Once known as the “Mighty Mite” of tie-down ropers, 1956 World Champion Ray Wharton died at his home in Bandera, Texas, Oct. 20, with his wife, Ada, at his side. At 94, Wharton was the oldest living world champion and the second oldest PRCA Gold Card member.
Wharton was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2002, recognizing a career that spanned three decades and was as valued as much for his generosity of spirit as his success in the arena.
In addition to his world championship, Wharton finished among the top five tie-down ropers in the world three more times (1950, 1955, 1957).
In 1956, Wharton’s ultimate dream was realized when he parlayed a win at New York City’s Madison Square Garden Rodeo into a world championship gold buckle. True grit, perseverance in practice, athletic hustle and speed down the rope, along with the determination to win, served as Wharton’s trademarks.
“He won or placed at every major rodeo in the United States, a career roper who was always focused on winning,” his friend Randy Moore told the Bandera County Courier. “He was the definition of the words hustle, try and tenacity.”
Ray was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Harold and David Wharton.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Ada; his brother, Wayne (LaVern); sister-in-law, Mary Linder (Lawrence) and numerous nieces and nephews.
Family visitation will be 4-6 p.m. Oct. 26 and funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at Grimes Funeral Chapels in Bandera. Burial will follow at the Bandera Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be John Teich, Speedy Hutcheson, George Hamilton, George Shaman, Gary Fries, David Wharton Jr., Johnny Boyle and Ray D’Spain.
Honorary Pallbearers will be Carl Prelli, Buddy Groff, Scooter Fries, Joe Davis, Jerry Armstrong and Larry Lindner.
Memorial gifts in his memory may be given to the Frontier Time Museum in Bandera.
Ada wishes to thank River City Hospice and especially Maria Elvira Richardson for their kind and tender care.
Courtesy of PRCA