National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Contact: Shayla Simpson – Director of PR & Museum Events
Phone: (405) 478-2250, Ext. 221
Fax: (405) 478-4714
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2008
The Board of Directors of the Rodeo Historical Society announces inductees into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Recipients of the Tad Lucas and Ben Johnson Memorial Awards also will be honored. Rodeo Weekend at the Museum is scheduled for October 24-26.
Induction into the Rodeo Hall of Fame is one of the top honors that can be bestowed on a rodeo cowboy or performer. Inductees are chosen annually by a vote of the Rodeo Historical Society (RHS) membership. Nine inductees will be recognized at a special ceremony and brunch on Sunday, October 26. The Hall of Fame class of 2008 includes Hadley Barrett, Don Gay, Charles Sampson, George Williams and Marty Wood. Being honored posthumously are: Lane Frost, Chuck Parkison, Claire Belcher Thompson and C.E. “Feek” Tooke.
Hadley Barrett, Kersey, Colorado, has spent the last four decades behind the microphone announcing rodeo events across the country. His accomplishments include selection as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Announcer of the Year four times: 1983, 1985, 1989 and 2002. He announced four National Finals Rodeos (NFR): 1968, 1976, 1979 and 1983; the 1967 National Finals Steer Roping; and is a seven-time announcer for the Canadian National Finals. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1999.
Barrett is most noted for being one of the first to announce on horseback, as well as having an honest approach to accidents and mishaps within the arena. But Barrett doesn’t like to keep his years of experience, knowledge and love of the sport to himself – he cohosts a weekly television show on RFD-TV, and is a mentor and educator to “rookie” announcers.
Lane Frost, Lane, Oklahoma, who accomplished what many saw as the impossible during his short lifetime. Crediting his father, Clyde, and friend, the late Freckles Brown, as his rodeo mentors, Frost earned several youth rodeo championships by the time he had graduated high school in 1982. By 1987, Frost had won his first world championship, as well as the 1986 National Finals Rodeo aggregate title, several circuit championships and many of the RCA’s biggest rodeos.
Frost’s match rides on the famous Red Rock are legendary. He managed to best the bull four times out of seven in 1988. However, after an 85-point ride at the 1989 Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days, Frost’s life tragically ended when he was hit in the back by a bull, its horns causing fatal internal injuries. Frost was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame the following year.
Don Gay, Terrell, Texas, still remains the one to beat almost two decades after his retirement. Between 1974 and 1981, Gay won seven world titles before setting the record for most PRCA world bull riding titles with his eighth win in 1983. Gay’s 97-point ride on Oscar at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1977 still stands as one of the top bull rides in rodeo. In addition to his rodeo records, Gay also was an original inductee into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979.
Raised in a rodeo family – his father Neal co-founded the Mesquite Championship Rodeo – Gay earned his PRCA membership while still a sophomore in high school. Despite his retirement from professional rodeo in 1989, Gay still is seen by millions as a color commentator for televised rodeo programs and events on cable networks FSN Southwest, ESPN and TNN.
Chuck Parkison, North Hollywood, California, started his rodeo career as a bareback rider, bull rider and occasional chute boss. His announcing career began in 1947 at the Los Angeles, California, rodeo when the regular announcer failed to show. He was known as the voice of Cheyenne Frontier Days for 26 years. He announced the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 24 years; Gladewater, Texas, for 36 years; and the National Finals Rodeo six times; 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1981.
As a liaison between the chutes and the grandstand his philosophy was clear, “The most important thing is to make it simple, explain an event and make it interesting. The announcer is the go-between for the action and the audience.” Parkinson was a 1989 ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee. He passed away between performances at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Charles Sampson, Aurora, Colorado, started riding ponies and steers at a stable in Watts, California, where he was introduced to the cowboys who would help guide him to a career in rodeo. Soon Sampson was recognized for his charismatic personality and fearless riding. In 1982, he became the first African American to win a PRCA bull riding world championship. In 1986, fans voted Sampson as the Coors “Cowboy of the Year.”
After 17 years of bull riding, which included several championships, 10 NFR appearances and numerous injuries, Sampson retired at the 1994 Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo. In 1996, he was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Sampson’s positive attitude transformed him into a rodeo role model, leading him to dedicate his life to helping youth and senior citizens.
Claire Belcher Thompson, Mansfield, Massachusetts, was an international star and a dynamic competitor and performer whose career extended from the Golden Age of Rodeo through the pioneer days of what is now the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Despite her grandmother’s attempts to raise her as a “proper young woman,” Thompson became a renowned bronc rider, perfecting her roping and trick riding while she worked for the 101 Wild West Show. Thompson was known as “The San Antonio Flash” and in 1934, she won the ladies’ bronc riding at Tex Austin’s Rodeo in London, England.
