MEET OUR 2024 HALL OF FAME NOMINEES

Lawrence Hopkins

RANCHING PRE 1940s

Lawrence Hopkins

Lawrence Hopkins was born in Kenmare, North Dakota, on July 4, 1907. He lived in the Kenmare area as a boy and went to work as a ranch hand at an early age. He married Bernadette Manners in 1928 and they became barbershop/cafe owners in Regan, ND. In the Spring of 1939, Lawrence and Bernadette purchased 80 acres near Regan that Lawrence described as “rock piles and mostly scenery”.

Homesteaders had settled there in 1910, but plowing didn’t work well with the type of land. Lawrence thought “going along with nature” was a better plan and started a cattle ranch.

In 1951, Lawrence built Willow Spring Ranch southeast of Regan in Rock Hill Township and moved his family there. By 1964, Lawrence had acquired 12,800 acres of land, adding the ZX Ranch near Wing. At the peak of his ranching, he had over 3000 head of cattle. He raised Registered Herefords which were often shown at cattle shows by his daughter, Rosemary. In the late 60’s, Lawrence tried his hand at raising long horn cattle which turned out to be poorly timed as the blizzard of 1966 wiped out most of the herd. Never one to give up, Lawrence learned from this experience and went on to successfully ranch until his death November 22, 1986.

Lawrence was an expert rider and always had a horse on the ranch. He was a cowboy in every sense of the word, always seen with cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He found a sense of spirituality when working with the land and cattle and was most happy when riding among his cattle.

He was a member of the North Dakota Hereford Association for many years and served as its president. He was a charter member and a past director of the Wing Horse Club and was involved in the Wing Rodeo for many years. He belonged to the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association.


Lawrence’s daughter, Rosemary, lives on Willow Springs Ranch and continues to hold the brand of the ZX and Willow Springs Ranches. Grandson, Darrell Oswald owns/ranches several sections of Willow Springs Ranch including the original 80 acres.

Elwood Haines O’Cain

RANCHING PRE 1940s

Elwood Haines O'Cain
Elwood Haines O’Cain was born on July 29, 1876, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, descending from a long line of Quakers. Elwood and his brother operated an upholstery shop in 1898 at Fort Dodge, Iowa. In 1900, he went to Stevens Point, Wisconsin.. While there he learned that relatives had established a ranch about 8 miles south of White Earth, North Dakota. As Elwood had planned a trip to Alaska in the spring of 1904, he decided to stop to see his cousin Minor Williams who operated the Crown Ranch, one of the earliest ranches in the White Earth Valley. Elwood was impressed by the luxuriant grass, the abundance of water and the natural shelter of the many wooded coulees. In the fall of 1904, he filed on a homestead about eight miles down the White Earth River from the Crown Ranch. His lands adjoined the David C. Boyd ranch to the north and adjoined land to the southwest which was originally a part of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In 1905 and 1906, Elwood wintered horses for Matt Gilmore, two miles down the White Earth River on what was formerly known as the Murphy Ranch. This ranch was first established by Eustis Jameson and Mcclung in 1887. When Elwood was visiting the Gilmore ranch, he was hired to break horses for Mr. Schofield of Minot. On several occasions, Elwood would drive bunches of horses across the open county from the Filmore ranch to Minot. Elwood met Ada Loftiss of Pontiac, Illinois on one of his trips to Minot. They were married on July 20, 1907, and raised a family of five. Elwood was employed as overseer at the Slater Mine, the first commercial coal mine in Mountrail County.

Arnold Bendish

RANCHING MODERN ERA

Arnold Bendish

Born in 1940, Arnold Bendish lived his entire life in the Fort Rice vicinity, except for the time he attended high school in Bismarck. He broke horses at the Wachter Ranch at age 20 and ranched with his dad until the elder Bendish retired. Bendish then established his own spread by purchasing the Gwyther Place to add to his dad’s acreage. He acquired the T Bar brand and named his ranch for it. He and his bride and their growing family also managed the famous Cannonball Ranch from 1970 until it was sold in 1995.

Bendish was in the vanguard of ranchers who crossbred cattle, settling on the Gelbvieh breed. He took a short course in veterinary medicine which helped him be more self-sufficient in caring for his livestock. All hay and feed for his cattle and horses was homegrown. During the difficult drought of the 1980’s, Bendish removed his cattle to Wyoming until sufficient pasture resumed in North Dakota, rather than sell the quality herd he had worked so arduously to build up.

Ranch work, round ups and brandings were always done in the traditional manner–on horseback–with assistance from well-trained border collies and without any chutes, dart guns and trailers.

The T Bar Ranch hosted many social events that introduced greenhorns, city folk and foreign visitors to the rigors and rewards of ranch work. He sponsored rodeo and roping activities at his ranch for youth from all over the United States.

