GUYMON, Okla. – Over three-plus decades, Craig Latham left his mark on the Oklahoma Panhandle.
He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Deke, and moved to Goodwell to attend Oklahoma Panhandle State University, known nationally as Bronc Rider U. He was one of many that just added to that legacy, establishing himself early as an elite cowboy by winning the 1988 Resistol Rookie of the Year title.
He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo nine times before moving to the coaching ranks at his alma mater. He was the perfect man to take ownership of that post, a proud graduate who wanted to share that passion with others.
After a 12-year battle with cancer, he died in October 2021, but his legacy continues to live and prosper in the community he claimed as home for most of his life. Along with his surviving family, the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo is renaming his specialty event the Craig Latham Memorial Saddle Bronc Riding. It will take place during the four performances of Guymon’s rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
“This means everything to us,” said Lori Latham, his bride of 31 years. “This community, these people … it’s all part of who Craig was and still is. It’s about Panhandle State, the rodeo program there, the people in the community, the businesses. There has always been so much support here. It means everything to have him still be a part of it.”
The family had a memorial stand-alone bronc riding event last fall at the Frontier Rodeo ranch near Freedom, Oklahoma, as a way to commemorate Latham’s career. The transition to Guymon came about after conversations with members of the rodeo committee.
“We were talking with Lori about having this event at Craig’s hometown, and I thought it would be a good thing to include in our rodeo,” said Jeremy Carman, chairman of the volunteer group. “Craig always supported our rodeo.
“When he was the coach at Panhandle State, he was always helping us by either promoting it or making sure we had members of his team on hand to assist the committee. He was an integral part of Pioneer Days Rodeo.”
Lori Latham and her daughters, Chaney and Sadie and their families, will be on hand during the rodeo weekend, and the clan will be honored during Saturday night’s third performance.
“We’re very glad to have this here where everything is part of Craig and who he was and what this community means to us,” said Lori Latham, who will have a buckle made for the champion. “Living here and growing into adults here in the Panhandle made us better and stronger people.
“It’s not because of the elements here but because of the people and the support you have behind you.”