Top cowboys, cowgirl to be inducted into Utah Cowboy museum

Tuesday , July 05, 2016 - 6:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Eight men and one woman will be inducted into the Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame ahead of Ogden Pioneer Days.

The cowboys and cowgirl are among those who best personify the Western way of life and heritage throughout Utah, according to those who have selected them for the honor.

The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located in Ogden’s Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave. While the annual induction ceremony — now in its fifth year — is held each year during the month of Ogden Pioneer Days, the museum is open year-round. 

Those to be honored this year during a ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, July 8, at Union Station, are Marvin Dunbar, Mary Shaw Drake, Don Kennington, Norman “Shorty” Thompson, Kenneth Woolstenhulme and Cody Wright.

Three additional honorees were also selected this year to be recognized in an emeritus category for their impact on the West. They are the Bascom Family, Charles Redd and Albert Scorup.

Marvin Dunbar

Brigham City resident Don Dunbar personified the rough and tumble life of a cowboy when he told a story about his father talking to him when he was young. “When I was a little boy, about five, I remember him calling me into the bathroom shaving,” Don Dunbar said. “He said ‘little fellows, I want you to promise your daddy something — you won’t ride those bulls and broncs.’ ”

The son said his late father was the all-around champion for Utah seven years in a row and the first cowboy to be flown to a rodeo in 1932.

He said his father was a legend worthy of the well-circulated biography Don wrote, titled “A Man Born to Ride: The Marvin Dunbar Story.”

Marvin Dunbar was a stunt double in the movie, The Misfits, starring Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe in 1961.

Don Dunbar listed all standard rodeo events as those for which his father competed, including barrel racing, which now is typically a women’s sport. He said his father was a marksman and an avid storyteller. 

“He was a rodeo clown, trick rider, trick roper, pick-up man, a judge, fairgrounds director,” he said. “He used a stadium in Logan as a guest ranch. He gave riding lessons, trail rides. He took people on fishing trips all over Utah.”

Don Dunbar said his father helped organize the Intermountain Quarter Horse Association and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s posse. He also organized the Cache County Sheriff’s Posse.

“I remember him telling the ward teachers that he didn’t want to ask God for anything he couldn’t do for himself,” the son said.

He was struck by lightning on June 14, 1963, and killed instantly, said his son.

Mary Shaw Drake

Drake reigned as Miss Rodeo America in 1998.

“She had a natural riding ability that was enhanced over the years through constant training,” said a news release from the museum.

Drake was the Utah High School Rodeo Queen in 1994 and was in the top five at the National High School Rodeo Finals.

In 1997, she was named Miss Rodeo Ogden and Miss Rodeo Utah. At the same time, she held the titles of Lehi Roundup Queen and Miss Hooper Tomato Days.

At the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, Drake competed against 35 young women for the title.

Throughout 1998, she traveled 100,000 miles, covering 22 states while she advertised rodeo, said the news release.

She had a serious setback in May of that year when she was thrown from a horse, causing a spiral fracture that required eight screws and a metal plate in her lower leg and ankle, said the release. “She spent three weeks recuperating, and then was back on the road,” said the release.

After the completion of her reign, Drake completed her schooling at Weber State University in technical sales and later earned a master of science in health promotion at Brigham Young University.

In 2005, she married Captain Aaron Drake, a JAG in the United States Air Force. They lived in Alabama and Colorado before moving back to Utah.

Don Kennington

The late Kennington was born in 1931 and grew up on a cattle ranch on Crow Creek in Idaho.

“He was shoeing his own horse at the age of 10, and eventually taught horse-shoeing at Weber State College for 16 years,” according to the news release. “He had the extraordinary ability to calm and handle nervous and unruly horses. He learned the value of a solid day’s work.”

His legacy includes riding broncs in local rodeos and participating in calf-roping.

Kennington started boxing as a student at Star Valley High and continued to box after his marriage and move to Utah, according to the news release. In 1953, he won the Intermountain Golden Gloves as a welterweight boxer. He also did exhibition bouts with Don Fullmer.

Among varied skills was his ability as a cowboy poet. He performed throughout the West. “His work shoeing horses and writing cowboy poetry was his way of keeping the cowboy way of life alive,” said the news release.

A member of the Utah, Idaho and Wyoming cowboy poets associations, he was one of the first cowboy poets to be invited to Elko, Nevada, where he became a favorite. He received the Cowboy Poets of Utah Pioneer Heritage award and numerous belt buckles.

He and his brother published five cowboy poetry books, and many unfinished poems were found in notebooks after his death.

Don and his wife, Arlene, were married for 63 years and raised six children. He passed away Jan. 1, 2015.

Norman “Shorty” Thompson

The late Thompson owned and operated a ranch in Pleasant View for 60 years.

Part of the ranch included an arena that attracted youth from throughout Utah. “They would go there every night to practice riding bareback, bulls and roping,” said the news release. “Shorty would use his own horse for roping. Then, he would take the saddle off and the young people could practice their bucking skills.”

His nomination told of Thompson killing a pig or lamb and cooking it in a pit for a big dinner in the evening, after the competition for the day was over.

