2013

With sadness, we learned of the death of Alice Hancock in an automobile accident on June 28, 2013 in Lakeview, Oregon.

Her bright and lively presence made her a friend to all who knew her. A working ranch woman, she was also known for her humorous recitations of poems such as "Rindercella," and her knowledge of classic cowboy poetry. She was the wife of the late cowboy and poet Sunny Hancock.

Sunny Hancock wrote "Ode to My Lady, My Wife," for Alice Hancock.

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.

Read the entire poem here.

Find an obituary here, that tells:

....At the time of her marriage to Sunny Hancock in Ashland on May 3, 1958, she was working as a telephone operator. She had a good long career as a cook, beginning in a restaurant and then for many years on the ZX Ranch in Paisley. After she and Sunny purchased their ranch on the Westside in 1978, she finished her career as a cook at the Westside Union School. Sharing her cooking skills with her daughter created many special times for her.....

Alice is survived by son and daughter-in-law Jake and Rhonda Hancock of Lakeview; daughter and son-in-law Vicki and Randy Huck of Paisley; brother Lee Johnson of Oregon City; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at the Lakeview Eagle's Lodge on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 4 p.m.. A potluck dinner will be served in the Lodge following the service.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Lakeview Disaster Unit, P.O. Box 1007, Lakeview 97630 or to a charity of the donor's choice.

Desert Rose Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

These photos are from Horse Tracks Through the Sage by Sunny Hancock and Jesse Smith, and posted with the permission of the publisher, Cowboy Miner Productions:

There is a news article about the accident here.

John Dofflemyer has a moving poem, "News from Oregon," in memory of Leon Flick and Alice Hancock at his blog here.

Updated 7/12

Montie Montana, Jr. , 1935-2013

We were sad to learn of the death of popular cowboy showman Montie Montana, Jr. on June 12, 2013.

An article here in the Porterville Recorder tells, "Mr. Montana followed in his famous father’s—Montie Montana—footsteps as a showman, performer and entertainer. He had lived in Springville the past 24 years and was a figurehead for the annual Springville Sierra Rodeo. He performed at his first rodeo at the age of 3."

Montie Montana, Jr. performed at many cowboy events, including the Salinas, California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find much more in the Recorder article here.

Posted 6/18

  Bill Owen, 1942-2013

With great sadness, we learned that premier Western artist Bill Owen died Saturday, June 15, 2013. Bruce Green, President of the Cowboy Artists of America (, of which Bill Owen was the Director, released a statement to its members:

....all who love our West and the art that captures it have suffered a great and terrible loss today. Our brother Bill Owen passed away while on the Diamond A's Ranch. He was, of course, out there preparing to do more of the wonderful work that we all have so deeply admired. I don't doubt that he was there searching for that most special work to include in our next exhibition. He was simply the best. He set the bar at the highest level and pressed us to reach that high....

The son of a cowboy, Bill Owen was a self-taught artist. He received many honors and awards, and his work frequently has appeared on magazine covers, most notably Western Horseman, where his art has appeared over times.

We were honored to feature Bill Owen's painting, "Born to This Land," as the official poster for the ninth annual Cowboy Poetry Week in 2010 and as a special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur. The painting was inspired by his good friend Red Steagall's poem, "Born to This Land."

Valerie Owen provided information about services:

In memory of Bill Owen, Cowboy Artist
Saturday, June 29, 2013, 11:00 AM
Lifepointe Church
10100 E State Route 69
Prescott Valley, AZ

In lieu of flowers I ask that donations be made to the scholarship organization founded by Bill to help young people of the Arizona ranching community further their educations after graduating high school:

The Arizona Cowpuncher's Scholarship Organization, Inc.
c/o George Vensel, Treasurer
PO Box 55
Patagonia, AZ 85624

Find a moving obituary here.

Find more about Bill Owen in our feature here; visit; and find many interesting posts on Bill Owen's Facebook page.

