Honored rodeo clown Lecile Harris died in his sleep overnight, leaving a lasting legacy for so many people that have been part of this sport for so many years. He was 83.
I’d met Lecile 25 years ago when he was performing at the Dodge City (Kansas) Roundup Rodeo, and I was working at the newspaper there. I got to know him better a few years later in Pretty Prairie, Kansas. We were in the same group in the rodeo’s golf tournament.
It was the greatest round of golf I’ve ever played, and not because of how well I shot or how well our team did. The group consisted of Lecile, the great Hadley Barrett, my friend Russell and a couple of cowboys that have become dear friends.
Because of all their years working arenas together, Hadley and Lecile kept us in stitches for 18 holes. I laughed so hard that my sides ached for days. Hadley would set him up, and Lecile would just keep rolling. They were a magical team.
It’s a memory I hope to always remember. Until we meet again, rest well, Lecile Harris. You’ve earned it.
Courtesy of twisTEDrodeo.com
PORTRAIT OF A RODEO CLOWN DOCUMENTARY
LECILE HARRIS’ FINAL ACT – DIXIE NATIONAL RODEO FEB 12, 202O
May 9, 2018
One Man’s Wish to Meet Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Clown Lecile Harris
Courtesy Wish of a Lifetime
David “Slick” McMath is no normal Wish of a Lifetime recipient.
Beginning his sophomore year of high school, McMath hopped on the back of a bull and never looked back. He started off bareback riding, moved to bull riding and eventually went full daredevil and started getting drilled by bulls in the infamous role of the barrel man.
Needless to say, McMath broke many bones in his day, but he always bounced back.
ProRodeo Hall of Fame barrel man Lecile Harris, a four-time PRCA Clown of the Year, was one of McMath’s favorite bullfighters and rodeo clowns. Harris, 81, helped grant the wish of the 80-year-old McMath, who had admired Harris from afar.
“I would say he (Harris) is cut from a different cloth, but I don’t think he was cut from cloth at all,” writes Jeremy Garver, Wish manager at Wish of a Lifetime. “Maybe scrap metal or something of that nature.”
McMath has shown strength and resilience in many aspects, including caring for his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and being a two-time cancer survivor.
Although he left the rodeo scene behind when he started his family, there was still a fire in McMath that Wish of a Lifetime wanted to reignite. Deborah, McMath’s daughter, reached out to the organization to tell her dad’s story and submit his wish to meet Harris.
Harris had recently written his autobiography, “This Ain’t My First Rodeo.” The book captivated McMath and brought back many memories of his rodeo days.
It’s unusual that a wish to meet a celebrity gets granted, but McMath and Harris shared an old rodeo buddy named Johnny Clark, who helped get WOL connected with Harris.
On April 27, Wish of a Lifetime brought McMath to meet Harris, along with an appearance from Clark, for a day McMath would remember forever.
As the three rodeo clowns swapped stories of their adventures, you couldn’t help but want to grab your own cowboy hat and get on a bull yourself.
To read more about McMath’s day, go to wishofalifetime.org/wish-stories