Freedom (OK) Rodeo Old Cowhand 2011
Anyone know Harold Dean Hepner? He was this years (2011) Old Cowhand at the 74th Annual Freedom Rodeo & Old Cowhand Reunion, August 18th through the 20th, in Freedom, Oklahoma.
We received a copy of the 74th Annual Freedom Rodeo & Old Cowhand Reunion program that was held in the biggest, littlest, friendliest western town of Freedom, Woods county, Oklahoma.
Harold Dean Hepner was born during the hardest and most turbulent times in 1931 (Dust Bowl and Great Depression), in Northwest Oklahoma to Paul and Reta Hepner. It was a time when powers of Europe were about to plunge the world into a bloodiest conflict in history. Locally, beef prices was bringing between 3 and 4 cents a pound and wheat was selling for $1.05 per bushel.
Hepner's first home was northwest of Freedom on the homestead his grandfather, W. V. Pancoast began shortly after living on Indian lands. For the next 80 years Harold has seen countless changes. Harold Dean Hepner is a member of the "Greatest Generation" and was not one to seek, enjoy the spotlight as some might have read in the 74th Annual Freedom Rodeo Program.
The Freedom Rodeo program goes on to inform us that Harold's early memories of farm life include his early introduction to the cattle industry as milling cows, while trying to avoid being kicked or spilling the bucket.
Instead of the tractors and plows farmers have today, Harold remembers preparing to plow by harnessing a Percheron Draft Horse.
Harold also remembered the International tractor with lug wheels on which he later drove at the age of 8 years. Harold's entry into the cattle business came with the purchase of 3 heifers and has continued to this day.
Remember when your parents (or maybe grandparents) would tell you how they rode a horse or walked to school throughout their days? harold Hepner did just that. His grade school experiences wre spread between the Unity and West Union country schools before attending 6th grade in Freedom.
Harold attended Freedom High School where his FFA team won the Denver Livestock Show Judging Contest. harold also won the Jr. and Open show in Chicago with a steer he bred and raised. It was Harold's senior year of high school where he was the recipient of the Jr. Master Farmer award. In 1951, Harold was awarded the horn of FFA American Farmer.
Harold remembered his high school days of when he hid mice in his teacher's desk or secretly acquired cookies from the Home Ec room. Besides FFA, Harold participated in baseball, basketball and track. It was Harold's participation in the school cantata that proved to be the activity with the biggest impact. It was there that he and Jeanne Gibson, a local girl from south of the river, took notice of each other. It was this experience and bonding throughout their lives that would lead to a courtship and marriage in May, 1951, which marks their 60th anniversary.
Harold was drafted shortly after their wedding and served in the Army, which was spent on duty in US-occupied Japan as the Conflict raged in nearby Korea. It was during this time in his life that he missed a Freedom Rodeo.
When Harold returned to the States, he and Jeanne moved to South Dakota for a short time, while Oklahoma was going through a severe drought. it was the sever cold that brought the couple back home to Oklahoma, where they have stayed ever since. From a farm north of Freedom, Harold and Jeanne began farming and ranching which has prepared over the years.
Harold's wife, mate and farm/ranch "plow-girl" went back to college and earned both a Bachelors and Masters degree and taught at Freedom Schools for 22 years. Jeanne progressed to ownership of the Sage and Saddle Bed & Breakfast just north and east of Freedom. Harold and Jeanne have raised two children and proudly boast of five grandchildren and two great grandsons.
Harold's involvement without he Freedom Rodeo has ranged from spectator, participant as an aspiring calf roper, and the ob of chute man for the roping events. From his first Freedom Rodeo in 1938 to now, he has seen rickety wooden horse trailers, compared to toy's diesel trucks pulling air-conditioned trailers complete with living quarters and everything in between.
As stated by Harold and Jeanne's son, Lyndon Hepner, in the Freedom Rodeo Program, Lyndon finishes with, "From the Dirty Thirties to a New Millennium, Harold Dean has remained a constant tribute to the lifestyle that includes the Cowboy traits of honesty, modesty, common horse sense, frugality, and good old-fashioned hard work. He doesn't always say a lot of words but his actions that speak louder show that his life expresses what makes him this year's Honored Old Cowhand of 2011."
View/Write Comments (count 0)
updates (0 subscribers) |
Create Your Badge