GRAND CANYON COWBOY, by S. Omar Barker

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GRAND CANYON COWBOY
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

I’d heard of the Canyon (the old cowboy said)
And I figured I’d like to go see it.
So I rode till I sighted a rim out ahead,
And reckoned that this place might be it.

I anchored my horse to a juniper limb
And crawled to the edge for a peek.
One look was a plenty to make my head swim.
And all of my innards felt weak.

If I’d known how durned deep it was going to be,
I’d have managed, by some hook or crook,
To tie my ownself to the doggoned tree
And let my horse go take the look!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar
Barker from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West, 1958

S.Omar Barker’s poem was a favorite poem of two popular poets who are sorely missed: Rusty McCall, 1986-2013, son of Deanna Dickinson McCall and David McCall; and Colen Sweeten, 1919-2007.

We are lucky to have Rusty McCall’s recitation on last year’s MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, a double CD celebrating S. Omar Barker’s poetry, with over 60 poems from many of today’s top poets and reciters.

Andy Hedges recites “Grand Canyon Cowboy on his COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast with Ross Knox, Episode 3. Episode 43, devoted to S. Omar Barker, includes an interview with the late Georgia Snead, Barker’s grandniece and a devoted friend to cowboy poetry, who tells great stories about Barker and his wife Elsa. Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell reminisces about his introduction to Barker, the quality of his poetry, and his conversations with the poet.

S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB” (but Andy Hedges tells that it never really did become his brand, and that explanation is included on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO).

Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This c.1903 photo, titled “Descending Grand View Trail – Grand Cañon of Arizona,” is described, “Stereograph showing a man, with a horse and two pack mules, descending the Grand View Trail in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission. This photo is in the public domain.)

FEEDIN’ TIME by Bruce Kiskaddon

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FEEDIN’ TIME
by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950

You are warm in the cabin, and doin’ yore cookin’.
But you know that yore hosses are there, without lookin’.
It’s ‘long about time they come in to be fed,
And to be put away fer the night in the shed.

Both hosses and mules seem to have their own way
Of tellin’ exactly the time of the day.
And I’ve noticed besides they don’t often get lost,
Like some human bein’s you’ve happened acrosst.

Yore feet is so warm that you don’t like to go
And git yore boots wet, wadin”round in the snow.
But it’s feed makes ’em stout, and it’s feed brings ’em back;
So you pull on your boots, and you start makin’ tracks.

You pull down yore hat and you turn up yore collar.
You start fer the shed and the hosses both foller.
They are glad to see you, and I’ve generally found,
A man don’t git so lonesome with hosses around.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems.

This impressive photograph was made by John Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet. John recites this poem on the forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon from CowboyPoetry.com, to be released in late April for Cowboy Poetry Week.

John and Heather Reedy’s daughter Brigid and son Johnny “Guitar” Reedy, popular performers at cowboy poetry gatherings, also have recitations on the forthcoming CD.

Find more about the CD, including the complete track list, here.

You can receive a CD and the Cowboy Poetry Week Poster for a donation of $50 or more to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more and a quick link for donating here.

CDs will likely be $35 postpaid. Posters are never sold.

See more impressive photography at John Reedy’s site and find more about him at Cowboypoetry.com and twistedcowboy.com.

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You may share this photograph with this poem, but for other uses, request permission. This poem is in the public domain.)

THE COWBOY’S LAMENT, traditional*

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THE COWBOY’S LAMENT
Traditional*

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen,
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.

“Oh beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
Play the Dead March as you bear me along;
Take me to the graveyard, and lay the sod o’er me,
For I’m a young cowboy, and I know I’ve done wrong.

“I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,”—
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by.—
“Come sit beside me and hear my sad story;
I was shot in the breast and I know I must die.

“Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin,
Let sixteen cowboys come sing me a song,
Take me to the graveyard and lay the sod over me,
For I’m a poor cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.

“My friends and relation they live in the Nation,
They know not where their boy has gone.
He first came to Texas and hired to a ranchman,
Oh, I’m a young cowboy, and I know I’ve done wrong.

