CLAREMORE, Okla. – It’s been eight years since the first class was inducted into the Will Rogers Roundup Club’s Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The prestige keeps building.
“This is a way for us to celebrate the things that have made the roundup club and the Will Rogers Stampede something special,” said rodeo chairman David Petty, noting this year’s Rodeo Legends Banquet will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Roundup Clubhouse. “From Clem McSpadden, our first honoree, to the group we’re inducting this year, these people have helped build professional rodeo to the entertaining sport it is today.”
This year’s inductees are steer roping legends “Shoat” Webster and Guy Allen, all-around champion Roy Cooper and longtime roundup club members Bob and Alice Morton.
“The people who are part of the roundup club are such a big part of this community and of rodeo, in general,” said Donna McSpadden, Clem’s widow who has carried his strong rodeo voice since his death nearly three years ago. “The town was always heavily involved, and the people were happy to have the roundup club here. Rodeo is a star in somebody’s heart.”
It is in the hearts of the inductees, that’s for sure. The Mortons have been involved for decades, holding many prestigious titles in the roundup club. Bob served as chairman of the rodeo for a number of years, and he continues to be an integral piece of the puzzle in producing the annual event, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 28-Sunday, May 29.
“If there’s a rodeo mom and dad for a lot of us from around here, they are it,” said Justin McKee, a rodeo announcer from Lenapah, Okla., who will emcee the hall of fame banquet, stepping in for arena announcer Scott Grover, who had a prior commitment. “It’s good knowing they’re there. They’re some of the finest people that this region has had to promote rodeo and contestants.
“They care about people. Everybody knows they care about rodeo, but they’re also genuine people. They genuinely care about people they’re around and like, and that’s meaningful.”
Born Howard Choteau Webster, “Shoat” is a four-time world champion steer roper from Lenepah who could also wrestle steers and rope calves. He was an all-around hand focused on his work at Lowry Ranch, but he could win at about anything he tried; he was even the world champion wild cow milker at Madison Square Garden one year.
“What people don’t realize because it’s so long and he’s outlived most of his old counterparts, but at places like Pecos (Texas), Pendleton (Ore.) and Cheyenne (Wyo.) – or any of those places in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico or west Texas where steer roping was big – Shoat was more popular and won more stuff than Casey Tibbs or Jim Shoulders,” said McKee, who also competes in steer roping.
He might have won more often had he hit the road and competed at more events.
“That son of a buck didn’t go that much,” McKee said. “Nobody can touch his earnings percentage. If you go to San Angelo (Texas) or Pawhuska (Okla.) where they had the invitational steer ropings, this guy was Elvis. This guy was as tough and good looking and as popular as they come.”
Rodeo is about tough, whether it’s competing on ornery livestock or traveling tens of thousands of miles in order to make a living. Both Allen and Cooper have done it all, and they have the gold buckles to prove it.
“Having world champions like Guy, Roy and Shoat in our hall of fame is important, because they’re proof of what it takes to win in rodeo,” Petty said. “Guy is here every year, just like he was when he was winning world championships while living in Vinita (Okla.).”
Allen has won a lot of world championships. His 18 steer roping gold buckles are the most by any individual in the history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. From 1991-2001, nobody was better. But there were eight other years in which the New Mexico cowboy won the top prize in his event.
“This is a big deal to me, because when I was starting my announcing career, Guy lived in Vinita and we went to church together at Cowboy Junction,” McKee said. “He helped me with my steer roping. We became lifelong friends. One of the highlights of my life is being able to hang out with Guy, getting to rope with him every day.”
Cooper owns eight world titles – six in tie-down roping, one in steer roping and one in the all-around; in 1983, he won the coveted Triple Crown by winning three championships in a single season. He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 20 times – 19 in calf roping and once in team roping – and he made 13 trips to the National Finals Steer Roping. This past year December he watched his three sons, Clif, Clint and Tuf, compete at the NFR.
“Roy’s been on of my biggest inspirations, but not for the reason a lot of people have had,” McKee said. “In his later years when he was only competing in steer roping or calf roping, he hadn’t been on the road or behind the barrier nearly as much as his younger counterparts, but he’d still come in there and win money.
“I’d like to be like that, when I show up, I can win like he does. That’s something I shoot for. I want to be like Roy.”