In the early 1970s, Bendish promoted saddle horse pulls and chariot racing at North Dakota horse events. He also began participating in team penning and team roping in earnest, winning championship saddles and plenty of buckles and ribbons.

Bendish died in 2006 and was eulogized as “the epitome of the traditional rancher who had what it took to be a real cowboy and who always wore a hat and a smile”. His widow and a son continue to operate the T Bar.

James Kusler

RANCHING MODERN ERA

James Kusler

James (Jim) Kusler was born December 10, 1947, to John and Alma Kusler of Beulah, North Dakota, where John started cattle and grain farming 8 miles south of Beulah in 1929. Jim attended a one room rural school through eighth grade graduating from Beulah High School in 1965. Jim was active in 4H and FFA. He worked on the family farm with his parents until he attended the University of North Dakota. Like many sons of farmers and ranchers, he regularly returned whenever possible to assist with the family operation.

Even when working off the farm he made the trip back to the farm working side by side with his dad to plant crops, harvest, and work cattle late into the night before driving back to his other job and doing it all over again the next day.

Jim learned from his father how to be his own mechanic on equipment that frequently broke down at the worst times. Similarly, he learned the basics of veterinary work from his dad, referencing the three vet books his dad used to learn the basics.

Jim grew interested in organic farming and raising organic beef. Over time he made the transition. Jim co-founded Brush Creek Organic Foods and established the Brush Creek Certified Organic Beef label, the first in North Dakota. While farming, Jim became CEO and General Manager of Prairie Organic, recruiting other organic growers and marketing organic commodities.

Jim increased the size of the operations by purchasing more land and increasing his cattle herd. Concerned about the impact large cattle herds would have on Brush Creek he built a feedlot with a drainage pool collecting the runoff.

Jim was a skilled horseman and rode until shortly before his death. One of his greatest pleasures was to take a pack horse, a couple of friends and ride and camp in the Badlands.

Remaining involved in the community, Jim co-hosted the weekly Friday Night Live talk show in Beulah for 13 years and wrote a monthly newspaper column for the Beulah Beacon for 8 years.

Jim continued farming though 2013, after which he rented out much of the land while continuing to run smaller cattle herds. He then made the daily commute from the cattle operation to Killdeer for four years working for CHS and Western Choice Cooperative as a certified energy specialist. Jim became the number one US sales specialist for diesel fuel and propane sales for two consecutive years. When asked how he was able to accomplish this he said, “It took me two weeks to learn that if you listen more, you sell more.”

Jim brought to life his vision of preserving the old small farmhouse his parents built. Working with a friend and architect they designed a house Jim built which beautifully incorporated the original home into the new, allowing the past to live on into the future.

Froelich Ranch

RANCHES

Froehlich Ranch
Matt J. and Katherine (Fitterer) Froelich started the original Froelich ranch in Sioux County (on the Standing Rock Reservation) in 1928. Matt was born September 4, 1981, at Speier, Russia, but was of German descent. Matt immigrated to the United States and arrived in Mandan, ND, on June 9, 1910. Five children were born to this union with a son & daughter dying in infancy. Mike Froelich was born on in 1915, Matt (M.W.) Froelich in 1918, and John J. Froelich in 1920. Matt sold his interest in the ranch to his son, John J. Froelich in 1957. John married Barbara on November 3, 1945. John and Barbara have seven children: Warren (1945), Terry (1947), Rodney (1949), Gayle (1953), Kurt (1961), Kay (1963), and Kelly (1966). The ranch has grown over the years but is still owned by descendants of Matt J. Froelich. John J. Froelich had a great affection for horses but the draft type he was raising did not have speed or versatility to his liking, so he exposed a U.S. remount stallion to his remaining draft-type mares. Soon after, he heard about the Quarter Horse, which offered more speed and quickness. In the late 1940’s he purchased a palomino stallion, WR’s Commanche Boy, a grandson of Old Man by Old Sorrel (the foundation sire of the King Ranch Quarter Horse breeding program and an early inductee into the AQHA Hall of Fame). John then purchased three mares, which began a breeding program that developed beyond his wildest dreams. As years passed, John purchased sons of King Trumpet x Cotton Mac’s Star, Blackburn 90, and Tuffernhel. John also leased a son of Smutty Bill from Harold Schafer. In 2009, the Froelich program was recognized as an AQHA Legacy Breeder for registering at least one foal for 50 consecutive years. In the fall of 2010, AQHA recognized it as the first AQHA Heritage Ranching Breeder in North Dakota and, in 2023, John was inducted into the North Dakota American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. The Froelich Ranch is also known for its sustainable cattle operation, producing highly sought-after feeder cattle with attention to genetics and nutrition. The Cannonball River snakes through one end of the ranch, and the Pamplin Hills give a rugged beauty to the original homestead. Over the years, Froelich Ranch expanded its land mass and operation. A large horse-training barn allows the family to host special horse training clinics and a feedlot allows the family autonomy when marketing cattle. Within all the history of ranching, horses, cattle, and raising families in North Dakota, one overall philosophy has prevailed: breed livestock that the family loves and protect the land for future generations.

