Hall of Fame to honor Wyoming working cowboys
Nearly 14 years ago, Russell “Pinky” Walter recognized that cowboys and cowgirls across Wyoming deserve recognition for their work and influence in the state’s history.
At the time, however, Walter was unable to garner enough support to bring the idea of a Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame (WCHF) to reality. However, earlier last year, Scott Ratliff joined Walter and brought the idea to fruition.
“The working cowboy is really the backbone of the West,” says Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame Secretary Cindy Garretson-Weibel of Cheyenne. “I don’t think they’ve had proper recognition, so that was the impetus to create the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame.”
The Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame is a nonprofit corporation, founded through a series of meetings beginning in April 2013.
“Scott really got excited about it and started calling people across the state,” says Garretson-Weibel. “A few people started coming up with names and identified board members across various geographical regions.”
As a result, Board Members Scott Ratliff of Riverton, Walter of Lingle, Garretson-Weibel of Cheyenne, Paulette Moss of Riverton, Tracy Smith of Cody, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns of Newcastle, Wendy Auzqui of Clearmont, Nancy Espenscheid of Big Piney and Heidi Merritt Sedar of Casper came together to form the organization.
The purposes of WCHF are exclusively historical, cultural, literary and educational, with their chief goal stated as, “to preserve, promote, perpetuate, publish and document Wyoming’s rich working cowboy and ranching history through researching, profiling and honoring individuals who broke the first trails and introduced that culture to this state.”
“We are looking to keep the legacy of the cowboy going,” says Garretson-Weibel. “We are finding that there are fewer and fewer of what some would call old-time cowboys. We want to make sure their story isn’t left behind.”
The WCHF will preserve the legacy and stories of those great cowboys who embody Wyoming’s history.
The WCHF is accepting nominations for the first class of inductees until July 15. Nomination forms are available on the website or by calling one of the Board Members.
“We’re looking for someone from Wyoming who has seen lots of time in the saddle,” explains Garretson-Weibel. “The WCHF is designed to honor those who have spent quite a lot time as a working cowboy and are recognized in their community as a true cowboy who appreciates the western way of life.”
Nominees must be at least 45 years old and have primary residency in the state of Wyoming. Additionally, their career must have been spent in Wyoming as a working cowboy.
As nominations are received, a copy will be forwarded to the committee in the nominee’s home region. The committee will gather information and determine whether or not to be inducted.
At that point, the Board will meet and select the first class of inductees.
“An official nomination ceremony will be held sometime in the fall of 2014,” says Garretson-Weibel.
Remember the past
Currently, the WCHF is a virtual hall of fame found at wyomingcowboyhalloffame.com, but Garretson-Weibel notes that the group intends to write a detailed story about each inductee to memorialize them.
“As the program evolves, I think the stories will take some sort of printed form,” she says. “We’ve also had many discussion about a location for a bricks-and-mortar hall of fame.”
To get the program started, however, she notes that they opted for a virtual presence.
“When we find the financing and interests from supporters, there could be an actual physical location for the WCHF,” Garretson-Weibel comments. “The most important thing right now is that we take the time to recognize those who are deserving of this honor.