COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Robert M. “Buddy” Groff, twice a reserve world champion as a tie-down roper and an inductee in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, died at his home in Hondo, Texas, Jan. 20 at the age of 89.
Groff started his roping career at the age of 14, and after graduating from Hondo High School in 1943, he joined the rodeo circuit despite offers of a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals. He married the love of his life, Bonnie Ulbrich Groff, in 1948 and together they traveled the United States while he competed in match ropings and pro rodeos as a calf roper and steer wrestler.
Throughout his years in the rodeo industry, Groff earned many honors and awards including winning the title of Reserve World Champion tie-down roper in both 1954 and 1956; he also finished among the top six in the world standings in 1953 and 1958.
He was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Temple; the Oregon Rodeo Hall of Fame in St. Paul, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
Groff and traveling partner Ray Wharton (the 1956 tie-down roping world champion) were both honored in 1982 when their names were inscribed on the bronze monument on the Bandera (Texas) County Courthouse lawn, along with Toots Mansfield and Scooter Fries.
He finally retired from the rodeo profession in 1960 when he began ranching. He was a jack of all trades, but the work he enjoyed the most was at both the Hondo and Pearsall Livestock Auctions, which he continued until the last week of his life.
Determined and honest, stubborn and strong, Buddy showed all the traits of a true cowboy and devoted family man. His favorite quote was “I started out rodeoing with a $2,500 horse, $500 trailer, $2,200 car, $2,000 down payment on a house, and a $2 marriage license. The horse, trailer, car and house are gone, but I still have my $2 wife.”
He is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 66 years; son, Mike and daughter-in-law, Brenda Groff; grandson, Robby, and wife, Sarah Groff, granddaughter, Kara, and husband, Trey Mumme, and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral service were held January 22 at the First United Methodist Church in Hondo followed by interment at the Hondo Cemetery, Oakwood Section. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made to the charity of your choice.
Courtesy of PRCA