Rodeo Historical Society 2019 Inductees
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Rodeo Historical Society to celebrate rodeo legends at annual Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend – Rodeo legends to be honored during prestigious weekend
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Rodeo icons will be recognized at the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s annual Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend, November 8 – 9, 2019, with induction into the renowned Rodeo Hall of Fame. The Ben Johnson Memorial Award and Tad Lucas Memorial Award recipients will also be honored. The celebration will take place at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
The Rodeo Hall of Fame Class of 2019 inductees include Wacey Cathey, Buck LeGrand (1931 – 1997), Gene O. “Buddy” Cockrell, Thomas Joseph “T.J.” Walter (1949 – 2017), Lydia Moore, Frank Shepperson, Rob Smets and Jack Ward, and the Directors’ Choice Award recipient is Dr. Charles “Bud” Townsend. The Tad Lucas Memorial Award recipient is Cindy Rosser, and the Ben Johnson Memorial Award recipient is Doug Clark.
“The National Cowboy Museum and the Rodeo Historical Society are delighted to celebrate rodeo by honoring the incredible men and women who helped make it an American tradition,” said Museum & President and CEO Natalie Shirley. “Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend offers both rodeo enthusiasts and members of the public the opportunity to come together and celebrate a sport that is important to so many individuals — and families — across the country.”
Rodeo Hall of Fame inductions and awards are sponsored and selected by the Rodeo Historical Society, an organization under the auspices of the National Cowboy Museum whose worldwide members share an interest in preserving both rodeo history and the sport itself. Membership supports the Museum’s rodeo programs, including research, an oral history project, acquisition of materials for the American Rodeo Gallery and the distinguished Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend includes the Rope ‘N’ Ride Cocktail Reception Friday, November 8, as well as the Inductee panel discussion and the Champions’ Dinner, Induction Ceremony and Benefit Auction on November 9. For more information, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org/event/rodeo-hall-of-fame-weekend/. Reservations for most events are required in advance and can be purchased online or by calling (405) 478-2250 ext. 218. Package pricing and à la carte options are available.
About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture. Founded in 1955, the Museum collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West. For more information, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org.
Buck LeGrand (1931 – 1997)
Bull Fighter and Rodeo Clown
Buck LeGrand was born September 8, 1931, in Ponca City, Oklahoma. At age 18 he began to rodeo as a bull rider, bareback rider and saddle bronc rider. At one rodeo LeGrand heard a rodeo producer complain about a barrelman and LeGrand offered to take the barrelman’s place. He then became a bullfighter and was known as the cowboy’s bullfighter — one of the toughest men in the rodeo arena. He was selected by the bull riders as the very first NFR bullfighter in 1959, and continued in 1960, 1965, 1967 and 1968. He took the punishment of many bulls to save a bull rider, but never complained. Most major rodeos and many stock contractors sought out LeGrand to work their rodeos. He also entertained audiences with his jokes and animal acts. LeGrand worked the Houston Rodeo 20 times; Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden 10 times each; the Burwell, Nebraska, and Sidney, Iowa, rodeos 17 times each; and the 101 Ranch Rodeo in Ponca City, Oklahoma, 15 times. He was inducted into the AkSarBen Hall of Fame in 1971, and received the Top Hat Award at the NFR in 1985. LeGrand retired from the arena in 1976 and died March 1, 1997.
Thomas Joseph “T.J.” Walter (1949 – 2017)
Bareback and Bull Riding
Thomas Joseph “T.J.” Walter was born February 27, 1949, in Watkins, Iowa. Raised on an Iowa farm with 12 siblings, Walter began riding calves at age 10, bulls at age 13 and bareback horses at age 14. As a high school student, Walter competed in the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA), winning the Iowa High School Rodeo bull riding and bareback championships in 1966 and the NHSRA bareback and All-Around championships in 1967. While attending college in Casper, Wyoming, Walter qualified for the NIRA finals in 1967 and 1968. Following college, he competed in the RCA/PRCA for 15 years, making 12 NFR appearances in bareback riding. In addition to competing in all the major rodeos in the United States and Canada, Walter won the bareback riding at the Presidential Rodeo in Washington, D.C., held in honor of President Ronald Reagan, and he earned a Gold Medal as coach of America’s 1988 Olympic Rodeo Team. A gold card member of the PRCA, Canadian Pro Rodeo Association and the Australian Pro Rodeo Association, Walter served on the PRCA Board of Directors for 11 years and as director of PRCA Rodeo Administration for 14 years. He was inducted into the Iowa High School Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. Walter died January 1, 2017.