Patterson Land & Cattle

RANCHES

Patterson Land and Cattle
The Patterson Land Company was formed in 1905, when Eugene L Patterson from Mankato, MN purchased more than a million acres of land from the Northern Pacific Railroad, between Bismarck and Jamestown. Patterson began selling land in 1905 and continued to do so until 1939. His sales and ranch manager was Mankato Business College graduate, George A. Duemeland, who became a partner in 1910. Sales were good for many years but then, the dustbowl/depression years brought an end to the glory days of quick and easy land sales on the northern plains. By the end of the 1930s, Patterson was ready to call it “quits”. In 1939, he sold all of his remaining North Dakota holdings to Duemeland, and full use of the name “Patterson Land Company”. Duemeland eventually organized the PLC into three divisions. The “North” ranch, which had been established in 1919, was located six miles north of Wing. The “South” ranch, established in 1927, was located about twelve miles southwest of Sterling. The third operation, called the “Pettibone Ranch”, was located just west of Pettibone, ND. Later, in the 1960s and 70s the Co. also operated a feedlot near Bismarck. The three ranches that made up the Patterson Land Company were not only large operations with as many as 16 to 18 people on the payroll at each ranch, they were also very innovative. As early as 1940, each of the three ranches had its own airfield. Years later, they were almost certainly

Virgil Joseph Hertz

LEADERS OF RANCH & RODEO

Virgil Hert
Virgil Joseph Hertz was born March 25th, 1937, in New Leipzig, ND. When he was five, his father bought a ranch east of Carson. It is on this ranch that Virgil grew to manhood and began his life as a rancher and rodeo athlete. Virgil’s love of horses led him to his interest in cattle and rodeo. He built a herd of cattle and horses and eventually took over the family ranch. Virgil competed in rodeo from 1954 until 1970. He competed in many rodeos across several states. His favorite event was saddle bronc, but he also competed in steer wrestling, bull riding, and bareback riding. Beyond the sport of rodeo, Virgil was also a Golden Glove boxer, under the supervision of Butch Luger of Ft. Yates. After Virgil stopped competing in rodeo, he judged rodeos. His most memorable was the Prison Rodeo held at the State Penitentiary in Bismarck, ND. When the 1973 Grant County Rodeo was not going to happen, Virgil took on the task with the help of family and friends and put on a fine rodeo. Virgil also spearheaded the much-needed renovation of the Carson Rodeo Arena. The all-steel arena can still be enjoyed every 3rd weekend in August in Carson. In 1986, Virgil was appointed a ND brand inspector. He has cleared out thousands of head of cattle and is still inspecting today. Virgil laughed and cried through the ups and downs of life. He knew the joys of raising a family and selling fantastic calf crops. He cried at his daughters’ weddings and at the loss of 3 grandchildren. Even at the age of 82, gazing at a pen of cattle brought him pride, and the birth of a new foal made him feel 25 again. Virgil Hertz passed away September 17, 2023. He was a very successful rancher, well respected in the industry. He loved the life of a rancher and cherished his rodeo days. These experiences molded him in his early days and into the man he became.

Bonita Laske

LEADERS OF RANCH & RODEO

Bonita Laske
It started when Bonita was a little girl, riding in grand entries at the Bohnsack Rodeos and helping her mother start a cow herd. Bonita soon found the horse of her dreams, a mare with combined speed and agility. Before graduating high school, Bonita lost her mother to cancer. She focused on her education, rodeo and the ranch. This is what her mother would have wanted. She also had faith and many good people in her life. At North Dakota State University she majored in home economics and was on the rodeo team. Bonita was crowned Miss Rodeo North Dakota, was the NDRA Champion Barrel Racer and was 2nd runner up in the Miss Rodeo America contest, all in 1964. Bonita worked at the National Livestock and Meat Board in Chicago. Her role included educating consumers about beef on television, radio, and live programs around the country. Bonita married Lynn Laske, who she grew up with. They moved to Oklahoma where he worked in the western industry, first for Tony Lama Boots and then Justin. They took an active role hosting and entertaining friends, rodeo fans and contestants during the National Finals in Oklahoma City. Lynn helped with multiple hospitality events through local western stores and Bonita served as a chaperone for the Miss Rodeo America contest. In 1976, their daughter Lydia was born. As a family they were raising, riding, and showing horses. They focused mainly on cutting. Bonita was a cutting finalist at the 2011 AQHA Select World Show. Lynn and Bonita also competed in cuttings held at the Bohnsack. In August 2023, the NDCHA held a show there after 40 years, in memory of Don Taylor, and the family attended. One of their horses, Clarks Hill Billie, placed 3rd in the 1985 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity. After breeding him, Lydia won reserve amateur champion on one of his daughters, Bet on Hill Billie, in the 1996 NCHA Futurity.

