News & Notes from the Rodeo Trail, Nov. 17

Throughout the month of November, the Wrangler Network is featuring biographies of the top 15 contestants in each rodeo event as part of its “Countdown to the Wrangler NFR” series. The following are the links to each event page that has been posted thus far: bareback riders; steer wrestlers and barrel racers. Also, to honor our service men and women, the Wrangler National Patriot Program created a special Veterans Day tribute, featuring highlights from all five tours on the Wrangler Network. You can watch it here.

Famed saddle maker Howard Council died at his home in Lawton, Okla., Nov. 10 with his wife and daughter at his side. He was 87. Council received numerous awards and recognitions for his 64 years as a saddle maker. He was given the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award in 2011 by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and he was the first recipient of the Lawton Award in Excellence in 2012. He was recognized by his tie-down roping customers with a custom belt buckle in 2010, and he was the recipient of a Living Legend Award buckle in 2014 at the RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in Duncan, Okla. His work as a saddle maker was the subject of the Cameron University Communication Department documentary, “Saddle Up: The Howard Council Saddle.” Council’s work has been enjoyed by 12 world champion tie-down ropers, celebrities and even country music legend George Strait. “You knew you finally made it when you roped good enough to ride a Council saddle,” said Maury Tate, a former tie-down roper and owner of Mo Betta Rodeo who purchased more than 15 saddles from Council. “You say a Council saddle, that’s like saying a Rolls Royce.” Council is survived by his wife of 65 years, Genevieve; daughter, Carol (Joe) Roundtree; three grandchildren and five great grandchildren

The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo Association is searching for a new executive director. “The Reno Rodeo Board of Directors has made a decision to seek a new executive director, effectively immediately,” Reno Rodeo Association President Larry Stacy said in a statement. Stacy will fill the duties of the executive director until a replacement is named. Reached by phone by the Reno Gazette-Journal, Stacy said a search committee has been formed and a nationwide search will be launched to fill the position, which will be changed to a “general manager” position. “We should have the job description on our website ( on Monday or Tuesday,” Stacy said. “We’ve already placed an ad in the ProRodeo Sports News which will come out at the end of November. The ad will refer people to our website.”

“Cowboy Christmas,” a 75-minute documentary film made by Southern Illinois University associate professor H.D. Motyl about the annual Fourth of July rodeo week, has been selected for the Three Rivers Film Festival in Pittsburgh, Pa. In mid-June 2009, Motyl and a crew of three set out from Carbondale, Ill., on a three-week, 2,000-mile-plus filming adventure that took them to 18 rodeos in Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nebraska. To personalize the story of life on the rodeo road, he focused on steer wrestlers Matt Reeves, Darrell Petry, Jule Hazen and Sam Koenig, Reeves’ father-in-law. “I spent about half the time on the road interviewing them in the cab of their trucks and even spent some overnights sleeping in their trailers while the rest of my crew stayed in motels,” Motyl told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

X B Cox Jr., who died Nov. 4, three months short of his 100th birthday, left a legacy not only filled with extraordinary military service to the nation, but also of lifelong dedication to the agriculture industry. Cox earned numerous honors serving in the Army during World War II and had a lasting influence on the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo Association, earning its Golden Spur award in 2006 for his decades of involvement. Kermit Wendland, longtime operations director, worked with Cox at the SASSRA and described Cox as a gentleman and always a professional. In 2006, Cox, who grew up on a farm in the Ben Ficklin area, told the San Angelo Standard-Times he couldn’t recall missing a single San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo since 1949. The rancher filled several roles over the decades since, including serving as SASSRA president in the mid-1960s. “He’s one of those fellows who helped lay a foundation we’re still benefiting from today,” Wendland said

Ray “RB” B. Wilson, a member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, died Oct. 27 at the Flying Horseshoe Ranch in Driftwood, Texas. He was 89. Wilson was a World War II Marine veteran. In 1947, he went to work for the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association as a brand inspector, and he remained with that organization until 1960. He worked for the Department of Agriculture for a few years before returning to the TSCRA as a Special Texas Ranger, until retiring in 1995. He was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2005

The Reno (Nev.) Rodeo Foundation’s 9th annual Denim Drive kicks off this week to collect donations and raise money for neglected children. Last year, nearly 130 businesses participated, and so far this year more than 150 businesses have signed up. “Our goal is to fill the 150 barrels that are out in all the collection locations and to raise $50,000 to $75,000,” Marie Baxter, executive director of the Reno Rodeo Foundation, told KTVN-TV. Donations are brought to Kids Kottage and are distributed to children in protective custody and foster care. The Reno Rodeo Foundation Denim Drive aims to help 1,500 neglected infants, children and teens in 13 Northern Nevada counties. All clothing and cash donations raised in each county stays there. The event runs through Dec. 17

City officials in Vernon, Texas, have declined an offer from Kenneth Dockery, owner of the Santa Rosa Rodeo grounds, to purchase the facility. The city received a letter from Amarillo Realtor Mary Kay Riley in early October informing them that the facility would no longer be available for any functions, either public or private, as long as Dockery owned the facility. This includes the historic PRCA-sanctioned Santa Rosa Rodeo held every year in May. Reasons stated by Riley in the letter for the closing of the facility included the rising costs of maintenance and the owner’s advancing age and declining health. Dockery offered the city a chance to purchase the 95-acre facility for $350,000 according to a report by the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. Vernon City Manager Mitch Grant mailed Riley a letter stating that city officials were “disappointed to receive the news that the Santa Rosa facility is no longer available for the annual rodeo and other functions that take place there, but after discussion and consideration by the City Commission, I regret to inform you that we are unable to purchase the facility at this time. We hope there will be a community effort to purchase the facility and the city will be happy to be involved in that effort.”

South Dakota Democratic lawmakers gathered Nov. 15 and selected Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke as the Senate minority leader. Sutton was the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo co-champion in 2006 and was one of the region’s top saddle bronc riders until his career was ended by injury. Sutton wasn’t the only PRCA member to be elected into the state senate during the Nov. 4 elections. Troy Heinert, a current PRCA pickup man who previously served as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives, also was elected into the South Dakota State Senate on the Democratic ticket. Heinert, from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, served one two-year term in the House before moving to the Senate

The Black Hills (S.D.) Roundup Committee will recognize the top area rodeo competitors who are headed to Las Vegas to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The 2014 NFR Sendoff will be Nov. 22 at the Mulligan at Belle Fourche Country Club. The event is a no-host get-together and celebration for anyone interested in the area’s rodeo tradition and its top professional rodeo competitors. Events open at 6 p.m. with the social hour and dinner; at 7 p.m. are opportunities to collect autographs from the top rodeo competitors.

Courtesy of PRCA