Bareback and Bull Riding
Wacey Cathey was born June 29, 1953, in Big Spring, Texas. A bull rider and bareback rider, he participated in the American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA) from 1970 — 1972, winning the bull riding championship in 1972. Cathey joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 1974 and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 1976, winning round 9. He qualified for the NFR a total of 14 times from 1976 — 1991 and was among the top 10 finishers a total of 9 years. He won the Calgary Stampede’s $50,000 payout in 1983 and 1990; was the Texas Circuit Champion in 1982; won the PRCA ProTour in 1985; and was invited to compete at the Summit Presidential Rodeo. In all, he won the bull riding at Cheyenne; the Texas State Fair in Dallas; North Platte, Nebraska; the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and was co-champion at the Greeley, Colorado, Stampede. In 1993 he began competing with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and was inducted into their Ring of Honor. Cathey was inducted into the Pecos Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Bull Riders Hall of Fame and the Howard County, Texas, Hall of Fame. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion & Rodeo for 20 years.
Gene O. “Buddy” Cockrell
Calf Roping, Steer Roping, Steer Wrestling and Team Roping
Gene O. “Buddy” Cockrell was born June 10, 1934, in Pampa, Texas. He learned cowboy skills early in life and entered calf roping, steer roping, team roping and steer wrestling events at various rodeos. Cockrell was the 1953 Texas High School Rodeo All-Around Champion. He also played football, basketball and boxed in the heavyweight Golden Gloves division in high school. This athletic ability helped Cockrell receive a college education – he received a full football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma and played on the 1955 National Championship team. Yet, Cockrell’s true love remained in the rodeo arena; he transferred to Hardin-Simmons University to rodeo in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), where he joined the school’s championship rodeo team and played football. Later, Cockrell joined the New York Jets professional football team. He was the PRCA World Champion Steer Roper based on total earnings for 1977, and he later helped start the Senior Steer Ropers Association in 1984. He was a director for the Top of Texas Rodeo Association for eight years, and ran a 540,000-acre ranch in Australia for seven years. Cockrell remains a “cowboy’s cowboy” who gives back to kids and the underprivileged.
Lydia Moore was born March 31, 1937, in St. Charles, Illinois, to a rodeo/circus family. She received trick-roping lessons from Billy Buschbaum at age 10 and performed at area rodeos. She and her sister, Percyna, were instrumental in establishing the Missouri Girls Rodeo Association. They also won events such as goat tying, barrel racing and pole bending. In 1967 the Moore family moved to Oklahoma and, shortly thereafter, Lydia Moore was hired by legendary rodeo announcer Clem McSpadden as the liaison between the NFR and barrel racers. Later, Moore helped run the NFR’s press room. She served as awards chairman for the Girls Rodeo Association (GRA), securing vehicles, trailers and other donations for barrel racing champions, and became a GRA director at large, bull riding director and Southern Region director. In 1973 she accepted the executive secretary position for the GRA/WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association), a position she held for 22 years. Today Moore lives in Wayne, Oklahoma, with her daughter and son-in-law.
Frank E. Shepperson
Bareback, Bronc and Bull Riding, Steer Wrestling and Calf Roping
Frank Shepperson was born April 7, 1942, in Casper, Wyoming. He began rodeoing in 1957 in the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association and won the All-Around and Champion Team Roper titles. He also wrestled steers and rode saddle broncs. He was the National High School Champion Saddle Bronc Rider in 1960, and was part of the University of Wyoming 1962 NIRA champion men’s rodeo team. He competed in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and bull riding. He was the 1964 NIRA Steer Wrestling Champion. Shepperson joined the RCA in 1964 and competed in all the major rodeos. He qualified for his first NFR in 1970 and was second in the average that year, and again in 1973 and 1975. He won the World Champion Steer Wrestling title in 1975, winning $9,000 more than the reserve champion. Shepperson’s family continues his winning spirit with daughter, Amy, winning the NIRA 2000 Breakaway Roping Championship and son, Les, coming in third at the 2012 PRCA NFR Steer Wrestling. Shepperson and wife, Susan, ranch near Midwest, Wyoming.
Rob Smets was born September 11, 1959, in Palo Alto, California. While attending Salinas, California, High School, he entered every rodeo event except boys cutting. Critical of the bullfighters, he was told to see if he could do it better. Bill Landis, a bullfighter, mentored Smets and in no time he was, in fact, doing it better.
