Milestones

Olan Hightower 1935 – 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Olan Hightower, winner of the 1976 NCHA Futurity, passed away on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

Raised to agriculture in East Texas, as a youngster Hightower gravitated toward ranch work and horses. By the time he married his childhood sweetheart, Peggy, Hightower was training and showing Quarter Horses, and took up cutting in 1959, at the age of 24.

Hightower had given up full-time training and showing in the early-1970s for a landscaping business in Houston, but was lured back to competition by Bob McLeod, who had purchased a talented 3-year-old colt from longtime NCHA president and cutting horse breeder Marion Flynt. McLeod wanted Hightower to prepare Colonel Freckles, a son of Flynt’s stallion Jewel’s Leo Bars, for the NCHA Futurity.

“Terry Riddle had started him and it was the middle of April when I got him,” said Hightower of Colonel Freckles, whose dam, Christy Jay, was by Rey Jay, sire of the 1966 Futurity champion, Rey Jay’s Pete. “And we took it from there and went to the Futurity with him and got lucky.”

The Hightower’s children, Faron, Dan, Melissa, Margaret and Tina Marie, were all involved with rodeos and horse shows as youth, but it was Faron, a member of the NCHA Hall of Fame, who most closely followed his father’s path.

In an article that appeared in the October 15, 2003 issue of the Quarter Horse News, Faron told author Lana Wells: “(Daddy) taught me that the Futurity is the first event, not the last one. He always said, ‘Don’t ruin a good son-ofa-buck just to win the Futurity.”

Wells concludes her article with a quote from Olan that will resonate with his legion of friends and the hundreds of amateurs and professionals that he helped over the years.

“When I’m dead and gone, if one person will stand up and say, ‘That old man helped me,’ it’ll be worth more than hundreds of folks saying what I’ve won.”

A Celebration of Olan Hightower will be held on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 11:00 a.m., at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead, Texas.

Johnny Mac Sanders, 1946-2014

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Johnny Mac SandersJohnny Mac Sanders, 67, a popular cutting horse trainer from Canton, Mississippi, died Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson.

Visitation will be Friday, January 31 at the Wilcox Funeral Home, 106 Jordan Road, Carthage, MS 39051 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. (Phone 601-267-8081).

Services are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 1, 2014 at Freeny Baptist Church with Bro. Shannon Hall, Bro. Marcus Canoy, and Johnny Barranco officiating. Burial was in the Caldwell (Freeny) Cemetery. Wilcox Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Johnny Mac, a native of Leake County, was a member of Freeny Baptist Church. He was a member of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, and National Cutting Horse Association. He was past president of Mississippi Quarter Horse Association and Magnolia Cutting Horse Association.

He served as an AQHA judge where he judged Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Championship Show. He also was an American Paint Horse Association judge where he judged the Paint Horse World Championship Show.

He instructed at clinics in Australia and Argentina for AQHA. In 1995 Johnny Mack served on the ground breaking committee for the Kirk Fordice Equine Building and was a member of the Fairground Commission Board.

Survivors include his brother, Jim Sanders of Carthage, and sister, Mary Griffin of Barndon.

Pallbearers include: Steve Ferguson, Tom Hixon, Johnny Stewart, Meredith MCullar, David Russell, Wilson Harrell, and Tom McBeth.
Honorary Pallbearers were: Dr. John Bower, Danny Watts, Joe Johnson, Joey Carroll, and Ben Emison.

Billy Howard Ware – 1952–2014

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Billy Howard Ware passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, January 3, 2014. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, in June of 2013, and fought a courageous battle, remaining optimistic until the end.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ware was a National Cutting Horse Association director for Louisiana and successfully trained many of his own non-pro aged event finalists. It was during this time that he developed a friendship with the late Bill Freeman, who pulled on him by his friend that Ware enjoyed recalling.

One day, while they were working together, Freeman asked Ware to do him a favor and work an older horse he had in training, so that he could watch and critique the horse. Without fanfare, Freeman handed the reins of a sorrel stallion to Ware, who mounted and headed to the herd, unaware of what was about to happen. Only when the horse made his first “trademark” moves on the first cow and Ware heard the cheers and laughter from Bill and his crew did he realize he was riding the great Smart Little Lena.

Ware, a life-long resident of Rayville, Louisiana and award-winning sales manager for White Ford Lincoln in Winnsboro, La., is survived by his wife of 38 years, Sara Walters Ware, daughter Erin Ware, daughter Anna Ware Berg and son-in-law Marcus Berg, mother Billie Himel Ware, brother Jerry Ware, and mother-in-law Joy Maxie Walters.

Services will be held on Monday, January 6, 2014, at the First Baptist Church-Rayville with Dr. Eddie Wren officiating. Burial will be in the Rayville Masonic Cemetery under the direction of Mulhearn Funeral Home, Rayville.

Edd Bottom, 1925-2013

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Edd Bottom

Edd Bottom.

Edd Bottom of Asher, Oklahoma, an NCHA Members Hall of Fame inductee, passed away April 24.