[Image © 2008 Bill Owen]

Updated 6/24

Charlie Colombe, 1938-2013

Yvonne Hollenbeck sent the news of the June 9, 2013 passing of Charlie Columbe, "a rancher, a rodeo cowboy, a businessman, and at one time president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe."  He was the Keynote Speaker at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1995.

He died as a result of an ATV accident on his ranch.

An obituary here tells that:

He is survived by his wife, Vi Colombe, Mission. Two sons, Wes Colombe and Ty Colombe of Mission; two daughters: Sid Colombe of Fairland, OK and Codi Colombe of Lyndale, TX. Four brothers; Robert "Bob" Colombe of Dallas, TX; Richard "Skinny" Colombe, Wayne "Red" Colombe and Jim Colombe all of Mission. Three sisters: Elaine Jones, Los Lunas, NM; Patty Mench, Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Barb Bordeaux, Mission. 9 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

A team and wagon funeral procession began at 4:00 PM, Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at Rooks Funeral Chapel, and continued to Antelope for an all-night wake service. A Celebration of Life Service was held Thursday, June 13.

 Donna Alonzo Vaughan, 1960-2013

With sadness, we learned of the death of Donna Vaughan, known to many as the popular organizer of the California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering. She had many distinguished accomplishments and was the popular Superintendent of the Salinas City Elementary School District.

An obituary here comments:

She was a brilliant leader whose impact will be remembered by all who were privileged to work with her. Her legacy as an active community member, leader, teacher, counselor, friend will live on in the memories of all whose lives were touched by Donna....

A public Visitation will be held Sunday, June 9, 2013 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Soledad Mission (Fort Romie Road), Soledad.

Rosary service is scheduled for Monday, June 10, 2013 at 7:00 p.m., at Our Lady of Solitude Church (Main Street), Soledad.

Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at Our Lady of Solitude Church, (Main Street), Soledad.

There are many area newspaper articles, including one here in The Californian and another here from the Monterey County Weekly.

[image from a 2008 photo by Janice Gilbertson, who sent the news]

Posted 6/6

   Will Stearns, died March 26, 2013

With much sadness, we learned of the death of third-generation Wyoming horseman, cowboy and storyteller Will Stearns. He died Tuesday, March 26, 2013, after a long hospital stay.

Will was the South Dakota State Champion All Around Cowboy, Saddle Bronc Rider, and Bulldogger in 1958; won the Saddle Bronc Riding Average at the Old Timer’s National Finals in Amarillo, Texas, in 1985; qualified for the Senior Pro National Finals in Reno, and won the Bronc Riding Average there again in 1994 at the age of 54; was the 50+ NSPRA World Champion Bronc Rider in 1995, and the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association 50+ Bronc Riding Champion that same year; made the high-marked saddle bronc ride of the entire 1995 NSPRA Finals (all ages), in the last go-‘round; made the high-point ride of the entire NSPRA ’95 year at East Helena; and, repeated the Canadian championship in 1996, at the age of 56 and was runner-up to the NSPRA World Champion Bronc Rider that year. Find more about Will at

National Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree, poet, writer, and rodeo historian Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns was married to Will. Their friend, columnist and cartoonist Jan Swan Wood wrote, via Rhonda, that "...Our cowboy has ridden home to be with his Lord and Savior. Will went home at 4:10 this morning, with his beloved wife, brother Joe and treasured children Shelly and Cody at his bedside. Also joining them at his bedside were Bob the dog and cats Alice and Bart. The peace and acceptance of this next phase of his journey was a balm to the spirit of those with him and an assurance that all is well." Bob has his own fame as a yodeling dog.

There will be a celebration of life for Will Stearns on Saturday, March 30, in Newcastle. It "...begins with food and fellowship at noon at Weston County Senior Services in Newcastle, at 627 Pine St (turn north at Decker’s Food Center). The service will begin at 1:30 pm in the same venue. Interment will follow at the old Fort Lee Cemetery near Black Thunder Creek, south of Highway 450 on Bruce Road (used to be the Clareton Road)."