Brad Brettin

RODEO ARENA

Bradley Brettin
Bradley Brettin grew up on a farm/ranch/feedlot outside Beach, North Dakota, with his dad (Cordie), mom (Sharon), brother (Curtis), and sister (Chilton). Brettin got the rodeo stock bug when he attended the Champions Ride at Home on the Range and later had stock in the Champions Ride match. Brettin grew up around Bob Aber, top PRCA stock contractor from Beach. At the age of sixteen, Brettin purchased two Scottish Highlander bucking bulls from Bob for their practice bulls. Their names were Master Jim and Charlie Brown. Brettin would haul them to Beach in a 1950 one-ton truck owned by his grandpa John and practice with friends. Right after college, Brettin started purchasing ten to twelve colts a year from the PMU sale in Killarney, Manitoba (1982-1985). A beautiful black and white stud colt was purchased in the fall of 1983 and later became known as War Paint. Brettin purchased bucking mares from Bob Aber in 1982 and, in the next few years, from Marvin Brookman. Marvin bred eleven mares to War Paint in 1986, resulting in many good bucking horses with four colts from that batch being selected to the NFR – Billy Boy, Hawk, Johnny Smoker, and Red Cloud. There was a stud called Medicine Man too. Brettin produced up to fifteen rodeos and a few bull ridings a year in North Dakota, South Dakota, and eastern Montana. Brettin was the NDRA President from 1990-1995. Brettin started taking his best bucking horses, raised mostly by War Paint (except for a couple colts), to the Benny Binion NFR sale starting in 1992 with his saddle bronc, White River. She was in a bunch of colts purchased from Don Hight. She was named “Saddle Bronc of the Year” in the NDRA, NRCA, and SDRA. White River was the High Selling Saddle Bronc at the 1992 NFR sale. Brettin went on to win the High Selling Saddle Bronc at the NFR sale in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002 for a total of eight times – a record that still stands today. In 2002, Brettin sold his famous stallion War Paint at the NFR sale. War Paint went to Bud Kerby from Bar T Rodeo who raised seven NFR horses by War Paint. One called Fancy Pants was named the 2010 “Best Saddle Bronc” at the NFR. For his bucking bull program, Brettin crossed Plummer-bred bulls with Don Hight cows. Brettin raised 50 Hammer Time that he sold at the 1998 NFR sale to Bad Company Rodeo and that bull won many awards in the PRCA, NFR, and PBR. Brettin was a featured on-screen historian in the 2023 documentary, “Feek’s Vision”, lending credibility with his knowledge and expertise in bucking horse breeding. Brettin and his daughter, Jennie, and son, Jorrie, enjoyed going to the rodeos and watching the horses and bulls buck. Brettin has met many people in the rodeo business and really enjoyed the interactions, especially the riding events with the cowboys asking beforehand about the stock’s bucking patterns and afterwards talking about how the cowboys and stock did. Bradley used to say he brought the excitement to the rodeos – his bucking horses and bulls! He and wife, Deb, still raise bucking horses today.

