Tom B. Saunders IV, who passed away on February 1, 2018, at his home in Weatherford, Tex., was solidly rooted in the history of Texas, the cattle industry, and the National Cutting Horse Association. His father, Tom B. Saunders III, was a founder of the NCHA and one of the association’s first presidents.
Until her death in 2006, Jane Venita “Skeet” Calhoun, Tom B. Saunders IV’s sister, was the longest standing NCHA lifetime member (1946). Her father-in-law, H. Calhoun, succeeded Tom B. Saunders III as president of NCHA, and her husband, Jim Calhoun, who rode the 1957 NCHA World Champion King’s Pistol, served as the association’s president in the early 1970s.
Tom B. and Skeet’s great-grandfather, W.D.H. Saunders, blazed a trail from South Texas to New Orleans during the Civil War and became the first trail driver to swim a large herd across the Mississippi River. W. H. D.’s brother, George W. Saunders, sent cattle up the trail to Abilene and Dodge City in the 1870s and later helped organize the famous Trail Drivers Association.
Tom Saunders II, W.D.H.’s son, was the first cattle dealer to office in Fort Worth’s Stockyards district and in 1918, sixteen years after he opened his office, became the first rancher to deliver his cattle to the Stockyards in trucks. He also helped organize the world’s first indoor rodeo, the predecessor of the Fort Worth Livestock Show and Rodeo, held in the Fort Worth Stockyards in 1908.
It was Tom II’s son, Tom B. Saunders III, who published the first Cuttin’ Hoss Chatter, a ten-page newsletter on a mimeograph machine at his office at the Fort Worth Livestock Exchange, in 1949. “My dad and Jim (Calhoun) were devoted to preserving the history of cutting,” Skeet Calhoun said.
In addition to his ranching interests, which over the years included 60,000 acres, Tom B. Saunders IV, was a director of the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and honorary vice president and director of the South Western Exposition and Livestock Show, and devoted to the preservation of ranching heritage and the Doss Heritage Log Cabin Park in Parker county, Tex.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, February 7 at 3:30 p.m. at the First United Church in Fort Worth. Memorials may be made in the form of a contribution to the Doss Heritage Log Cabin Park.