In addition to the rodeo competitions, Thompson put on weekend rodeos with Richard Akerman at the Bar C Ranch in Texas, and wrote a column for Hoofs and Horns magazine. After several years away from the rodeo circuit, Thompson returned at age 58, winning the bronc riding title at the San Antonio All Girl Rodeo, undeniably demonstrating her continuous strength, talent and determination to succeed.
C.E. “Feek” Tooke, Ekalaka, Montana, grew up the “real-life” cowboy way in South Dakota. Tooke and his brothers were always interested in rough stock riding and attended any rodeo they could. In the early 1940s, Tooke began producing rodeos and laying the groundwork for his breeding program – “born to buck.” Since its inception, Tooke’s revolutionary breeding program has produced more than 6,000 rodeo broncs. Tooke-bred horses have been recognized as the top bucking stock since the 1940s. Thirteen bucking horses from the “born to buck” program have claimed 23 bucking horse of the year titles.
Tooke’s selective breeding produced such top stallions as General Custer, Timberline and Gray Wolf. Since 1987, many PRCA Bucking Horse of the Year recipients have been genetically linked to Tooke’s program including: Blue Angel, Spring Fling, Commotion, Guilty Cat, Bobby Joe Skoal and Challenger. At the 1968 NFR, Tooke was honored with a special plaque for Sheep Mountain, which he accepted on horseback. Tooke collapsed upon leaving the arena and soon passed away.
George Williams, Scottsdale, Arizona, has been named as a Directors’ Choice Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductee. From saddle bronc rider to Rodeo Sports News cartoonist, Williams has had his hand in almost every aspect of the rodeo industry, transforming the sport into a professional organization. Williams got his start in rodeo as a contestant, purchasing his Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA) card in 1949. He competed in bronc riding events all over the world, winning numerous titles along the way.
Williams soon became a important figure behind the scenes, judging rodeo competitions and serving on the PRCA Board of Directors, including a two-year term as saddle bronc riding director where he made lasting changes to rodeo, including the 25-point scoring system. Over the years, Williams served as editor of various rodeo publications, including The Wild Bunch, the predecessor to The Ketchpen, and also was instrumental in the establishment of the Rodeo Historical Society.
Marty Wood, Pendleton, Oregon, is known for his colorful style, incredible balance and ability to anticipate a horse’s next move – skills developed riding the jumping horses trained by his father. During his career, Wood won three world champion saddle bronc titles in 1958, 1964 and 1966, qualified for the NFR 14 times, was named RCA saddle bronc runner-up four times and won the Canadian saddle bronc championship three times.
Wood is the son of a horse trainer and former bronc rider and his first love was baseball. However, an early shoulder injury put a career in baseball out of reach. At age 20, he turned professional and hit the rodeo trail, competing in saddle bronc riding and winning at every major rodeo in the United States and Canada. Wood was a 1991 ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee and has been inducted into the Calgary Stampede Hall of Fame, Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
To support RHS in its role of helping the National Cowboy Museum preserve the history of rodeo, a benefit auction will be held Saturday evening, October 25, preceding the presentation of the prestigious Ben Johnson and Tad Lucas Memorial Awards.
The Ben Johnson Memorial Award
specifies that a recipient must be living and been involved with the sport of rodeo for many years – usually a lifetime. Perhaps most importantly, it is given to someone who has given back to the community through service or work with young people. The 2008 recipient is Billy Minick of Fort Worth, Texas,
who began his rodeo career as a competitor before becoming a top stock contractor and rodeo producer. Minick purchased the legendary Harry Knight Rodeo Company in 1968 and expanded his rodeo contracts to include production, grand entries, stock and committee negotiations. Since then, he has produced such rodeos as Fort Worth, San Antonio, San Angelo, Houston, Cheyenne, Fort Madison and many others. Minick also devotes much of his time to several rodeo charities, including “Bustin’ Diabetes Rodeo,” which Minick co-founded, as well as serving as a participant and advisor for “Roundup for Autism.”
The Tad Lucas Memorial Award
was established in 1990 to recognize outstanding Western women. The recipient is someone who has been a champion in her chosen field and demonstrated the same creative spirit and zeal for promoting Western values that Tad Lucas demonstrated throughout her life inside and outside the rodeo arena. The 2008 recipient is Shirley Lucas Jauregui of Penn Valley, California,
who became a renowned trick rider and Hollywood stunt rider before concentrating her efforts on supporting the agriculture industry and various youth programs throughout the country. Jauregui epitomizes the Western values that define the integrity and ingenuity of the cowboy lifestyle.
Presenting Sponsor for the 2008 Rodeo Weekend is Langston's Western Wear with additional support from Ariat International. The Rodeo Historical Society of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum encourages annual membership to support its mission. For reservations for Rodeo Weekend can be made online at www.nationalcowboymuseum.org
or by calling (405) 478-2250.
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Editor's Note: For photos related to the Rodeo Hall of Fame inductions and awards, visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org/mediapics. Click on Rodeo Historical Society 2008 Inductees & Directors. After accepting Use Agreement, select photo and follow the instructions at the top of the page.