Jim Thompson

RODEO ARENA

Jim Thompson
Jim was born September 19. 1947 in Bowman, North Dakota. To Paul and Stella (Burt) Thompson. He grew up in Oregon from 1951-1960 as his dad ranched in Baker, La Grande, and North Powder. During that time Jim was active in 4-H showing the grand champion steer at the Union County Fair twice. The Thompsons moved back to the Dakotas in 1962 where Jim started High School in Bowman, and then moved and graduated from Sturgis High School in South Dakota, in 1965. Jim attended, and graduated from, Brown Institute of Broadcasting in Minneapolis in 1966. He started his radio career at KVSH Valentine, Nebraska, then moved to KBHB in Sturgis. Jim went into the US Army in 1968, serving at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver as an MP. He then went to Korea where he served on Armed Forces Radio Network in Seoul until May 1970. Jim has worked at radio stations in Sturgis, Pierre, and Watertown, SD and in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He is a past chairman of the SD broadcasters and Watertown Chamber of Commerce. Jim is a lifetime member of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, having announced rodeos from 1976-2023. He announced the first ever Circuit Finals rodeo in the PRCA in Deadwood. He has also announced the National High School Finals, the College National Finals, the Senior Pro finals, and the Indian National Finals. Jim was on the announcing team at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 1986. Most recently Jim has been chosen 7 times as the announcer for the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping in Torrington, Wyoming, when the committee referred to him as “The Voice of the Steer Roping Finals”. Jim was involved in Dale Carnegie training as a student and instructor in both sales and management training. He owned and managed Creative Broadcast Services, Inc., in Spearfish, SD, from 1998 until his retirement in January of 2023. CBSi produced a daily talk radio show which aired in 5 states over nearly 20 years. Jim still writes a newspaper column called “The Good Stuff” in weekly papers in Belle Fourche, Pierre and DeSmet, SD. His radio show of the same name, “The Good Stuff”, aired on two dozen stations in a five state area for 15 years, and his rodeo program “On the Road Again” was broadcast on a network of stations for 46 years. Jim has been inducted into the Casey Tibbs SD Rodeo Hall of Fame, the SD Sports Hall of Fame and the Black Hills Stock Show Hall of Fame. He was voted the Sportscaster of the year in SD 3 times 1975. 1978 and 1979. Jim was elected to two terms in the SD State Senate in the mid 1990s, representing District 5 in Watertown. In 2017, the SD Broadcasters honored him with their Tom Brokaw Award for an excellent career. His brothers Rick and Mark both reside in Dickinson, ND. His brother Steve died in Williston in 2015. Jim and his wife, Sherry, live in Sturgis, SD. Between them they have 5 children, 17 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

Moonstruck

RODEO LIVESTOCK

Moonstruck
As great as Moonstruck was as a bucking horse, his real legacy is in his offspring. Harry Vold told Jim Mosbrucker that Moonstruck was the greatest bucking stud he had ever seen. Moonstruck sired many award- winning NFR horses. One would be hard-pressed to find another stud that has produced as many NFR finals horses and award-winning bucking horses as Moonstruck. Moonstruck offspring include #333 Awesome Moon, #108 Moonblast, #419 Speckled Moon, #233 Perfect Moon, #256 Moon Socks, #146 Marvelous Moon, and #67 Tuff Moon, and #34 Silver Moon to name some of the best. Taos Muncey won a round at the NFR to help him win his first world title on #34 Silver Moon. NFR qualifiers that come out of Moonstruck mares were #04 Paper and Fire and #305 Magic Wars. Will Lowe held the NFR high point ride of 91.5 points for 10 years on Magic Wars. Magic Wars was selected as NFR Bareback Horse of the Finals in 2007. Magic Wars went to the NFR in both bareback and saddle bronc for 12 years. There are other great NFR horses out of Moonstruck offspring: #-746 Young Gun, #405 War and Peace, #261 War Eagle, #461 War Eagle, #326 Little Hawk, #-426 Red Cloud, and #701 Freckles.

Why Not Minot

RODEO LIVESTOCK

Why Not Minot

Born in 1993, #311 Why Not Minot was raised by Wayne Eckroth of Flasher, ND. Originally named #311Paranoid, #311 was a NORA Finals qualifier as a 3-year-old. In 1997, he was the Rough Rider Association Bull of the Year and the NORA Co-Bull of the Year.

Harry Vold of the Vold Rodeo Company purchased #311 and renamed him Why Not Minot. The name originated with an idea by Ken Anderson of the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo. The Minot Y’s Men were looking for a way to promote Minot nationally, since many Minot businesses had been longtime supporters of their rodeo. Ken Anderson approached Harry Vold, who liked the idea of naming a bull Why Not Minot. The Minot Y’s Men, either personally or through their businesses, raised $5,000 toward the price of a quality bull and contributed the money to Harry Vold.

311 Why Not Minot was bucked throughout the US and Canada. Each time he was bucked, Why Not Minot was promoting Minot, ND.
A qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001, #311 Why Not Minot was a fair but difficult ride who scored a lot of points. A few of his more memorable trips:

  • 1999 Cheyenne Frontier Days – Brian Herman and #311tied the arena record with a 94- point bull ride.
  • 2002 DNCFR, Pocatello, ID – Mike Moore rode #311 for 91 points.
  • 2001 PBR event at Colorado Springs – Gilbert Carillo rode #311 for 92 points.
  • 2000 NFR 7th Round- Lee Akin and #311 combined for 88 points.
  • 1998 NFR pt Round – Tony Mendes scored 85 points, ½ point behind winning ride
  • Other PBR events – 2001 Norman Curry 90.5 points, 2002 Justin McBride 88 points, 2002 Mike Collins 88.5 points

#311 Why Not Minot will always be remembered as being one of the biggest hearted bulls in rodeo. There was no denying that come rain or shine, thousands of miles underneath him, you could still count on him bucking. Harry Vold said that #311 Why Not Minot was possibly the best bull he ever hauled.

