Nearly 18 years ago I sat down at a little restaurant in South Hutchinson, Kan., to visit with a ProRodeo legend.
In that hour and a half, I learned more about Hadley Barrett, his family and his passions. He gave me insights that I never published, but I have carried them with me for almost two decades. He was more than a source to me; he also was my friend.
Hadley died this morning just five days after announcing the final round of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. He was 87. Memorials for him have already filled social media, and the tributes will continue for many weeks ahead. He was that kind of man.
My visit with Hadley on that July 1999 day was just before the first performance of the Kansas Largest Night Rodeo in Pretty Prairie. It was just a few weeks prior to his induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, a designation he rightfully deserves.
I sat with him, his wife, Lee, and our dear friend, Connie Hedrick, who was a major part of the Pretty Prairie rodeo committee. We chatted about his love affair with that rodeo, one he began announcing early in his career.
Oh, and what a career.
He has called the action at the National Finals Rodeo, the National Finals Steer Roping, the Canadian Finals Rodeo and served for many years as the NFR TV announcer. His voice and rodeo were synonymous.
He filled me in on the intricacies that come with announcing on TV and what it meant to work a rodeo horseback. He explained what a joy it was to return to the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills to announce his hometown rodeo, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
I can’t begin to tell you how many big rodeos he’s worked, but I can tell you he was a class act and that he will be missed in the world of rodeo.
Cheers, Hadley Barrett. You were one of a kind.
MY STORY FROM JULY 1999 IN THE HUTCHINSON NEWS: http://www.hutchnews.com/news/time—-begins-p-m-tonight-through-saturday/article_8c621b0f-60ba-5704-9e8c-75285b6ec111.html