“Go write a letter to my gray-haired mother,
And carry the same to my sister so dear;
But not a word shall you mention
When a crowd gathers round you my story to hear.

There is another more dear than a sister,
She’ll bitterly weep when she hears I am gone.
There is another who will win her affections,
For I’m a young cowboy, and they say I’ve done wrong.

“Go gather around you a crowd of young cowboys
And tell them the story of this my sad fate;
Tell one and the other before they go further
To stop their wild roving before ‘t is too late.

“Oh muffle your drums, then play your fifes merrily;
Play the Dead March as you bear me along.
And fire your guns right over my coffin;
There goes an unfortunate boy to his home.

“It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
It was once in the saddle I used to be gay;
First to the dram-house and then to the card-house:
Got shot in the breast , I am dying to-day.

“Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin;
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall;
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Put roses to deaden the clods as they fall.

“Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly,
And give a wild whoop as you bear me along;
And in the grave throw me, and roll the sod over me,
For I’m a young cowboy, and I know I’ve done wrong.

“Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water
To cool my parched lips,” the young cowboy said.
Before I turned, the spirit had left him
And gone to its Giver—the cowboy was dead.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along;
For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young, and handsome;
We all loved our comrade, although he’d done wrong.

…traditional

(From the 1921 edition of Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, in which he writes, “Authorship credited to Troy Hale, Battle Creek, Nebraska. I first heard it sung in a bar-room at Wisner, Nebraska, about 1886.”)

*”The Cowboy’s Lament” (also known as “Streets of Laredo”) is most often cited as “traditional,” and it also has been credited to various authors. Today, most accept that Francis Henry Maynard (1853-1926) wrote an early version of the song, “The Dying Cowboy.” Find our feature about the song and Maynard and more, including links to vintage renditions at CowboyPoetry.com.

Why feature this poem for St. Patrick’s Day? The melody and story are said to have come from the 18th century Irish ballad, “The Bard of Armagh” (also known as “The Unfortunate Rake,” “Phelim Brady,” and by other titles). Find a short version of that ballad and many links (like this one to a vintage Peter LaFarge rendition of “Streets of Laredo) and more information about “The Cowboy’s Lament” and its history at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find other St. Patrick’s Day-flavored poems and lyrics there as well.

This 1909 Raphael Tuck postcard is from the New York Public Library’s digital collection. Find more about this card here.

This poem and image are in the public domain.

WORKIN’ IT OVER, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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WORKIN’ IT OVER
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It don’t matter much what a cow boy may own,
You never can git him to leave it alone.
He always has some fool idee in his head,
‘Bout his saddle or pack outfit, even his bed.

Supposin’ his saddle is made with square skirts.
It worries that waddie ontil his soul hurts.
He gits out his knife and he cuts the skirts round;
Then he stitches the edges, or laces ’em down.

Then, mebby he’ll cut the chafes off from his cinches.
He will splice out some straps or cut off a few inches.
He will cut at his pack outfit and rip out the stitchin’
While he changes the breast rig or mebby the britchin’.

He will whittle his bridle, and ‘fore he gets through,
He has got both his spur straps cut half way in two.
When his outfit’s plum ruint he goes to the store;
He buys some new stuff and starts whittlin’ once more.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in September, 1940, and also was in the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar.

We are pleased to have a recitation of this poem by David McCall on the forthcoming 3-CD MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, to be released in late April for Cowboy Poetry Week. Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet.

NEW: See the track list for the three CDs.

You can receive a CD and the Cowboy Poetry Week Poster for a donation of $50 or more to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more and a quick link for donating here.

CDs will likely be $35 postpaid. Posters are never sold.

According to Bill Siems’ Open Range, which includes almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems, Frank M. King wrote of Kiskaddon and calls him a “natural” as well. He comments, “Bruce is an old cowhand who just naturally thinks in rhymes. He never took no poem lessons, nor for that matter not many of any other sort of lessons, but he’s got ’em all tied to a snubbin’ post when it comes to building cowboy and range poetry…”

Find more about Kiskaddon in our features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This postcard, from our collection, is by artist J. Richard Parry (1883-1952). It’s titled “Holding My Own” is has a 1907 copyright (now in the public domain) and the reverse has a 1910 postmark. We don’t know much about Parry. He illustrated a book “The Mystery of Bonanza Trail” (1910). Searching genealogy records, we find his full name was John Richard Parry, born in 1883 to Elizabeth and John Parry, in Denver. In 1940, his profession is listed as “salesman” in the machinist industry. He died at age 69 and is buried in Wheat Ridge Cemetery, Jefferson County, Colorado.