Ernest Guimont

RODEO PRE 1970s

Ernest Guimont

Ernest Guimont was born on September 7, 1904, in Dayton, Minnesota. In 1910,. he moved by boxcar with his parents to North Dakota where his family homesteaded near the Killdeer Mountains and the badlands of North Dakota.

Ernest started his career working for his dad on the homestead. In 1922, at age 18, he rode on horseback to get his first job, breaking horses, at the Joe Stroud horse ranch near Cartwright, North Dakota.

During his first job on the horse ranch, he begin his rodeo career, which spanned from around 1924 to 1940. He competed in the bareback, saddle bronc, and bulldogging events, winning locally, and became part of a Wild West show competing in rodeos across the US.

Ernest is featured in the book of pioneers, Fifty Years in the Saddle, and was photographed for a circulated post card from the Van Hook rodeo in 1937. A picture of Ernest was used, depicting a bronc rider, for the promotion of the Madison Square Garden rodeo.

Throughout his lifetime, Ernest worked for numerous ranchers, including The Big Lease on the Fort Berthold Reservation, working cattle and breaking horses. He competed in rodeos during the summer and trapped wild game in the winter in the badlands and on the Little Missouri River in North Dakota. He was employed, as a trapper, on the Assiniboine River, by the Hudson Bay Company in Manitoba, Canada.

Ernest took over the family homestead and after his rodeo career ended, he sold the homestead to start E.G. Guimont Artesian Pump Well Drilling, beginning around 1946.

Ernest continued trapping into his later years in life and taught others how to trap and skin furs. He is best described as being “quite the character” by those who knew him. He married Marie Johnsen in 1951 and they resided in Killdeer, North Dakota, until his passing, in 1982, at the age of 77.

Ken Neuens

RODEO PRE 1970s

Ken Neuens

Ken “Kenny” Neuens was born February 16th, 1942, in Dickinson, ND, to Walt and Evelyn Neuens. He spent the first five years of his life on the home ranch 17 miles north of Medora. After a devastating flood, Ken and family moved to Bismarck. At the age of 13, Ken and Sparky Trotter had a matched roping at the 1956 Dickinson Match of Champions. In 1958, Ken won the bulldogging competition at the first ever Killdeer High School Rodeo. This began a rodeoing career that followed Ken across the continent.

Ken rodeoed for Oklahoma State University and the University of Arizona while completing a B.S. in Agriculture Economics. Ken competed in many NIRA rodeos during this time, winning the all-around at ASU in 1964, the all-around at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1964, and was the West Coast Region Bulldogging Champion in 1967.

Ken competed in RCA rodeos in tandem with the NIRA competitions. His notable bulldogging wins include Buckeye, AZ 1963, Lethbridge, Alberta 1964, Helena, MT 1964, Medicine Hat, Alberta 1965, Wolf Point, MT 1966, and Lewistown, MT 1967. His calf roping wins include Sidney, MT 1966, Mandan, ND 1967, Killdeer, ND 1967, and Bengough, Manitoba 1968. Ken’s all-around wins include Oral Zumwalt K.O. Ranch Rodeo in 1966, Red Lodge, MT 1967, and Medicine Hat, Alberta 1969.

Ken’s passion for horses led him to pursue Veterinary School at Oklahoma State University, where he was named the outstanding graduating senior in 1972. During Vet School, Ken married Christi Sand of Bismarck, ND. Ken and family moved to Colorado where he interned at a large horse practice before beginning his own private equine practice in 1973. Ken practiced for 41 years, continuing to rope and ride while also raising two daughters, Sarah and Kelly.

In retirement, Ken and Christi built a cabin in the Killdeer Mountains where they spend their summers. They have enjoyed a good life and continue to cherish family, horses, friends, and God. North Dakota continues to be where they feel most connected to God’s creation and the blessings of their life.

Peggy Ward

RODEO MODERN ERA

Peggy Ward

Peggy was raised on a cattle and horse ranch on the Standing Rock Reservation north of Timber Lake, South Dakota. At an early age, Peggy loved horses and knew she wanted to train them to rodeo. Her dad, Ken Ward, gave her “Nubbins” to train for barrel racing. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, Peggy and Nubbins entered many saddle club field day and 4-H rodeos. Together they won numerous ribbons and trophies. Peggy then trained “Shelly” for barrel racing of which she won numerous times in saddle club, 4-H, little britches, and high school rodeos. In 1966, Peggy won the senior all-around cowgirl trophy at the little britches rodeo in Mobridge, South Dakota. In 1967, she grabbed another all-around cowgirl title, in addition to winning the Queen contest in Clark, South Dakota. Peggy wasn’t just a barrel racer as she also participated in breakaway and goat tying.

