Shawn Davis and Martha Josey headline the list of inductees into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame, selected by the Rodeo Historical Society Board of Directors. The annual induction was held at a ceremony during Rodeo Weekend, Sept. 23-24, 2011, in Oklahoma City. Also honored were recipients of the Tad Lucas and Ben Johnson Memorial Awards.
“Induction into the Rodeo Hall of Fame is one of the top honors to be bestowed upon a rodeo cowboy or performer,” said Pam Minick, president of the Rodeo Historical Society.
In addition to Davis and Josey, Sonny Linger and Lyle Sankey were among the living honorees. Honored posthumously were Albert “Bobbie” Christensen, Don Happy, Roy Lewis and Col. W.T. Johnson.
Davis is a three-time world champion saddle bronc rider and longtime producer of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Josey is a NBHA, WPRA and AQHA champion barrel racer and her clinics became mandatory attendance for aspiring barrel racers.
Spin To Win Rodeo’s own Kendra Santos received the Tad Lucas Award—given to an outstanding woman in the sport of rodeo. Walt Garrison was presented with the Ben Johnson Memorial Award, and Lewis Feild was honored for his achievement as the 1985-87 PRCA World All-Around Cowboy.
Shawn Davis- In his 50 years, Davis has done it all from competing to producing to coaching. He won his first saddle bronc riding world championship in 1965, just a year out of college, and won the title again in 1967 and 1968. In large part due to Davis, the National Finals Rodeo moved from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas, where it grew substantially in size and purse. He has been the general manager since the relocation in 1986 and oversees approximately 1,000 employees each year.
Martha Josey- With 45 years of professional experience and numerous titles under her belt, rodeo legend Josey continues riding barrel horses. Starting her career in 1964, she won seven horse trailers and 52 consecutive barrel races. In 1968, she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) for the first time. It was an accomplishment she achieved many times.
Howard “Sonny” Linger- Linger knows rodeo from both sides of the arena fence. He was a bareback and saddle bronc rider, bull rider and steer wrestler from 1947 through 1961. His expertise as a Livestock Superintendent at the NFR, starting in 1985 until retirement and his experience livestock producer, chute boss and an official PRCA rodeo judge, gave him knowledge in every aspect of rodeo.
Lyle Sankey- During his 30 years as a contestant, judge and mentor, Sankey has made a great impact on rodeo. He qualified for the NFR in all three rough stock events in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding and was a two-time average winner in bareback riding. Over the years, he shifted his focus from competitive riding to teaching and founded the Sankey Rodeo School in his current hometown of Branson, Mo. Today, he travels from state to state putting on 35 schools a year.
Albert “Bobbie” Christensen- In 1936 the Christensen Brothers Rodeo became an official business. Christensen worked with livestock and served as a pickup man while his brother, Hank, acted as the front man for the rodeo company providing top quality stock for 40 years. They received the first bucking horse of the year honor for War Paint in 1956. Christensen died in 2007 at the age of 94.
Don Happy- Happy began his career riding horses on his uncle’s ranch, where he became a member of the Cowboys’ Turtle Association in 1941. From the 1940s through the 1960s, he worked for various stock contractors across the country. Happy managed the J-Spear Rodeo Company’s rough stock for the first and second NFR in 1959 and 1960 in Dallas, Texas. He spent more than 45 years in motion pictures beginning his film work when Westerns were popular by working as a stunt double for many, including Ronald Reagan. Happy died in 2006 at the age of 89.
Col. W.T. Johnson- In 1928, Johnson staged his first public rodeo in San Antonio and over the next couple years, he conducted his first large-scale rodeos in Dallas, El Paso and Houston. By 1930, he was producing some of the largest rodeos in the country, including such places as New York City, Detroit and St. Louis. Johnson was soon known as the top rodeo producer in America and recognized for owning the top broncs. Having a knack for publicity, he looked for ways to make rodeo more entertaining and established the Rodeo Train for his rodeo’s personnel and stock to travel the country. Johnson died in 1943.
Roy Lewis- At 18 years old, Lewis started roping professionally and in 1937 was the first-runner-up in the calf roping world championship. Two years later he won the world calf roping title in Pendleton, Ore., marking a new record time. In 1969, Lewis produced the first rodeo held in Trenton, Neb. Additionally, he was a charter member for the Cowboys’ Turtle Association. Lewis competed until he was 70 years old. He died in 2003 at the age of 89.
Ben Johnson Memorial Award
Walt Garrison, Texas
Tad Lucas Memorial Award
Kendra Santos, California
PRCA World Champion All-Around World Cowboy
Lewis Feild, Utah