He joined the PRCA in 1978 and became one of the best bullfighters in the business. In time he worked for Harry Vold, Neal Gay, Jim Shoulders, Cotton Rosser and Christensen Brothers, bullfighting at most major rodeos and many others. Smets was chosen to bullfight at the NFR six times (1983, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 2000). He is a nine-time PBR Bullfighting World Champion, and received the nickname the “Kamikazi Kid” because of his daring. Smets received the Wrangler NFR World Bullfighting Championship five times. He is in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Bull Riders Hall of Fame, and received the PBR Heroes & Legends – Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award. An ordained minister, Smets and his wife, Carla, live in Ross Hill, Texas.
Bareback and Bull Riding
Jack Ward Jr. was born May 21, 1948, in Caldwell, Kansas. A bull and bareback rider, he began his career in 1963, competing in junior rodeos through 1966. In 1967 he attended Sul Ross State University, where he competed in the NIRA. That same year he also joined the RCA. He won the NFR bareback title in 1977 and 1978. Winning or placing at all major rodeos during his career, Ward won the All-Around and the bareback riding at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1978; he won Salinas Rodeo bareback riding twice; the San Francisco Rodeo bareback championship; and the Albuquerque bareback title. Ward also won the All-Around at San Angelo, Texas; the 1970 Calgary Stampede bull riding; and the bull riding title at the Tulsa Rodeo. He served on the PRCA Board of Directors as Bareback Director from 1977 — 1979, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. Ward was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1995, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2011. Ward is retired and lives in Weatherford, Texas.
A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for nearly four decades, Doug Clark epitomizes the legacy of Ben Johnson. He’s a fourth-generation PRCA member. A quiet gentleman who is one of the most respected rope horse trainers in the business, Clark has shown many horses to AQHA championships. He has qualified for the National Steer Roping Finals, and won the All-Around Championship at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Like Ben Johnson, Clark spends hours helping children, primarily teaching them roping and life skills. His greatest passion is matching young cowboys and cowgirls with horses that will help them excel in the arena.
Clark has served on the Rodeo Historical Society board of directors. His wife, Linda, is a former barrel racer and daughter Darcy competes in barrel racing, breakaway calf roping and team roping.
Barrel Racing, Rodeo Production, Rodeo Secretary
Cindy Rosser was born in December 1954 to Cotton and Linda Rosser in Yuba City, California. Born into a rodeo family, she grew up horseback, and rodeo has remained her life’s work. As a youth, Rosser received 4-H and junior rodeo awards, then graduated to NHSRA awards. She joined the Girls Rodeo Association (GRA)/WPRA in 1969 and spent 20-plus years on their Board of Directors. She was the California Circuit Barrel Racing Champion in 1982 and served on its Board of Directors for 20-plus years. She became the World All-Around Stock Horse Ladies Roping Champion in 1976. The 1995 Coca-Cola WPRA Woman of the Year honors also went to Rosser.
In 1986 Rosser was named PRCA Secretary of the Year, and she was a 1998 NFR Rodeo Secretary and a 2012 Ram National Finals Rodeo Secretary. In addition to the many secretarial duties she has carried out at various rodeos, Rosser was also involved in rodeo production, including carrying the American flag. She trained numerous horses to jump through paper, stand in a Liberty Bell, a birthday cake, a ring of fire, and more. She also produced and designed openings and sponsor flags at the NFR for 10 years.
Rosser is a member of American Bucking Bull, Inc. and has sat on their Board of Directors for more than 6 years. She lives in Arboga, California.
Dr. Charles “Bud” Townsend
Dr. Charles “Bud” Townsend was born in November 1929 in Nocona, Texas. He began his rodeo announcing career at age 16. For the next 50 years he announced rodeos for Bobby Estes, Homer Todd, Cotton Rosser, Beutler Brothers, Everett Colborn, the Steiners, and Walt Alsbaugh. At Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA) conventions he booked rodeos from Fort Worth, Texas, to Omak, Washington; Greeley, Colorado, to Belle Fourche, South Dakota; Ponca City, Oklahoma, to North Carolina; and into the Deep South.
Townsend received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and became a history professor, spending his summers announcing rodeos. He spent 27 years at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. “I owe a debt to rodeo I can never repay,” he said. “Rodeo taught me how to teach students so they enjoyed learning.” He was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and received an American Cowboy Culture “Lifetime Achievement Award” and an “All-Around Cowboy” Award. He participated for years in the Cowboy Symposium at Lubbock, Texas.
Townsend received the 1975 Wrangler Book Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for his book San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. He also won a Grammy award for his album notes to Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys: For the Last Time.