Relive the Old West Legend of Dodge City Through Exhibits, Education and Entertainment.

Pete & “Boots” Tucker 2017 Rodeo Cowboy Couple

“Are you going to wait until she is grown up and can name herself.” Boots’ grandfather Hicks when her father didn’t want to name her “Lillian Elease.”

W.E. “Pete” Tucker was born in Wilburton, Kansas on March 18, 1917 to Charles and Tracey Tucker. Lillian “Elease” or “Boots” Tucker was born to William F. Hicks and Edna May Johnson Hicks in Sparta, Tennessee on April 1, 1918. Due to some dispute as to what to name her, she wasn’t named until she was six months and her father simply called her “Boots” a name which stuck well into adulthood. When she was two years old, her family homesteaded four miles west of Elkhart, Kansas. Though she had to work the fields with her father daily, she was an active horse rider who rode everyday just to enjoy life. Boots, who was very active in team sports, graduated from Elkhart High School where she met Pete Tucker during her junior year. They married in 1938. Pete’s parents had died so the couple moved to McCune in Crawford County Kansas to care for Pete’s siblings. They then lived for four years in Mulberry, also in Crawford County on the Missouri border. Here Pete hauled coal and Boots operated a small gas station. Afterwards they returned to Elkhart to assist Boot’s parents with the family farm. Boot’s rodeo career began in 1947 when the local Lions Club sponsored a rodeo. On a borrowed palomino she entered the Western Pleasure class, which she won. At that same event Boots was crowned runner-up for Frontier Blonde Rodeo Queen. In 1949, the Tuckers started showing horses and doing amateur rodeo. Soon the couple advanced to professional status. Pete became World Champion calf roper. After Boot’s father died in 1959, they continued work the farm. Though his full-time farming limited his rodeo performances to a five State area, in one season in the late 1950’s, Pete placed in 27 rodeos. In his career he set an RCA world record in calf roping of 9.3 seconds in Rocky Ford, Colorado. In 1957, Boots set a record in a barrel race in Memphis of 15.5 seconds. In 1961, Boots won the World Champion Barrel Racing title on her favorite horse “Brownie.” She was in the top 25 in women’s rodeo events for 25 years. Her contests included Goat Tying, Barrel Racing and Bronc Riding. She won a belt buckle in 1962 at the National Finals Rodeo in Santa Maria, California. Pete died on February 15, 1963. Boots continued to rodeo for a couple more years, but without Pete her heart was not in it. She currently resides at Morton County Senior Living Community in Elkhart.

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Margie Roberts Hart, 2016 Rodeo Cowgirl

 

hart-2Marjorie “Margie” Roberts was born to Emmett C. and Clara M. Roberts on July 3, 1916 near Council Grove, Kansas into the famous Roberts rodeo family which started the Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City in 1937. She was first on horseback when she was only a few months old. She spent her formative years at Strong City where she helped her father and brothers, Ken and Gerald, train and break horses. In this endeavor, she and her brothers rode unbroken horses three miles to their country school. The sale of broken horses helped get the family through the Great Depression. She began her rodeo career at the age of 13 trouping as a bareback bronc rider. During the summers while she was in high school, she rode for the Clyde Miller Wild West Show. After graduating from high school she contracted to perform at many circuses and rodeos. On July 21, 1934, she married Edwin J. Boysen, bronc rider and steer rider with the Miller show. After the Boysen’s left the Wild West Show, they contracted for Marge to trick ride and Eddie to trick rope at numerous rodeos in the mid-west where they were huge attractions. At the age of 19 Margie originated the “dive” as a trick rider. In this trick the rider leans forward over the horses head. By most accounts, this started as a fortuitous accident when she lost her balance and fell forward. With the wind keeping her upright she recovered and there was thunderous applause. In 1939 at Springfield, Missouri, she rode saddle broncs, barebacks and bulls in a Clyde Miller all-girl rodeo section. Margie rode in Madison Square Garden in New York, and in Cheyenne, Wyoming where she won the Ladies Bronc Riding championship in 1940. After Edwin and Marge divorced, She married George “Kid” Roberts in 1940. After her and Kid’s divorce she renewed a relationship with Edwin Boysen. In 1957, Edwin Boysen was murdered in a dispute with a neighbor. She married Albert W. Hart in 1961. She spent her last years with him at a small ranch at Strong City. In addition to her career in the rodeo arena, Margie trained and owned race horses in Arizona and operated a dude ranch at Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Missouri. Her love and care for animals was deep-seated and ever apparent. Margie was a gifted painter as well as being a talented rodeo cowgirl. Marge was the admirable older sister to siblings Ken, Gerald, Howard, Clifford and Gloria. On April 23, 1982 Margie Roberts died at the age of 65 and is buried in Strong City. Margie Roberts is a 1987 inductee into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame connection: Margie was the sister of 2005 KCHF Rodeo Cowboy inductee, Gerald Roberts.