“He traded cows and horses a number of years, and knew everyone from all over the state,” said the news release. “Many people still remember buying their first horse from Shorty. He always had a team of horses that usually pulled a wagon loaded with politicians, through the parades. He also used the horses to pull feed or hay into the fields, better than using a conventional tractor or bale wagon, he thought.”

He held the first high school rodeo in Utah and helped promote rodeo, often working as arena director of high school and college rodeo. He also held rodeos and carnivals in conjunction with his church as fundraisers in the 1960s.

“You rarely saw him dressed in anything but worn work boots, western shirts and a hat,” said the news release. “He was a man who always had a smile on his face and a clap on the back, and who stood by his word. He was a man of integrity.”

One of Shorty’s bulls was purchased by Gerald Young, who named it ”Last Chance” The bull made quite a name for himself in the PRCA rodeo.

Kenneth Woolstenhulme 

The oldest of 11 children, Woolstenhulme was raised by hard-working parents during the Depression. 

In 1971, Woolstenhulme and his wife, Karren, purchased what is now known as Den’s Kash Store, during which time he served as the postmaster. He retired from the postal service in 1997, and he and his wife served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Perth, Australia.

The store was sold in 2008, and he now spends his time farming and raising cattle, which he has done on the side most of his life.

Between 1956 and 1972, he won 18 championships in the bareback, bull riding, and all-around categories. All were accomplished while raising a family. When he finished his competitive years, he worked as a pick-up man at the rodeos, first at the amateur level and then as a professional in the PRCA, where he worked for Bar T Rodeo Company.

Ken has spent most of his life in service to others, including 23 years in bishoprics for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

His biography states that he was a Summit County commissioner from 1966 to 1971 and 2002 to 2006, mayor of Oakley from 1985 to 1997, a member of the Utah School Boards Association from 1968 to 1972,  and a South Summit School District Board Member from 1958 to 1974.

He was the Rocky Mountain Rodeo Association president two times, RMRA bareback riding director for much of his competitive years and on the Oakley Independence Day rodeo committee from 1954 to the present.

“All his life Ken has been known as a champion of rodeo, a hard-working cattle rancher, and a leader of his community,” said the news release. “Whether riding a bull, picking up a cowboy after his ride, or growing a small town amateur rodeo into a nationally prominent PRCA event, Ken has personified the very best of the Western way of life.”

Cody Wright 

The Wright family has been running a cattle ranch in canyon country for more than 150 years.

Cody Wright was born in Toquerville. He is the oldest of seven brothers. All but the youngest are rodeo competitors.

Wright joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in his early 20s. Compact in size and well-muscled, over the years he worked his way up to two world saddle bronc championships, in 2008 and 2010, according to his biography.

In 2000, he won the all-around title in the Wilderness Circuit. The next year, he duplicated the fete, also winning the Grand Champion Rodeo in San Francisco, and the Eugene Oregon Pro rodeo.

In 2008, he was followed by a documentary filmmaker from Southern Utah State University. “Born to Ride” premiered in Cedar City in April 2009. He qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo every year between 2003 and 2014.

“His is a close-knit family, and often his winnings, and that of his brothers, would go toward adding cattle to their ranch,” said the news release. “Memorial Day became a family holiday, when all of them would get together to round up the cattle and brand the new calves.”

Some of his biggest competitors have been his brothers. They often traveled together to the competitions. 

Now his sons, 20-year-old Rusty and 18-year-old Ryder, are competing professionally and making their mark, creating one of the strongest rodeo families in the business, according to the news release.

He said his hobbies are his wife, Sharee, and his children — Rusty, Ryder, Stetson, age 17, Statler, age 12, and Lily Jo, age 7. He enjoys watching their accomplishments.

Those named as emeritus honorees, all of whom have been deceased for many years, include:

The Bascom Family

“Though their western influence was most prominent in Canada, the family started out in Utah, moving to Canada when they were young,” according to the news release. “They did much to promote the cowboy culture not only in Canada, but in Utah and other states as well.”

John W. Bascom was born in 1869 in Utah. He lived in Uintah County as a young man where he became a rancher and a lawman, serving as a deputy Sheriff who chased members of the Wild Bunch. He took his family to Canada in 1949.

His sons all were inductees into the Sports Hall of Fame in addition to being rodeo champions. They were: J. Raymond “Tommy” Bascom, born in 1901;   Melvin “High Pockekts” Bascom, born 1903; F. Weldon “Preacher” Bascom, born 1912, and Earl W. Bascom, born 1906, who was previously inducted into the museum.

Charles Redd

Redd operated large ranching operations in southeastern Utah and expanded his herds into western Colorado, according to the news release.

He helped organize and then presided over the National Wool Marketing Association, and he served three terms in the Utah Legislature. He established the Lemuel H. Reed Chair in Western History and the Charles Reed Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University. 

Albert Scorup

Scorup was a pioneering, Utah rancher who ran one of the largest cattle operations in the nation, with livestock ranging over much of southern Utah, according to the news release. He was elected to the Oklahoma Cowboy Hall of Fame where his memory is honored by the cattle industry. 

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook.

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