Rodeo to honor Western legend

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Holly Sprietzer carries the American flag during an opening at last year’s Rooftop Rodeo while riding Ron Ball’s horse, Trigger. Ball, who died just weeks after the rodeo last year, stands and salutes the flag as Sprietzer and Trigger pass by him.

Ron Ball made his mark with people in Estes Park and at Rooftop Rodeo

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Ron Ball live a full life of being a servant to others.

After graduation from South High School in Denver, he served in the United States Marine Corps. He wrapped up his stint while living in California, then served in the Los Angeles Police Department, retiring as a detective sergeant after 20 years.

He promptly returned to Colorado and gathered with the people in and around Estes Park for 36 years before his death last summer. Whether he was a cowboy singer, a Western artist, a Rooftop Rodeo Rider or an organizer with the annual rodeo, he was always serving others and showing his passion for the Western lifestyle.

“Ron did a lot for our rodeo,” said Holly Spreitzer, a former Miss Rooftop Rodeo and a member of Estes Park Western Heritage Inc., a group of volunteers that works with the town of Estes Park to produce the annual rodeo. “He was so into putting into the community and into our rodeo.”

His life and legacy will be honored at this year’s Rooftop Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6-Monday, July 11, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds. His memorial will take place during Military Night on Sunday, July 10.

“I met Ron in 2015, and it was one of my first years I attended Rooftop Rodeo,” said Spreitzer, who helped plan his funeral last August and is organizing the memorial. “He definitely made an impression. He was a fan of Roy Rogers, and he reminded me a lot of Roy Rogers when I saw him dressed up in his outfits during the rodeo.

“I was inspired by Dale Evans for my rodeo queen outfits. We had an immediate connection. That year I got to sing with him. He did a concert every year, and I got to meet him and his wife. I got to know them and spend a lot of time with them. I got to learn about his story and how he got involved with things, especially with our rodeo in Estes.”

Ron Ball, left, poses with then Miss Rodeo Colorado Kellsie Purdy Simons a few years ago.

Whether he was serving in the Marine Corps or trying to solve crimes in L.A., Ball was always a cowboy singer and Western artist at heart. As a youngster, his love of being a singer, artist and cowboy pointed him in that direction. He got his first wrangling job at age 13, but he’d attended the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo three years before that.

The fire had been lit, and years of sharing his passions with others just continued to stoke the flames. Being friends with Roy Rogers and having sung with him and the Sons of the Pioneers was a highlight of his life, as was the extension of that when Rogers’ son, Roy “Dusty” Rogers Jr., asked Ball to sing at the family’s museum and theater in Branson, Missouri.

During his own Western shows, Ball paid tribute to Rogers with music and stories. He also dressed the part.

“He’d been fascinated by the Western industry,” Spreitzer said. “His grandmother was an artist who did the exhibits in the Denver museum. When he was a kid, he would help her paint and design them. He was always interested in art and music.

“When he was in California, he got to know a lot of people, and one of those was Roy Rogers. He was a big fan and became one of his personal friends. Throughout the years, he really wanted to portray the Western industry and all it stood for. Roy even gifted him a few items, and that really meant a lot to Ron. When he moved to Estes Park after his career with the LAPD, he wanted to keep the Western industry alive, and he always kept up with it.”

He maintained contact with other Western artists and created a Western art show in Estes Park. He invited them to be part of the community.

Spreitzer’s relationship with Ball and his wife, Janie, was strong. She considered him to be another grandfather in her life, and she adored their relationship. Celebrating him is an honor she won’t forget.

“No matter how big Estes Park grew, he was one of the people who made sure we remembered our Western roots and how Estes Park was a big, wholesome community,” she said. “Everything that Ron did was with the idea of being a helping hand.”


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