OGDEN -- The Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo may look the same this year, but one major component will be missing.
It's Jim Smith.
Smith was diagnosed with Angio Imuno Blastic Lymphoma early this year and has avoided the rodeo because he needs to keep up his immune system.
The disease is a rare form of cancer that's in his bones.
The president of rodeo sponsor Smith and Edwards, Smith is hoping to receive a transplant of his own healthy bone marrow next month.
Rodeo officials say he may be just one man, but his absence leaves a big void.
"He's the icon of rodeo in this town," said Desiree Cooper Larsen, a former Ogden Pioneer Days chairwoman and sponsorship director. "He's just a very real person that is very genuine and has a heart as big as Texas."
Larsen outlined numerous ways Smith has contributed to the community, as well as to the rodeo.
"He really is bigger than life. We just appreciate everything he's done for Ogden Pioneer Days, for Miss Rodeo Utah and for the community," she said.
Dave Halverson, Ogden Pioneer Days chairman, said it's not just the locals who have noticed Smith's absence.
"The cowboys have asked about him. The sound guy asked about him. The stock contractor and the video guy, they all asked about him," Halverson said. "I think that says a lot."
Halverson said Smith, who has served on the rodeo committee and the foundation board for years, is a well-versed advocate for the cowboys who is known for pushing to increase prize money.
Besides his committee service, Smith has helped the rodeo in other ways.
"He does a lot with ticket sales," said Jerry Shaw, who is vice chairman of the rodeo committee. "He contributes a lot of merchandise. He's always brought water for the contestants under the chutes."
While Smith said he wants to support the Western lifestyle that supports his store, it's clear to those who talk about him that Smith's efforts have gone far beyond that.
"Our family, it's our way of life," Smith said about rodeo.
Smith's wife, Paula, serves as the backbone of a hospitality effort to provide meals and treats for the cowboys and cowgirls who come to the rodeo.
She has also contributed in other ways, such as serving for eight years as the Spikers High School Rodeo Club secretary.
All three of the Smith children have made a name for themselves in rodeo and the Western scene.
Daughter Misti Smith Kosoff, serves on the Miss Rodeo Utah committee.
Dustin runs the Smith's Broken Heart Ranch and is a former Utah High School Rodeo Association champion steer wrestler.
Craig also won a steer wrestling state title and now competes in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Craig is married to Mikka Dahle Smith, who is a well-known name in barrel racing.
Kosoff is known for her barrel racing and breakaway roping and was on a national championship team competing for Weber State University.
She is married to Kyle Kosoff, who is a top name in the PRCA for tie-down roping.
But the family's influence goes far beyond its name recognition.
Smith has followed in his dad's footsteps. Burt N. Smith has supported Ogden Pioneer Days since the days of former Ogden Mayor Harmon Peery.
Jim Smith said his favorite Ogden Pioneer Days moment came a handful of years ago when his dad was the parade grand marshal.
"I had him on Preacher, a rodeo horse," Smith said, noting the horse's spirited nature. "I followed him along the sidewalk on the way to make sure he was OK."
Paula and Jim Smith both noted how funny Burt was in the parade -- taking pictures of those taking pictures of him and talking on his cell phone.
"At the end, he had tears in his eyes, and he said, 'This is what it's all about. Isn't it?' " Smith said.
Now that cancer has him somewhat isolated, Smith said he admires his family and their efforts like never before.
"You always know how important family is, but it's telling them how much you appreciate them and seeing them exercise their talents and potential, that's important," he said.
Misti Smith Kosoff has put together a blog where Smith's friends and associates can keep abreast of how he is doing. It is at papajimsarmy.blogspot.com.