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Harley Dean Gilbert – Rodeo Cowboy

Harley-Dean-Gilbert-Rodeo-Cowboy-2015“The [aptitude] test told me I could be anything I wanted, so I became a cowboy!”

 

Harley Dean Gilbert was born on June 7, 1934 in Busby, Kansas to Harley “Ermine” and Kathryn “Iris” Gilbert. He was the younger of two children, his sister Mary being born two years before. His parents ran a Hereford calf-cow operation and farmed hay and grains. Harley attended grade school in Busby. When he was 10 he began breaking horses, starting with one he had raised from its birth. Throughout his youth he broke many more horses and a few Brahma bulls. He graduated from nearby Longton High School in 1952. Though his parents wanted him to stay on the ranch, his dream was to ride bulls. A compromise was reached when he agreed to stay on the ranch during planting and harvest. He became friends with many rodeo greats while commuting to and from rodeos. In 1959, he started riding bulls for the RCA (now PRCA) competing in 13 States. He placed first at Nixa, MO; Ponca City, OK; Strong City, KS; Copan, OK; Burwell, NE; Kankakee, IL; Miami, OK; Huntington, WV; Davenport, IA; Burden, KS and Wichita, KS. He was listed as one of the top 15 bull riders in 1963. For several years, he worked with 2010 Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee, Sonny Worrell for Harry Knight, owner of the Flying A, as a pickup man. In addition to bull riding, Harley did some steer wrestling and roping. He placed first in steer wrestling in Great Bend, KS and Burden, KS. On November 15, 1966, he married Patty Jo Morris and they raised three children, Gerald “Jerry” Gilbert, Clinton “Clint” Gilbert and Tamberly “Tammy” Baker, in Busby. They have 10 grandchildren. In 1969, when his father died, Harley took over the ranch, but continued to rodeo professionally until 1974. After that, he competed in “old timers” events and reunions, and judged amateur and PRCA events. Harley is a PRCA Gold Card holder and has memberships in the American Quarter Horse Association, Kansas Thoroughbred Association and Kansas Quarter Horse Association. He is a licensed trainer for both Kansas and Oklahoma, and has been in the winners’ circle numerous times in horse races in both States. Though not currently licensed in Nebraska, he has won several races in that State. In 2009, the Kansas Thoroughbred Association awarded him Aged Horse of the Year for “Grand On Affair.” Harley is currently semi-retired working as an oil and gas consultant and lives near Fredonia, Kansas. Harley continues to ride horses to this day.

Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame connection:  Harley Gilbert worked with Sonny Worrell, 2010 Rodeo Cowboy, as a pickup man.

Year inducted: 2015

 

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Bud Sankey – Rodeo Cowboy

Bud Sankey Rodeo Cowboy 2014“I can make a damn sight more money with my head than with my hands.”

