Annual event: WCHF inducts 2022 members
The Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame (WCHF) inducted 36 members of the class of 2022 in a ceremony Sept. 24 at the Little America in Cheyenne. Inductees included a husband-and-wife cowboy team, six generations of one family and individuals from across the state.
Presentation of the cowboy induction medals was made by Gov. Mark Gordon and Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) with assistance from Miss Rodeo Wyoming Reata Cook and members of the WCHF board of directors.
Jonita Sommers of Pinedale was recognized for her work as the first ever WCHF Volunteer of the Year and the organization presented the first Cowboy Spirit Award posthumously to Chuck Larsen, who served as emcee for the program for seven years. His award was accepted by Linda Larsen.
The WCHF was formed in 2014 to recognize Wyoming cowboys. The cowboy is defined as gender neutral – there are both men and women inducted into the WCHF, shared WCHF Executive Director Candy Moulton.
“We want to preserve and perpetuate the stories and the work ethics of the Wyoming cowboy,” she shared. “And, our primary criteria to become inducted into the WCHF is that the individual has to have spent at least 45 years ‘in the saddle’ – working cattle, working livestock and really working as working cowboys.”
She noted rodeo cowboys don’t qualify on their own merit, but must have another primary cowboy role.
Over 500 people gathered in Cheyenne to honor this year’s class.
“We had a lot of fun – it was really great,” mentioned Moulton. “We had several state representatives present, including Miss Rodeo Wyoming – we’re pleased to have them because it shows we are representative of the entire state.”
The induction program has two goals. The first and primary goal is to recognize and honor the men and women being inducted, and the second goal is fundraising, she explained.
“It helps us do the things we do during the course of the year to further perpetuate and preserve the Wyoming cowboy,” she said.
Currently, WCHF is looking to fundraise for a reprint of a cowboy-based coloring book for elementary schools and make videos of the incoming class of inductees.
Independent videographer Chuck Coon, the former Wyoming Travel & Tourism Media Relations manager, works diligently to capture the stories of the inductees. On Sept. 24, nearly 300 people came together to view all of the videos.
“We’re always looking to raise funds for these video projects,” she mentioned.
The videos will be posted on the WCHF webpage at a later day and put into video drives for purchase.
There are 10 regions throughout the state, and the 23 counties in the state are divided up among these 10 regions. Roughly 75 individuals/groups were nominated for this year’s class, Moulton explained.
“Our class is a mix of both living and deceased inductees,” said Moulton. “We do it intentionally because we have a lot of cowboys in the state who have helped develop Wyoming into what it is and particularly the livestock industry who have passed away – we want to honor these important individuals.”
The WCHF is managed and directed by a board from each region, but each county committee chooses the inductees to be recognized and the state board will verify the nomination.
“The state board doesn’t make the selection, the county committees do, because the county committees know their members the best,” she said. “We try to have at least one to two members from each county inducted.”
In some cases, a county doesn’t nominate anyone or the county committee feels the nominee submitted doesn’t meet the criteria.
“We have a scoring system,” she said. “Every individual county committee member scores the nominee, and an average score is taken from all scores from the committee, and if they don’t meet the minimum requirement, they are not further considered for induction.”
“We want to keep it special and important,” she shared. “If nominees don’t score high enough, there won’t be an inductee.”
“In some cases, it can be very competitive. There were a couple of counties this year that had several inductees – there were some really high scoring individuals in these counties,” she added.
Nominations for 2023 will open up in October of this year.
“Anyone can nominate inductees,” she mentioned. “Nominators don’t have to be related to someone, they could be a friend or even help a family write their nominations.”
WCHF 2022 Class
Families, friends and community members celebrated this year’s class of 36 inductees. Region One, Crook County inductees included Maurice Williams of Beulah and the Driskill family, including Col. Jesse Lincoln Driskill, Jesse Lincoln “Link” Driskill II, John Wylie “Bud” Driskill, William Walter “Tobe” Driskill, Jesse Loring “Diddy” Driskill, Jesse Belvin “Buz” Driskill, Malcolm Franklin Driskill and Jesse Thomas “Tom” Driskill.
Charles L. Reynolds of Gillette and Rod Smith of Weston were Region One, Campbell County inductees.
Region Two, Goshen County inductees included Clyde Omar Stewart of Yoder and Wayne S. Hunter of Hawk Springs. Niobrara County’s Arthur Samuel “Artie” Joss of Keeline was also inducted.
Region Three, Albany County inductee was Philetus Rathburn of Fox Park, and Laramie County’s Wayne and Francis Peavy “Biddy” Bonham of Federal were also inducted.
From Region Four, Dennis Robert Daly of Douglas was the Converse County inductee, and Natrona County’s Dee Burtch of Alcova was also included in this year’s class.
Region Five, Johnson County inductees included Robert Borgialli, Neal Rodney Schuman and William Thomas Wagoner, all of Buffalo. Zane R. Hilman of Big Horn was Sheridan County’s inductee.
Region Six from Big Horn County included Joseph S. Bassett of Lovell and Park County’s Chris C. Renner of Meeteetse.
Region Seven, Carbon County inductees included Lua Burton Kelly of Medicine Bow and Frank E. Miller of Rawlins. From Sweetwater County, Burt Lamb of Washam and Manila, Utah and Charles Alfred Stillman-Philbrick and Elroy P. “Bronco Jim” Philbrick of Green River were inducted.
Region Eight, Fremont County inductees included Robert William Hamilton of Lander, Bob Bessey of Riverton and Clyde Woolery of Kinnear. From Hot Springs County, Ramul Dvarshkis and Larry Bentley of Thermopolis were also Region Eight inductees.
Region Nine, Uinta County inductees included John H. Hamilton and Richard H. “Dick,” both of Fort Bridger.
Region 10 rounded out this year’s class. From Sublette County, inductees included Charles Leonard Priebe of Pinedale, Milford Byron “Mike” Steele of Boulder/Pinedale, Ivan Samuel “Pete” Hoagland and Thomas Daniel O’Neil Sr., both of of Big Piney, Kent Snedicor of Daniel and Carl Philip “Red” Mathisen of Daniel/Cora.
From Region 10, Teton County, Bob Lucas and Jim Maher of Jackson were also inducted.
For more information or to make a 2023 nomination, visit wyomingcowboyhalloffame.org.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.