You can write to Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns at: 1159  Hwy 450, Newcastle, WY 82701 or email her.

William A. “Bill” Stearns crossed the Great Divide from his home range in Northeastern Wyoming on Passover, March 26th 2013just two weeks short of his 73rd birthday.

Following the tradition of his parents Billy and Evelyn (Dailey) Stearns, the 3rd-generation Wyoming cowboy grew up on a horse, making pony tracks over a 75-100-mile circle where the Stearns family had holdings at the edge of the Black Hills near the Wyoming/South Dakota border.

Working as an outside cowboy across more than six decades in the livestock industry, Bill rode hundreds of horses thousands of miles in several states, earning a reputation as one of the best in handling cattle, horses and country.

He played polo in the US and Canada, trained polo ponies and trained race horses. In recent years he did a lot of day-work across Wyoming’s Thunder Basin Grasslands.

Bill was South Dakota State Champion All Around Cowboy, Saddle Bronc Rider, and Bulldogger in 1958, and competed at the National High School Rodeo in Sulphur, Louisiana; later doing some college rodeoing from SDSU in Brookings and Sheridan Junior College in WY.

A 60’s bronc riding champion in the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association, Bill rode PRCA on a permit, won the Kansas State Rodeo Association Bronc Riding Finals in 1983 and competed in the NARC Finals in Texas.
At the Old Timer’s National Finals in Amarillo, Texas, in 1985 Bill won the Saddle Bronc Riding Average, repeating the feat in 1994. He was the 50+ NSPRA World Champion Bronc Rider in 1995 and the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association 50+ Bronc Riding Champion that same year; repeating the Canadian championship in 1996 as well as Runner-Up to the NSPRA World Champion Bronc Rider that year.

Bill’s true passion was helping young men acquire prowess in saddle bronc riding, and he was always willing to teach, with the help of his souped-up bucking machine. A memorial in his name will provide Rodeo School Scholarships to deserving Wyoming and South Dakota High School Rodeo participants.

Bill’s wife Rhonda, daughter and son-in-law Shelly Stearns and Brian Anderson, son and daughter-in-law Cody and Rachel Stearns, grandchildren Mackenzie, Andrew, Liam and Ava Stearns, brother Joe (Kate) Stearns and sister Carol Mc Inerney are left to mourn his passing. His Celebration of Life starts at noon Saturday, March 30th at Weston County Senior Services in Newcastle, Wyoming.

Worden Funeral Directors of Newcastle are in charge of arrangements.

Updated 3/29

  Howard Norskog, 1933-2013

We were saddened to receive news (via Smoke Wade) of the death of popular Idaho poet and songwriter Howard Norskog, on January 18, 2013.

Howard Norskog's Lost River Tales book tells:

Howard Norskog was born in Gebo, Wyoming in 1933.  He was raised in Cody, Wyoming.  He served in the Korean War at age sixteen, made the rodeo circuits as a bull rider for eleven years, raced motorcycles for twelve years, and coached amateur boxing most of his life.

Howard started writing Cowboy Poetry in 1948, and Christian Cowboy Poetry in 1994.

Howard has ballads in these books as well as others. Cowboy Poetry, a Gathering, Cowboy Poets of Idaho, and New Cowboy Poets, A Gathering.  He has been featured several times in Elko, Nevada, representing both Wyoming and Idaho.  He has been on radio coast-to-coast and featured in newspapers, magazines, and TV both in the United States and Canada. He has published four books and made four recordings.

His research into frontier lore and legend is the basis for his unique blend of history and fiction.

He was the recipient of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Silver Quill Award in 1997 and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999.

Find more in our feature here.

Howard Norskog's friend Dave Wahl shared this poem:

an Encomium for Howard Norskog

Many folks can tell a story.
Very few can make it rhyme.
And yet, my friend, You did it all,
You were with us, for a time.