 

C.L. “Bud” Sankey was born on December 27, 1935 in Delta, Colorado to Doc and Fern Sankey. He spent his youth in Grand Junction, Colorado. Breaking and training horses from an early age, he always had a talent for selecting great horses. In the 1960’s, a Kansas horseman recognized Bud’s talent and hired him to train horses. After moving his young family to Kansas, he soon began training his own horses. On his way to owning his own arena and barn in Rose Hill, Kansas, Bud worked for Bill Ross, owner of Ross Western Wear near Wichita. Bud went on to win several State Cutting Horse Championships. He rode in the American Quarter Horse Association and Appaloosa Horse Club contests. He won the National Champion Appaloosa Cutting Horse in 1972 on Hoddy Doc, a horse he bought and trained as a two-year old. In 1975, Bud got involved in the rodeo stock business by providing bucking stock for Sankey Rodeo Schools, run by his sons, Ike and Lyle. He moved on to producing bull ridings at his indoor arena. For 30 years he hosted these Saturday night bull ridings with bucking bulls he bought and developed. During this time, he purchased and sold horses in addition to bucking bulls. Many of the bulls that started out at his Rose Hill arena ended up in pro rodeos, including the National Finals. Bud also had a hand at helping cowboys get started on the road to pro rodeo. He enjoyed seeing young cowboys come to his jackpots and schools to go on to compete on the national stage. Milburn and Mike Ouither, Spud Whitman, Doug Shipe, John Luthi and Buds sons, Ike and Lyle, are a few of those who rode at Sankey’s, and went on to a pro rodeo career. Bud is famous for his “Trading Post” which is filled with custom saddles, tack and historical western gear. Bud created a line of Sankey saddles, sold throughout the world. One of his most notable achievements is his invention of The Sankey Twister, an electronic bucking machine. Bud’s two sons are both rodeo champions having competed in the National Finals Rodeo. They both qualified for the NFR in multiple events. Bud’s grandkids have all competed in rodeo, and are currently involved in the business end of pro rodeo.

Year inducted: 2014

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Bobby Berger – Rodeo Cowboy

Bobby Berger Rodeo Cowboy 2013I’m just trying to keep myself together.”

As he continued competing in the National Finals Rodeo after being injured four times during the 1971 NFR.

 

Bobby Berger was born June 22, 1945 in Halstead, KS to Marlin and Loreva Berger. In 1962, at the age of 16 he won his first National Little Britches Rodeo. He was awarded rodeo scholarships by both Lamar Junior College of Lamar, CO, where he received an Associate’s Degree, and Cal Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, CA, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science. Bobby qualified 13 times for the National Finals Rodeo. In 1967 he was the NIRA Champion bull rider. Bobby was the NFR bull riding winner in 1969 and 1971. In 1971, he suffered injuries at the NFR and during a winning ride at a rodeo Cloverdale, BC Canada. But after 1973, he began placing again in the PRCA standings. He was the Prairie Circuit bull riding champion in 1976 and 1977, the PRCA saddle bronc champion in 1977, and in 1979, the PRCA World Champion saddle bronc rider. Bobby was inducted into the PRCA Hall of Fame in August 1990 in Colorado Springs. In February 2013, he was inducted into Halstead High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Bobby Berger has a positive outlook on life and is very knowledgeable about livestock. He has enjoyed great success in training horses and loves the rodeo. He married Serena Riggs on May 22, 1987 and together they have a daughter, Tyler. Bobby has three other children from a previous marriage, Jennings, Brienna and Catanna and two grandchildren. Bobby is currently employed by Basic Energy Services in Pearsall, Texas.

Year inducted: 2013

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Ernie Love – Rodeo Cowboy

Ernie Love Rodeo Cowboy 2012“I lived, breathed, ate and slept to be a cowboy and to rodeo.”

Ernie Love was born June 3, 1934, in Hutchinson to Raleigh and Mary Love  and was raised at El Dorado. Love always wanted to be a cowboy and milked cows by hand at nine-years-old to pay for his first horse. He quit school in his teens and got started in rodeo when he worked for rancher Wilbur Countryman of Cassoday. He learned to ride broncs one summer at the Emmett Robert’s Rodeo Ranch near Strong City.