Peggy graduated high school in 1967 and attended college in Denver, Colorado. After, graduation she lived, worked, and later started a family in Fort Yates, ND. In the early 1980s, she continued her rodeo career when she purchased a white horse named “Cotton”. Peggy trained Cotton and together became an exceptional team winning the NDRA barrel racing championship for 4 consecutive years. In addition to becoming the NDRA champion in 1982, she was also the GPIRA champ and the International Indian Assembly Rodeo barrel racing champion in Saskatchewan, Canada. The next year, Peggy was the NDRA barrel racing champ and Cotton was awarded horse of the year. Not only did the pair bring home the NDRA champ in 1983 but she was also the GPIRA champion that year. The following two years, Peggy and Cotton continued their NDRA winning streak of which Peggy is believed to hold the record for most consecutive barrel racing wins for the state of North Dakota.

Peggy, now retired and living in Arizona, enjoys sitting in the grandstands at rodeos and other western events. She often gives reports and status updates on what cowboy or cowgirl she got to see ride or meet. It is clear her love of horses still holds a special place in her heart, and she will forever be a champ in the rodeo arena.

Duane Meester

RODEO MODERN ERA

Duane Meester

Duane Eugene Meester was born on July 17th, 1949, to Accey and Esther Meester. He grew up on a farm in southern Nebraska at Spring Ranch. His mother was a teacher and his father worked on the farm.

Duane went to school in Fairfield, Harvard, and junior and senior year in Sutton NE., where he graduated.

Duane was later recruited by Buzz Denair from Valentine, NE, Sandhill’s athletic team boxing coach and PRCA judge. Duane boxed for that team and went on to box for other teams with a final record of 49 wins and 6 losses as a heavy weight. He was also Golden Gloves champion, Scottsbluff regional division, in 1970, 71 and 75. One of the Sandhill’s boxers, Duane Parker, got Duane interested in the steer wrestling. Thus started his rodeo years.

Duane moved to ND in 1976. He married his wife Becky in 1977.

He attended a steer wrestling school in Minot, ND, put on by Sonny Ehr and Frank Shepherdson. This was the turning point in his steer wrestling career. He was thankful for their help and knowledge of the sport.

In the NDRA, Duane was SW state champion in 1981, ‘82, ‘83, reserve in ‘84, champion ‘85 and ‘86 and finals champion in ‘86. His good horse, Sam, was nominated super horse of the year in 1984 and ‘85. Duane was NDRA SW director for 5 yrs. 1979-83, vice-president 1984-85, and president in 1986.

In the Rough Rider Association, Duane was reserve champion steer wrestler 1982, champion in ‘83 and ‘85 and won the all­ around in ‘85.

In Manitoba, Canada, he was champion steer wrestler and finals champion 1985.

In the WY Rodeo Association, he was state champion and finals champion steer wrestler in 1991.

Duane attributes his success to all the fantastic hazers he had, and claims one of the best was his wife, Becky, who hazed for him and several other steer wrestlers.

Duane worked for Matador Service as a truck driver, gauger, dispatcher, and field rep. He later was employed by North Winds Const. as a field rep.

Duane and Becky have two children, and in the fall of 1986, he moved his family back to his home place in Spring Ranch, NE. He worked there as a feedlot cowboy. Duane built an arena on their place, and he helped several young guys get started in the steer wrestling and team roping. His son went on to win the NHSR state champion SW in 2002.

In 1995, Duane was in a bad horse accident which left him with a broken hip, pubic bone and back. It took him a few years to fully recover but was able to haze for his son at the HS Nationals in Farmington, NM, in 2002.

Duane signed up for saddle making school in Savanna, Missouri, in 1997. His teacher was PRCA cowboy Ken Bledsoe.

He and his wife later moved back to ND in 2007 through 2015, and now reside on their son’s ranch in the Sandhills of NE, south of Ashby. They both help on the ranch and work in their leather shop.

They have five precious grandkids, ages 4 through 10, who they love spending time with.

Shaun Stroh

RODEO MODERN ERA

Shaun Stroh

Born in Dickinson, ND in 1972, Shaun made his way back home in 2003 and has called Dickinson home ever since. Shaun’s rodeo career began in 1991, his senior year of high school. That year, he won the High School Finals and he’s never looked back. Shaun was educated in Glendive, MT and Dickinson, ND and was fortunate enough to be able to college rodeo while attending both schools. While attending DSU, he brought back to DSU the coveted College National Champion title. 

