NEWTON — Shannon Hauser, the granddaughter of a rodeo legend, grew up loving to hear Gerald Robert’s stories of competing in rodeos — and what it took to not only win, but get to and from those competitions.
“He had wild stories of hitchhiking and jumping on freight trains to get from rodeo to rodeo, emergency airplane landings, Hollywood and being a cowboy stuntman, riding bulls and wild horses,” Hauser aid. “I grew up relishing stories of Granddad's life and career.
She will share some of those wild tales at 2:30 p.m. May 31 in a Prairie Talk at Pioneer Bluffs historic ranch.
The Flint Hills Rodeo, now in its 82nd year, began in the family pasture of E.C. and Clara Roberts. Beginning in the 1930s, the Roberts family frequently put on pasture rodeos in which their children rode every animal in sight.
Three of the Roberts children went on to win rodeo world championships. Gerald Roberts was a Twice All-Around World Champion Rodeo Cowboy in 1942 and 1948 and crowned the North American Calgary All-Around Champion in 1950. At the height of his career, Gerald was a stuntman in Hollywood in western films, including “Cowboy” with Jack Lemmon and Glenn Ford. In 1965, Gerald became an original inductee in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Okla. In 1990, Gerald was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Gerald is the first and only cowboy to ever be inducted into the Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kansas. On July 31, 2005, Gerald Roberts was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall Of Fame on July 31, 2005, in Dodge City.
Margie Roberts was a beautiful, awe-inspiring woman who became a nationally acclaimed trick rider and champion bareback bronc rider. At the age of 19, Margie originated the “dive” as a trick rider. She rode bareback at all the big rodeos of her day, including Cheyenne and Madison Square Garden. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at Fort Worth, Texas, in 1987 and the Kansas Cowboy Hall Of Fame in 2017.
Ken Roberts was a three-time World Champion Bull Rider in 1943, 1944 and 1945 — an idol of younger brother, Gerald. Ken credited his older sister, Margie, for leading him and Gerald into rodeo. He was an original inductee in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and an inductee in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Ken will be inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 18, 2019.
“When I think of this family and what they stood for,” Hauser said, “I am reminded of what life was like when people did business on a handshake. The Roberts family lived by their word, exuded integrity, optimism and hard work, and would give their last dollar to a fellow cowboy in need. I am proud to share the Roberts family legacy.
There is no charge for the community event. Donations are appreciated. For information, contact Executive Director Lynn Smith at email@example.com or 620-753-3484, or visit the Facebook event page.
Pioneer Bluffs is a nonprofit with a mission to preserve the ranching heritage of the Flint Hills. A National Register Historic District, Pioneer Bluffs is on Flint Hills National Scenic Byway K-177, 14 miles south of Cottonwood Falls or 1 mile north of Matfield Green.