After joining the Rodeo Cowboys Association, Love competed nationwide consistently winning bareback bronc, saddle bronc, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, steer roping and team roping competition. He competed in the first National Finals Rodeo in 1958 at Dallas. Love was busy in 1973 when he placed in 64 out of the 69 rodeos in which he competed. He also participated in registered quarter horse shows showing rope horses. Ernie Love has won numerous titles in a variety of events spanning more than 60 years. During maturity, he took part in Old Timers Rodeos riding bulls, placing second in the nation one year. He won his last bull riding at age 61 and placed in roping competition well into his 70’s. Ernie was an honorary lifetime member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and judged rodeos throughout the Midwest.

On Dec. 10, 1996 Ernie married Kathy at Westmoreland, Kansas. Late in his life, they lived on a 20-acre tract near Manhattan. Ernie had three sons, Dale, Ernie and Neil, two step-daughters Wendy Murphy and Marilyn Ortega, two grandsons, four step-granddaughters and three great grandchildren. Ernie Love died at the age of 78 on July 22, 2012 at his ranch near Manhattan just one day after being informed of his induction into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Year inducted: 2012

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Gail McComb – Rodeo Cowboy

Gail McComb Rodeo Cowboy 2011“Get back on the horse and ride.”

Gail Leon McComb was born in Stockton, KS on Nov. 12, 1928 to Leon and Florence McComb. He built a rodeo arena at the age of 19 where rodeos were held in 1949-50. He began competing in 1948, but became ineligible for ranch rodeos when he joined the RCA in 1949. McComb & Sons stock contractors consisting of Gail, his father and brother Keith began producing amateur rodeos in 1951. Gail won the ACA saddle bronc championship in 1951 despite an injured knee. In May 1952, he married Donna Miller. They have three daughters, Kathy Rees, Michele Kee and Melanie Hoch. In August of 1952, he was kicked in the ribs by a bareback horse. Though he qualified for champion saddle bronc rider and all-around cowboy of the ACA, he was unable to compete in the finals and retired from competition due to his injuries. He continued producing rodeos with McComb & Sons for the next 21 years. They produced rodeos in 48 towns, 30 which were in Kansas. They turned out bucking horses of the year 1964-66 (Western States Rodeo Association) and 1969-70 (Nebraska State Rodeo Association), as well as bareback horse in 1970 (NSRA). Gail held memberships in the RCA, ACA, KACA, WSRA and NSRA. Many of those who participated with McComb & Sons became well known. In 1972, Gail sold his business interest to his brother Keith when he was elected Rooks County Sheriff. After serving two years, he was on the Stockton Police Dept. from 1975 to 1977. Gail was a Stockton City Commissioner 1993-98. He sold real estate and was a scales/weigh man for area sale barns for many years. In 1995, he sold his Hereford cow herd and retired. Since then he has written articles for Kansas Cowboy, Stockton Sentinel newspaper and Solomon Valley Anthology.

Year inducted: 2011

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Sonny Worrell – Rodeo Cowboy

Sonny Worrell Rodeo Cowboy 2010“Rodeo is like any other sport – when you’re young you need a lot of practice.”

Sonny Worrell was born in Neodesha, Kansas to Carl and Helen Worrell on August 24, 1936. He lived with his family on the Pratt Ranch southwest of New Albany, Kansas until he was nine when the family moved into town. Sonny’s rodeo career began at the age of 11 when he won third place in calf roping at a rodeo in Erie, Kansas riding a horse he raised. When he was 15 he won calf roping at Mound City. He began his professional career while attending Oklahoma State University. Here he met the daughter of legendary steer roper Everett Shaw, Mary Sue Shaw of Stonewall, OK, and in 1957 the couple was married in Stillwater. He competed in calf roping and bulldogging, and later in steer roping, and was on his NIRA card until he got his PRCA card in 1960 when he was runner-up for Rookie of the Year.  He was the first Kansan to qualify for the National Finals. In 1970, a leg injury at the Houston Astrodome ended his calf roping and bulldogging, but he continued in steer roping. Sonny won money 23 times out the 28 times he entered the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. He placed or won in numerous rodeos throughout America. Worrell won money in Kansas at rodeos in Dodge City, Phillipsburg, Coffeyville, Hayes and Strong City. His career spanned well over 20 years and he competed in 16 National Finals Rodeos. Worrell was inducted in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame Class of 2006 and has been a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame since 1994. The Worrell’s have three children, Neil, Beverly and Kelly and two grandchildren who are rodeo contestants, Cacee Sue and Colby.

