“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.