Big Spring to remember Mathis

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BIG SPRING, Texas – As Mike Mathis spoke, his voice revealed a gravely sound and a passion for rodeo.

The sounds he made were undeniable. When Mathis spoke, there was an air of contentment, and the sound of his voice reverberated the Old West. For many, Mathis was the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo, his voice resonating with their love affair for the local shindig.

“He was the voice of the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo,” said Dane Driver, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20-Saturday, June 22, at the Rodeo Bowl. “Mike’s personality was as big as his voice. He was a true, genuine friend, and he was the epitome of a true Southern gentleman.

“Mike announced rodeos because he loved rodeos, not because he couldn’t do anything else.”

Mathis, a 2013 Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee, died this past December in Las Vegas. A voice that many associated with the sport of rodeo was silenced, and an icon in the industry is now remembered. Though Anthony Lucia enters his third year as Big Spring’s rodeo announcer, Mathis’ memory lives on for thousands of people who made the annual event a big part of their lives.

“It was an honor to come in after Mike Mathis, whose tenure in Big Spring was long and fruitful,” said Lucia of Weatherford, Texas. “I don’t want to say I fill his shoes, because I could never do that, but now with his passing, following in his footsteps makes it that much more special knowing that he announced that rodeo for so long.”

Mathis owned a master’s degree in finance and had served as executive vice president of Lufkin (Texas) National Bank in his hometown before turning his attention to rodeo. He became a member of the PRCA in 1983 and announced many big events, including the National Circuit Finals Rodeo, the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo, the National Finals Steer Roping and was an alternate for the 1994 National Finals Rodeo.

He called rodeos nationwide but had an affinity for events in the Lone Star State. The admiration was mutual.

“He’s not the only announcer I remember here, but he’s the most vivid,” said Driver, who indicted that a special celebration for Mathis will take place during this year’s event. “After I came back from college, I’ve been back for 20 years, and most of that time was all Mike. We were always trying to grow that spectator experience, and he helped with that. Mike’s personality was as big as his voice.”

As this year’s rodeo commences in mid-June, there will be many sounds coming from the Rodeo Bowl. Horses and hooves will resonate with a cheering crowd and cowboys battling for the big bucks in Big Spring. There is where Mike Mathis’ voice will echo across the Plains of west Texas.


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