Bottom began his training career in 1950 and showed his first cutting horse, an ex-roper named Grey Nellie H, at Vernon, Texas in 1954.

By the 1960s, he began breeding his own line of horses based on the foundation bloodlines of Oklahoma Star and Bert. The foundation sire of his breeding herd was Lucy Star Mac, who has produced the Lucky Bottom bloodline.

He was a finalist in the first NCHA Futurity in 1962, and he rode Lucky Bottom Me, a Lucky Star Mac daughter, to the reserve championship of the 1980 NCHA Futurity.

He raised and showed many top horses over the years. Leading up to the Legends Cutting in Temple, Texas in 1992, he said, “I spent a lot of time on the road, but had always rather been at the house. But if I hadn’t enjoyed it so much, I wouldn’t have been there.”

Visitation is Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 7 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. at Swearingen Funeral Home, Konawa, Oklahoma. (580) 925-3252. Funeral services are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Monday, April 29th at the Agri-Plex in Ada, Oklahoma under the direction of Swearingen Funeral Home.  Burial will follow at Vista Cemetery. Donnie Gee and Shannon Hall will officiate.

Pallbearers are Tony Kuestersteffen, Jim Sharp, Mason Allen, Ron Phay, Gaylon Wells, Sonny O’Dell, Jerry Bob Seago, and Junior Grissom.  Honorary Pallbearers are Gary Fry, Ham Brown, James Hargrove, John Carter, Roger Harris, Glen Pruitt, Jack Turner, C.J. Sisco, Eddie Bottom, Jr., Chad Wartchow, Mark Wartchow, Ronnie Wartchow, Steve Miles, Richard Sisco, Dan Fleming, Jason Keck, and Greg Hillerman.

He is survived by one son, Eddie Wayne Bottom and wife, Charlotte of Macomb, Oklahoma; three daughters, Darla Miles and husband, Steve of Asher, Oklahoma, Connie Wartchow and husband, Ronnie of Roff, Oklahoma, and Phyllis Sisco and husband, Richard of Asher, Oklahoma; eight grandchildren, Chad Wartchow, Mark Wartchow, Melanie Keck, Steffanie Fleming, Eddie Bottom, Jr., C.J. Sisco, Mike Sisco, and Ricky Sisco; ten great grandchildren, Sean Fleming, Shelby Fleming, Sarah Fleming, Carley Collings, Coy Wartchow, Riley Wartchow, McKenzie Wartchow, Andrew Fleming, Chelsy Bottom, and Braxten Frasier.

He and his wife, Lillie, were married 66 years until her death in 2009.

Tom Tofell, 1946 – 2012

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Thomas Stuart Tofell, 66, Millsap, Tex., passed away Friday, July 13, 2012, at Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, after a brief illness.

Visitation will be from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Tuesday, July 17, at Whites Funeral Home in Weatherford, Texas.

A memorial service will be at 11:00 am, Wednesday, July 18, in the South Texas Room in the Amon Carter Building of the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth, Texas. The service will be officiated by Joe Howard Williamson and Dr. Jim Sanders.

Tom was born January 6, 1946 in Malin, Ore., to Emil and Mildred Tofell. He is survived by Jan, his wife of 27 years; his daughter, Lisa, Weatherford, Texas; his brother and sister in law, James and Kathy, Roseburg, Ore.; brother and sister-in-law, Dan and Meralee Tofell. Klamath Falls, Ore; numerous nieces, nephews, and an abundance of friends, as Tom never met a stranger.

Tom was nationally known through his long associations with well known cutting horse horse breeders and trainers, including NCHA Futurity and World champion Leon Harrel; leading breeder Dan Lufkin and his Oxbow Ranch; Ernest Cannon, owner of World champion Jae Bar Fletch; as well as with Texas congressman Tom Loeffler.

Tom and Jan owned and operated a cutting and race horse business at their ranch in Millsap and were proud of their association with world champion cutting horses Docs Playmate, Doc N Missy, Jae Bar Fletch and Bet Hesa Cat. Tom was a Quarter Horse racing partner and long time associate of Jim Ware of Western Bloodstock auction company.

Pallbearers will be Vin Betenbough; Todd Bimat; Mike Haack; Eddie Howard; Joe Landers; Bruce Lusk; Dennis Moreland; Chris Ray DVM; Bart Tofell and Jim Ware. Honorary pallbearers will be Ernest Cannon; Leon Harrel; D. Wayne Gilbreath; Gary Halousek; Neal Halousek; Wayne Hodges; Gordon Johnson; Gary Kennell; Dan Lufkin; Robert Lewis, DVM; Bobby Nelson; Gayle Trotter, DVM; and Sam Wilson.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Tom’s honor to the National Youth Cutting Horse Association Scholarship Fund, c/o NCHA, 260 Bailey Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76107.

B.A. Hopkins, 1923-2012

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Early day cutting horse show official Burleson Arch “B.A.” Hopkins, 89, passed away peacefully on April 13, 2012.

Born in Richland Springs, Texas, Hopkins served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He attended SMU and lacked only six class hours for graduation when he went to work for B.F. Phillips, Jr. in 1948 at the Phillips Ranch in Frisco, Texas. B.A. worked for the Phillips Ranch until 2002 as an accountant and later a personal business manager.

