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Meet the Member: Farewell Nell
story by Magie Downare-Nevius
After approximately 15 years of dedicated service to the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) Board of Directors, Nell Richie had decided to step down as the State Secretary in order to pursue personal future plans and goals. “It’s not that anything has changed, it’s just that life is taking a different direction that requires more free time,” she said. “I will not miss the stress that goes along with the job, but I will definitely miss the people and comaraderie of the CPRA.”
When Nell was first hired to the CPRA, the board was trying to move the association forward to the next level of excellence. “We adopted office working hours for the state secretary, we computerized, implemented our own rodeo program, results and standings are calculated and posted in a timely manner, we worked hard on a new entry system (thanks to Entry Solutions) and stuck to the rules in the rule book,” she said. “The Finals, alone, shows how far this association has come. We are one of the only states that have a minimum of $300 per event added money in all of our CPRA first rodeos. I could go on and on. It has been a great job and a great bunch of people to work with. Who could ask for more.”
While Nell will no longer have the responsibility as a self-starting, multitasking office manager resting on her shoulders, the administrative connoisseur will continue to keep her hand in the mix by performing behind the scenes work as needed. “I will help audit the books and manage the secretaries as a backup. Although, I will no longer be answering the phones, I will be available for questions, but I feel that the association is in excellent hands with Tarah Leigh and all should go through her,” Nell said.
Nell’s rodeo history extends far before working with roughly 600 CPRA members annually and working alongside her husband (Bill), a well-known and longtime CPRAFR judge and former bareback rider, and as the grandmother of four. Nell competed throughout her youth around her hometown of Marana, Ariz., located northwest of Tucson in the Sonoran Desert. “At the time, it was more difficult to get into town, which often limited the amount of competition that we got to do. Nonetheless, swimming or riding horses was basically all we had to do growing up and the desert was our playground,” Nell said.
Nell and Bill first met while Bill was attending and rodeoing for the U of Arizona in Tucson. Following their marriage, the couple of 40 years moved to Denver, Colo., and later transferred to Pueblo, where they have remained residents in the area for 35 years. “As a young couple, new to Colorado, the CPRA was the place to go. Bill held a card even before the CPRA changed it’s name and once I was done having babies, I got back into rodeoing,“ Nell said. Although, sticking mostly to barrel racing, Nell and Ruth Beamon also competed in all girl rodeos. “I’d take the kids and travel with Carol Ruggieri and Jeanne Johnson,“ Nell said. “Carol was a trooper with the kids.“ Nell often team roped with Bill at the practice pen in Fowler and Nell says that she has been known to breakaway rope too. “Again, in the practice pen, but as the girls grew and needed horses, I change direction to training and raising kids,” she said.
Their home became the base of raising their three daughters (Jan Draper, Kelly Jackson and Randi Richie) in and around the rodeo world. “All three began competing in the 8-and-under age groups and then moved up through gymkhanas, Little Britches [National Little Britches Rodeo Association] and high school rodeo,” Nell said. “Kelly and Jan even qualified for the AQHA Youth World a couple of times.”
As the lives of their three daughters have taken them down different paths, Nell says that they are still involved in rodeo and are now beginning to get their own kids into it. “I guess it’s just hard to know what to do if you’re not rodeoing,” she said. With that, Nell does not see rodeo becoming a part of her past; rather, is looking forward to the new journey that lies ahead.