Year inducted: 2010

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Wayne Dunafon – Rodeo Cowboy

Wayne Dunafon Rodeo Cowboy 2009“If you don’t want to walk, break in a horse!” to Wayne from his father.

Wayne Dunafon was born in Yuma, Colorado to Jessie and Clarence Dunafon on June 15, 1919. Soon after, the family moved to the Nebraska Sand Hills. When Wayne was five, the family moved to Russell, Kansas by horse-drawn wagon. Before his senior year in High School the family moved back to Colorado. Wayne’s father was an avid horse trainer and urged his son to do the same. Active in rodeo, Wayne participated in five events professionally by the age of 18. In 1940 he moved to Westmoreland, Kansas. Ten years into his rodeo career, Wayne was ranked top ten for All-Around. He hung onto the toughest bucking horses and was a great steer wrestler. In 1956 he was runner up to the World Champion Bull-Dogger. He has two Champion All-Around Cowboy saddles and holds numerous buckles in steer wrestling. His rodeo career spanned over 27 years. Lee Jeans Company made him a worldwide American cowboy image and he was one of the famous “Marlboro Men.” He modeled for television and magazines from 1940 to 1978. On July 10, 1958 he married Lorraine (Lori) Ferguson in Missouri. They had two children, Wendy and Doug, and have five grandchildren. In 1976 Wayne served as Vice President of the newly founded Kaw Valley Rodeo Association. Wayne was a proud member of the Cowboy Turtle Association and the Rodeo Cowboy Association, and was a Gold-Life Member of the Pro Rodeo Association; all for over 60 years. He also held memberships in the Wesby Saddle Club, the Kansas Livestock Association and the Screen Actors Guild. He made his home with Lori in Westmoreland until his death on July 8, 2001. He was posthumously inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 2005.

Year inducted: 2009

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John McBeth – Rodeo Cowboy

John McBeth Rodeo Cowboy 2008John McBeth was born on October 2, 1940 to Harold and Lorene (Padgett) in Kingman, Kansas where he was raised and educated. He attended Hutchinson Junior College and went on to McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana on a rodeo scholarship. From 1956 to 1963 he pursued an amateur rodeo career, but went to two rodeos in 1963 as a professional, placing in both. Starting in 1965 he began riding in the National Finals Rodeo returning nine more consecutive times and again in 1978. In 1974 he won the Champion Saddle Bronc Rider World Title. John also had two appearances at the NFR as elected judge and 1976 and 1979, and was color commentator at the event several times. He performed in pro rodeo until 1988 when he retired by scoring 81 points on his last bronc ride at Yukon, Oklahoma. He married Francie Brewer in El Dorado, Kansas in 1962. They have two sons, Bart born in 1963, and Blake born in 1972. John and Francie have five grandchildren. John has a Bronc Riding School held mostly in Oneida, South Dakota. Many notables have come out of his school including Derek Clark, Tom C. Miller, Marty Jasndreau, Monte Melvin, his oldest son Bart, Gibson Nez, Larry Jordan, and Matt and Joe Reed. As many as eight of his graduates have qualified for the NFR. Three of his students Robert and Billy Etbauer, and Tom Reeves have eight world titles among them. John is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Senior Pro Rodeo and the Rodeo Historical Society.

Year inducted: 2008

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