Phillips was an NCHA Non-Pro World Champion, as well as a cornerstone of the Quarter Horse racing industry. Hopkins once said he was with Phillips when he bought his first horse, a Royal King gelding named Cadillac Dave for $1,000, and he was still with Phillips Ranch when the last horses were dispersed in a sale more than 40 years later.

Hopkins was elected secretary of the North Texas Cutting Horse Association at their organizational meeting the day after the Texas State Fair in 1953. He served in that capacity for the next quarter century, missing only one show in that time. In its early days, the North Texas Cutting Horse Association had a larger membership than the National Cutting Horse Association.

“The only thing we had was a portable PA system, a stop watch and a whistle,” Hopkins once said. “And the judge was many times selected from one of the contestants. If anyone complained too much, they’d have to judge the next class.”
In those days, Hopkins took entries, announced the show and blew the whistle.

“Sometimes you’d get distracted and forget to blow the whistle,” he recalled. “One time a visitor came by the announcer’s stand and the stop watch ran about five minutes and the contestant worked ten calves before I remembered to blow the whistle.”

Hopkins was a 60-year Mason, a 50-year member of the Scottish Rite and a 50-year Shriner, as well as a member of the Royal Order of Jesters. He was also a member of the Racing Horse Association, an announcer for the Texas State Fair for over thirty years and in the Black Horse Patrol.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty June (Vance) Hopkins, his parents and six brothers and sisters. Survived by his son, Lawrence Hopkins, daughter-in-law, Sheri, grandchildren, Zach, Lindley and Mary Kate, his brother, Davis and wife, Mary Lou, and his special friend, Zella Nixon.

Martin Briggeman, Jan. 18, 1921 – Aug. 22, 2011

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The horses are watered and the hay’s in the barn. Martin Joseph Briggeman, 90, passed away Aug. 22, 2011, in Missoula, MT, after a life well lived.

He was born Jan. 18, 1921, in Deer Lodge, MT, to Martin and Catherine (Blessinger) Briggeman and raised on the family ranch in Jens, along with siblings Bernard, Carmel (Perkins), Frances (Duff) and Don. Their families enjoyed many reunions at “the ranch” through the decades.

Martin’s passions in life were family, horses and horse people, though some of his best friends weren’t any of those. He never met a stranger, and while he suffered from a crippling childhood ailment, he didn’t see himself as impaired.

His father took Martin on a cattle roundup on the Wallace Ranch in Jens, when he was six, and Martin rode Gyp, a small roan mare, renowned for her cow savvy.

“I felt pretty big,” he remembered in later years. “When we came back, Billy Wallace paid me the same as he did Dad, and I felt real big. But Gyp was that good. All I had to do was hold onto the horn.”

Martin attended schools at Jens, Drummond and Deer Lodge, graduating from Powell County High in 1939. He had the highest exam score in the county among boys graduating from eighth grade in 1935, and led the Future Farmers of Deer Lodge to first place in the state poultry judging in 1938.

After high school Martin worked for the state extension service, testing dairy cattle for Cascade, Lewis and Clark counties. He taught Vo-Ag in Fromberg and worked at the Interstate Lumber Co. in Deer Lodge. Con Warren hired him as a herdsman at what’s now the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, but an allergy ended that job.

In 1947, Martin drove with friends to Butte for a football game. Among the group was his future wife, Dale Thompson, a first-year school teacher in Deer Lodge. They were married in Lewistown on June 25, 1949, and lived in Drummond, before Ted Farley hired Martin as foreman of the Two Creek Ranch in Ovando.

In 1957, Martin launched a long career with the State Highway Department and he and Dale made their home and raised their family at Marshall Grade, east of Missoula, for the next 50 years.

Martin was as a founding member of the Western Montana Quarter Horse Association, and served on the Bonner and Missoula County High school boards. He was also active in the Western Montana Fair, and supported his children’s 4-H activities, while working as stall superintendent for many years.

Martin is survived by Dale, his wife of 62 years; brother Don (Georgia) Briggeman of Deer Lodge; children Kathy (Sam) Milodragovich of Butte; Lynne (Stewart) Thomson of Kremmling, Colorado, Tom (Tomi) Briggeman of Kalispell; Kim (Linda) Briggeman of Missoula; Mary (Milt) Bradford of Weatherford, Texas; and grandchildren Sam (Kelly) Milodragovich; Mary Lynne Milodragovich; Pat (Liza) Thomson; Tim (Nellie) Thomson; Adrianne (Mike) Taylor; Malarie Briggeman; Kaci, Kara, Nicole and Molly Briggeman; and Garrett Bradford; as well as 5 ½ great grandchildren.

Funeral mass is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at St. Ann Catholic Church in Bonner, where Martin and Dale were long-time parishioners. Interment will take place Sept. 24 at 11 a.m. at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge, followed by a reunion of Martin’s friends and family. Memorials may be made in Martin’s name to the Bonner School Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1004, Bonner, MT 59823.

 

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