Former 1986 Cowboy of the Year, Tommy Henry passed away on Saturday, Sept. 14. You may read his full obituary on Page 9B. Please see his Cowboy of the Year nomination letters below:
One of the few legacies left from early Texas is the cowboy. I would like to nominate for Cowboy of the Year a man that has devoted his entire life to cattle and ranching.
He was born in Pleasanton in 1934 and has lived in Atascosa County all of his life. He began working with cattle at the age of six and, for the last 25 years, he has depended on ranching for a living.
He is one of the few men left that can say that, at times, he experienced life much like early cowboys did. He has stayed at campsites for a month at a time, returning to town only for fresh supplies. During these stays, he cooked over an open fire and carried his drinking water from tanks. He also had to hold cattle on horseback until cattle trucks arrived to haul them away.
He does almost all of his own ranch work, including building and mending fences. He has the ability to break horses, rope, track cattle and round up the old way.
During his years of ranching, he has spent many sleepless nights tending to his cattle. He has saved many cows and calves by his devotion. He has pulled many bogged down cattle from tanks and helped in delivering numerous calves. During the drought of the 50s, he burned pear from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. In fact, he is one of the few people that still burn pear.
The nominee for Cowboy of the Year is a quiet man who often goes unnoticed. He is married and has three children. He is also the son of former Cowboy of the Year and Hall of Fame member George Henry. In fact, he learned much of his ranching knowledge from his father and is passing much of it onto his children. His name is Tommy Henry.
Adrienne and David Bailey
We would like to nominate our father, Tommy Henry, as Cowboy of the Year. He has lived in Atascosa County all of his 47 years, living on the ranch the last 22 years, and been a cowboy all this time.
Ranching and the cattle business are his whole life. From a very early age, when he was too young to be on a horse, his Uncle Elton would haul cattle all night and, when cold, Daddy tells of keeping the bed warm for him when he would come in.
He then began coming to the ranch with George and followed in his footsteps to learn the ranching business. In this time before local auctions, at cattle working time when the trucks had to make several trips to get all the cattle to San Antonio, Daddy was there to hold the cattle until the next load, often all night.
Daddy has broken many horses as Papaw always had a large remuda. He has spent many hours training them to be good cattle working horses and still rides the worst ones to keep them in shape during cattle working. He makes the halters, leggings, and ropes and repairs the saddles to keep all of them in good condition.
During cattle working, he’s going way before dawn to get the horses up, build the fire to put on the beans and have things ready. During the roundup, he can carry any position in the cattle drive and is ready to go get any animal that breaks loose. At lunch, he opens the chuck box and puts dinner out for the men after fixing cornbread over the coals, even hauling water from the tank in a bucket and washing the tin plates and cups. “Camp” is still as in the early days as the oldtimers had it. During the cutting of the cattle, he knows exactly which calf goes to which cow and what ones are missing from the herd. He can do any of the vaccinating, branding, and still cuts the calves, having “mountain oysters” for supper.
In keeping watch on the cattle, he has trailed cattle through some of the worst brush–even to crawling on hands and knees to find an animal. Daddy never lets a fence get bad as he keeps a watch for loose wires, bad posts and torn places.
The cattle are assured of having enough feed at all times as he watches the amount of blocks, meal and salt. He knows when the cattle come to the troughs and, rather than wait until tomorrow, he gets them filled so there’ll be plenty for them. During the drought of the 50s, Daddy and one man fed around 500 cows by burning pear from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., making sure the cattle had plenty of pear to keep them full. During this period, he even had to pull bones from the cows’ throats because they often chewed on them during droughty conditions.
Today, Daddy goes to Pleasanton each day to bring Pawpaw, 90, to the ranch, manages what needs to be done, takes him back to town and then returns to the ranch, often making for a long day.
We feel Tommy Henry, our father, is a fine example of a working cowboy, always getting the job done, helping anyone who needs help, and in his quiet way, just keeps the ranching business in shape, never letting on or making anyone notice what he accomplishes or complaining.
We are proud to nominate our father as the 1982 Cowboy of the Year. We’re proud to be the children of a real cowboy.
Woode, Ruth and Ada Henry