Weeks after graduation, Shaun and his wife Shannon moved to Amidon, ND, for several years to manage the HT Ranch, operated by Paul Herauf. This was the perfect opportunity for Shaun to rodeo, Shannon was able to stay at the ranch to make sure work got done. While living at the ranch, Boyd Jacob and Qwinton Tate were born. In 2000, the Strohs moved to Glendive to allow Shannon to pursue her college degrees. 

Shaun worked for CHI, under the direction of Wayne Herman for 3 years. In 2002 Kain Anthony joined the family. Shaun continued to rodeo part time while working. In 2003, the family moved to Dickinson, ND, to continue Shannon’s education. 2004 was Shaun’s first qualifying year for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and would be the first of 5 qualifications.

In 2006, Regi Nevaeh joined the family, two weeks after Shannon graduated from DSU’s nursing program and in 2007, Shane William completed their family. 2009 Shaun made history at the WNFR, being the 4th bronc rider from North Dakota to win the average title. Other bronc riders include Jim Tescher, Alvin Nelson and Brad Gjermundson. 

Shaun’s final year at the WNFR was 2010. In 2011, two hip surgeries helped Shaun decide that coaching kids would be more beneficial. Shaun has toured the United States, following his own boys’ National Rodeo finals and putting on safety and rodeo clinics. Bronc schools keep him busy, and he enjoys helping with Rodeo Bible Camps in Montana and North Dakota. Shaun and Shannon currently have 4 granddaughters and a grandson is due in March of 2024.

Shaun took on a position of pipeline operator for Oneok, and has been there for 4.5 years. The boys are hitting the rodeo trail, and you’ll find Shaun and Shannon there cheering on their boys when possible.

“Just remember to keep the Lord first, and that family structure-keep the relationship healthy with your wife and the rodeoing will be there. And if you keep it in that order, your wife will be there too.”

-Shaun Stroh

Stuart Ternes

RODEO MODERN ERA

Stuart Ternes
Stuart Ternes was born on April 17, 1958, to Victor and Mary Ternes. He was raised with three brothers; Farley, Flint, and Tracy north of Raleigh, ND near the Dogtooth Hills. In a pinch one evening as a baby, he was bottle fed mare’s milk. Stu won championships at multiple levels; College, NDRA, NPRA, and PRCA. He attributes some of his balance and success with rodeo to the hours spent as a kid riding a tricky little pony. Stu began competing in youth, Little Britches, and 4-H rodeos at age 10. Known primarily as a bull rider, Stu was an All Around cowboy, having competed at one time or another in every rodeo event except steer wrestling. This “bull rider” won the calf roping at the Bowman High School rodeo, twice. Stu qualified for the North Dakota and National High School Finals Rodeos. Bull riding practice sessions were on going, hanging out with Fred and Chad Berger. Joe Berger Rodeo Bulls provided many opportunities to get on practice bulls. In college, Stu began to focus on Bareback and Bull Riding. Stu won the All Around at several college rodeos, including the Bison Stampede, in 1978, when he won both the bareback and bull riding events. In 1979, he won the Great Plains Intercollegiate Bull Riding Championship, qualifying for the College National Finals. Stu won Bull Riding and Bareback Championships and two All Around Championships in the NDRA. He was an NDRA Runner-up four times as well. Stu won a Bull Riding Championship in the NPRA; and at the peak of his rodeo career, qualified seven times for the PRCA Badlands Circuit Finals. Stu won the Badlands Circuit Finals twice and, in 1984, won the year end Badlands Circuit Bull Riding Championship. He was Runner-up in 1986, and qualified for the 1987 Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. Stu worked 40+ years for Farm Credit Services, retiring as Chief Credit Officer in 2022. He was committed to helping young and beginning farmers and ranchers get a start in agriculture. Stu was influential in Farm Credit Services support of rodeo at all levels. Stu and Tammy (Deschamp) were married on November 14, 1986. They raised three children, Hatti, Jess, and Lexi. They own a ranch south of Mercer, ND and run 400 yearling steers on pasture. 2x qualifier for National High School Finals 1978 NDRA Bull Riding Champion and 1978 NDRA All Around Champion 1979 Great Plains Intercollegiate Bull Riding Champion and NIRA Finals Qualifier 1980 NDRA Bareback Champion, 1980 Bull Riding and All Around Runner Up 1980 NDRA Finals Bareback Champion and All Around Champion 1981 NDRA All Around Champion and Bareback Runner Up 1981 Match of Champions Bareback Champion 7x qualifier for the PRCA Badlands Circuit Finals 1984 PRCA Badlands Circuit Bull Riding Champion 1984 and 1985 Badlands Circuit Finals Bull Riding Champion 1986 Badlands Circuit Bull Riding Runner-up 1987 Dodge National Circuit Finals Qualifier 1988 NPRA Bull Riding Champion 1989 NDRA Bareback Runner Up