I am happy I was able to meet this extraordinary man….
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. Howard Choteau Webster was born on January 23, 1925 and his passing last week will be mourned by rodeo fans around the world. I personally met the man who was considered by many to be the greatest steer and calf roper alive when I interviewed him after the publication of his autobiography Shoat in 2003. A few years later I crossed paths with the rodeo legend once again while I was working on another project.
In the book Shoat is described as having an aura of charisma which he did but he was also a genuinely friendly person, easy to meet and visit with.
During the 1940s and 50s Shoat won every major roping competition in the northern hemisphere. After he won the bulldogging, steer roping and calf competitions and then also took the all around title three years in a row at the Pendleton, Oregon Rodeo, famed rodeo announcer Clem McSpadden renamed the event the “Shoat Webster Benefit.”
Shoat was born and raised in northeast Oklahoma, the middle child between two older and two younger sisters. He had a typical childhood growing up on a farm in that era with two notable exceptions. Shoat loved to ride anything: pigs, sheep, baby calves, cows and before long horses. He could also rope anything and everything. Before long the young man became well known for his ability with horses and ropes and that ability led him to travel in the world of professional rodeo. On his first trip to Madison Square Garden he won both the calf roping and the steer wrestling, taking home a saddle along with his prize money. In the late 1940s he and his horses were the stars of any event he participated in. Shoat rode in parades with movie stars and other personalities such as Joel McCrea, Ben Johnson, Casey Tibbs and Jim Shoulders. Later in life baseball great George Brent and dozens of other celebrities would visit Shoat’s ranch in Lenapah to swap stories and hunt quail. Reba McIntyre’s father and fellow World Champion steer roper from 1957 to 1961 called Shoat “the one to beat” and added that Shoat was a man he had the deepest respect for.
Copan, Oklahoma based roper and horse trainer Lon Chaney worked for Shoat in the early 1960s and recalls that he “had more good horses than anyone else in the business.” After retiring from rodeo, Shoat dedicated himself to raising quality horses and bird dogs, gaining additional fame as a breeder and trainer.
Shoat died on Monday, May 20th. For additional information about this fine man you can find his biography in the Bartlesville Public Library.
Along with Shoat’s passing this week came a transition of another type, the graduation of Bartlesville High School’s class of 2013 which included my daughter and traveling partner Loretta Lewis. The list of National Honor Society students is way too long to include here and there were also dozens of kids who graduated with honors. One program that was not mentioned in the commencement festivities is Darla Tresner’s journalism class which has consistently won top statewide awards for the production of the high school newspaper, including recognition for writing, editing and photography. This is a great program which has had an important influence on many of “Miss T’s” students and is one more thing that our high school can be proud of.
Add to that the National Merit finalists and the many other awards garnered by this class and it all adds up to a great bunch of young men and women going out into the world to make their own history. Loretta for one has been accepted into the Photography Program at OSUIT. As for me, look for more coverage of OSU sports in the upcoming years.
A last note from Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque which was held on May 11th. During the evening it was announced that a special fund has been established at Elder Care in honor of Katherine Boren Mullendore to assist folks who need help attending Elder Care’s programs. For more information about supporting this fund please contact Deirdre McArdle, Director of Development, at (918) 336-8500.
Till next week I’ll see ya down the road……