You told of rugged ranch-life,
And the hardiness it takes,
How the canyon country beckons,
Out on the Salmon River Breaks.

Your words have painted pictures,
I recall them now as then,
I remember things that never happened,
I recall places I've not been.

Memories of hard, but good times
Still light my mind inside.
I'm so thankful that you passed my way:
It has been a wondrous ride.

D. Wahl
January 20, 2013

Updated 1/28  

  George Gund III, 1937-3013

Philanthropist George Gund III died June 15, 2013. Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center, home of the National
Cowboy Poetry Gathering, has a blog entry that honors George Gund's memory, here.

The longest serving board member of the Western Folklife Center, George Gund bought the Pioneer Hotel, now the home of the Western
Folklife Center, on the organization's behalf. Hal Cannon writes, "In recognition of all he did to create a home for the organization, we named the G Three Bar Theater after his brand." He goes on the give a warm look at an exceptional man.

George Gund was also the chairman of the San Francisco Film Society and former co-owner of the San Jose Sharks. An article
here in the
San Francisco Chronicle tells, "Mr. Gund was a board member of the Cleveland Film Festival, a founder of the Cleveland Cinematheque, a trustee of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and a trustee of the Sundance Institute. He served on other boards, including the National Museum of the American Indian, the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, the Musical Arts Foundation (Cleveland Orchestra) and the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev. He was also a member of the Sierra Club National Advisory Board.

Posted 1/18

  Joseph H. Dobrowski 1906-2013
photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Joseph H. Dobrowski, father of Rob Dobrowski and father-in-law of Jeri Dobrowski, died Jan. 7, 2013, at 106 years, 11 months, and 7 days. Joe was recognized by the Montana Council on Aging as the oldest living resident in the state, a distinction that delighted him.

Joe will be buried at St. Philips, Montana, laid to rest amongst his parents, brothers, wife, infant son, aunts, and uncles. The rural cemetery is in close proximity to the Custer Trail, the route General George Custer and his men rode on their way from Fort Lincoln to Little Bighorn.

Rob and Jeri make their home on the Wibaux County, Montana home place that Joe purchased as a bachelor in 1928. He and his wife, Teresa, were married for 76 years. She preceded him in death in 2010.

This photo is of three generations of Dobrowski's: Jennifer Dobrowski Rogers, her grandfather Joe Dobrowski, and her father Rob Dobrowski. The picture was taken in 2006 when Joe Dobrowski was 100, Rob Dobrowski was 50, and Jennifer Dobrowski Rogers was 25.

photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Find an extended obituary about his remarkable life here. Jeri Dobrowski has an album of photos at her site, here.

[photos courtesy of Jeri Dobrowski; photo at top of Joe Dobrowski at age 105]

Updated 1/14


 Janice Coggin 1937-2013

With sadness, we learned of the death of Janice Coggin, on January 9, 2013.

Janice and her husband Mason published some of the first collections of classic cowboy poetry through their Cowboy Miner Productions.

After her husband's death, Janice Coggin added contemporary writers to their list. Among the writers that Cowboy Miner published are classic poets Badger Clark, Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, and D.J. O'Malley; and contemporary poets Chris Isaacs, the late Larry McWhorter, the late Sunny Hancock, Linda Kirkpatrick,  Dee Strickland Johnson, Jane Morton, DW Groethe, Michael Whitaker, and others. Janice Coggin was known for helping poets afford publication, often extending generous arrangements to them.

Chris Isaacs comments, "We lost a good friend of cowboy poetry with the passing of Janice Coggin of Cowboy Miner Publishing. She helped a lot of us get our work in front of the public and will be missed."

Jane Morton adds, "I would like to acknowledge Janice Coggin's contribution to cowboy and western poetry. She was a pioneer in her field. Through the books she published, she has preserved and promoted classic and contemporary poems. Without Janice those poems would probably be lying around stored in an old notebook or yellowing in stacks of old newspapers or magazines. Her books will help preserve the western lifestyle and culture for future generations."

