CLAREMORE, Okla. – Bob and Alice Morton knew they’d be part of the Rodeo Legends Banquet produced by the Will Rogers Roundup Club.
They’ve been part of the organization for nearly 35 years, so being involved comes with the territory. When they learned they were part of the inductees into this year’s hall of fame class, there was an element of surprise.
“I was floored,” Alice Morton said. “I really think Bob should’ve been honored, but not necessarily me. He’s done so much for this rodeo.”
That he has. Since moving to Rogers County in the mid-1970s, Bob Morton has been a big part of the organization that produces the annual Will Rogers Stampede, this year celebrating its 65th year with three performance set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27-Sunday, May 29. He’s heavily involved in getting everything ready for the record number of contestants and the fans who will flock to town.
“Being inducted is a matter of respect and pride in what we’ve done with the rodeo and, hopefully, for the community,” said Bob Morton, co-chairman of the rodeo who has spent more than two decades as the rodeo’s chairman. “We moved here in 1974 from western Oklahoma via Shawnee. I was raised on a ranch in Custer County.
“I’d been involved in rodeo before, so when we got here, I got involved in the Chelsea Roundup Club and the Claremore roundup club. I wanted to stay involved in ProRodeo, and ultimately, I was the rodeo chairman for 23 years.”
But he’s had a lot of help over the year, primarily with his partner in life.
“I couldn’t have done it without her,” he said of Alice. “She’s been an integral part of it from the beginning. She’s stuck through a lot of things and has been a very helpful partner.”
That’s the way life works in these parts. It takes hard work, sometimes, but the passions behind it all should be celebrated.
“Bob was always very helpful in making this a great rodeo,” said David Petty, the rodeo chairman. “He put in a long time as chairman of this rodeo, and when I came on board, I basically went back to him to come back in and share his expertise to help us. He’d been there before, and I had a lot of deep respect for Bob, who knows what it takes to make it a great event.”
The proof is in the years of sweat poured into the rodeo, the rodeo arena and the roundup club. The proof is in the 564 entries in this year’s rodeo and the Justin Best Footing award in the Prairie Circuit, awarded by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association in 2010.
“It’s just a way to stay involved in a sport we both love and respect,” Bob Morton said. “You get to stay involved with the pole you’ve been involved with, and you get to be around good people. Our kids were raised up in this arena, too. Both Deann and Greg helped around here.
“A lot of other people in the roundup club have been a lot of help, too. Over the years, Tommy and JoAnn Orr, Joe and Wahnee Tanner and Earl and Nita Chambers have all worked their butts off promoting the roundup club and the Will Rogers Stampede through the years.”
The Mortons were honored during the Rodeo Legends Banquet with world champion ropers Guy Allen, Roy Cooper and Shoat Webster.
“It was a great honor to be included with people like that,” Bob Morton said. “We happen to know all those guys, so that made it even better.”