Updated 1/11

  Paul and Shannan Harris family

With the deepest sadness, we learned of the tragic deaths of Paul Harris's father, David Harris, and the death of the youngest daughter of Paul and Shannan Harris, Maci Harris, age 10, in an automobile accident on January 1, 2013. A two-month-old boy in another car was also killed in the accident. 

There are news accounts, including those here,  here  and here.

Paul, his mother, and son Caleb, 10, were hospitalized. All are expected to recover from their injuries. Caleb suffered a broken left femur, a broken right heel, and facial fractures. Paul had fractured ribs and a bruised lung.

Paul and Caleb were released from the hospital on January 4. Caleb was scheduled for additional facial surgery on January 7.

Find a Facebook page about Caleb and his recovery here.

David Harris was the much-loved Senior Pastor of the Oak Park Baptist Church of Little Rock Arkansas for over 35 years. The memorial service for David Harris and Maci Harris will be held at 1:00 PM Wednesday, January 9th, at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church located at 12400 Interstate 30, Little Rock, AR 72210. Arrangements will be handled by Dial & Dudley Funeral Home located in Bryant, Arkansas.

There is a "helping hands" site for the family here, which includes information about how you can hellp with the family's medical costs.

[Thank you to Linda Kirkpatrick for the first news.]

Updated 1/7

   Rod McQueary, 1951-2012

The cowboy poetry world mourns the loss of poet, rancher, and Marine veteran Rod McQueary, who died December 29, 2012.

Known for his thoughtful and deeply moving poems that came from his Vietnam war experience as well as for his often humorous pieces, Rod McQueary was a part of the cowboy poetry community from its earliest days.
He is the author of Blood Trails, with Bill Jones. His work is in many anthologies, including New Cowboy Poetry:  A Contemporary Gathering, Cooling Down, Buckaroo, Visions and Voices of the American Cowboy, Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass, Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century, Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West, and Maverick Western Verse. Some of his most interesting work appears in Dry Crik Review, a periodical edited by John Dofflemyer. 
He wrote the 1995 Whole Cowboy Catalog with his wife, Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis.

From Sue Wallis, via Facebook:

Beloved husband of Sue Wallis; treasured father of Porter, Cecile, Ian, and Justine McQueary, stepfather of Isaac Wallis, Megan Kruse, and Rys Martin; Boppa of Ezra, Cora, and Maddox Kruse; son of Eloise, and brother of Lyle and Neil McQueary; who has touched the lives of so many, many family, friends, compadres, and like-minded souls who appreciated his articulate wit…has followed his father Howard over that Last Great Divide. He was the epitome of kind.

A memorial service will be held at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada at 2 pm on Wednesday, January 2nd. Instead of flowers, please send generous contributions to the Western Folklife Center for the support of the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the center of the art and the culture that Rod defined his life by, and the gathering place of his far flung friends. 501 Railroad Street, Elko, Nevada, 89801.

If you can make it to Elko on Wednesday, please come ready to share stories, songs, poems, and especially jokes. After a short service in the G Bar Three, we will have a potluck dinner in the Pioneer Saloon, please bring something to share. Rod’s daughter Ceci is putting together pictures and videos…if you have images of Rod that we can include please send them to, or share them with her on Facebook.

Family and friends will gather again on the full moon of July in Ruby Valley to scatter his ashes over the mountains and ranches that he rode for the majority of his life.

Please feel free to forward, share, and post, call each other and hold each other close…he loved you all so much.

Read rancher and poet John Dofflemyer's poem to Rod McQueary, "Laughing at the Sun,"
here in Dry Crik Journal.

Find more about Rod McQueary and some of his poetry in our feature here.

[photo courtesy of Sue Wallis via Facebook]

Posted and updated 12/30 



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