This poem is in the public domain.

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon

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photo of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado

Praise for previous CDs from CowboyPoetry.com:

“The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“This album [MASTERS (2017)] represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.” Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“…The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle…” Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, Western Horseman

“The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry’s annual anthologies are creating a valuable, high quality and thoroughly enjoyable resource for everyone…” Steve Green, Archivist, Western Folklife Center

“…without peer…intelligently produced… I equate them to one of those Ken Burns specials, like his Civil War, Jazz, or Baseball….the best of the best.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“For those of us who love cowboy poetry, this is perhaps the best anthology we’ve yet heard.” Cowboy Magazine

The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.

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Our thirteenth CD (following ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup and two MASTERS volumes) is MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (April 2019).

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE has over 60 tracks in a multi-disc CD of the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950). Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet. Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems, introduces the CD.

Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)  worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Find more about Kiskaddon at CowboyPoetry.com.

The MASTERS CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

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The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by Shawn Cameron in 2019) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The annual CD is a premium for our supporters and also available for purchase. Find information about past years’ CDs here.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.

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Below:

Track list and sources
Acknowledgements

Coming:
Order information

Release date: April 20, 2019

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DISC ONE

1. ABOUT BRUCE KISKADDON Bill Siems
2. from LOOKING BACKWARD Randy Rieman
3. WHEN THEY’VE FINISHED SHIPPING CATTLE IN THE FALL Randy Rieman
4. THE BRONCHO TWISTER’S PRAYER Jay Snider
5. THE TIME TO DECIDE Andy Hedges
6. THE CREAK OF THE LEATHER Gary McMahan
7. ALONE Trey Allen (1971-2016)
8. AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP Floyd Beard
9. BETWEEN THE LINES Jay Snider
10. THE DRIFTER Ol’ Jim Cathey
11. HE DIDN’T BELONG Rod Miller
12. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ME OR IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN YOU Ken Cook
13. THE LONG EARED BULL Ross Knox
14. THE OLD NIGHT HAWK Chris Isaacs
15. THE NEW MEXICO STRAY Dennis Russell
16. MICROBES Jerry Brooks
17. STARTIN’ OUT Gail Steiger
18. COW SENSE Deanna Dickinson McCall
19. THE COW AND THE CALF Amy Hale Auker
20. NOT SO SLOW Jessica Hedges
21. SHOVELING THE ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH Robert Dennis
22. THE LONG HORN SPEAKS Valerie Beard

DISC TWO

1. INTRODUCTORY Ken Cook
2. EARLY WORM Keith Ward
3. RIDIN’ FENCE Gail Steiger
4. FEEDIN’ TIME John Reedy
5. THEY CAN TAKE IT Baxter Black
6. THAT LITTLE BLUE ROAN J.B. Allen (1938-2005)
7. THE BELL MARE Brigid Reedy
8. FORGOTTEN Jesse Smith
9. WHEN YOU’RE THROWED Randy Rieman
10. WHEN HE COLD JAWS Duane Nelson
11. CAUGHT NAPPIN’ Keith Ward
12. PULLIN’ LEATHER Gary McMahan
13. ON FOOT Kathy Moss
14. HER COLT Susie Knight
15. THE ARMY MULE Kay Kelley Nowell
16. THE GENTLE HOSS Tom Swearingen
17. THE OLD COW PONY Dick Morton
18. WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD Ross Knox
19. JUDGMENT DAY DW Groethe
20. THE COW BOY’S DREAM Waddie Mitchell

DISC THREE

1. AN OLD WESTERN TOWN Randy Rieman
2. THE MEDICINE SHOW Andy Hedges
3. THEN AND NOW Andy Nelson
4. PROGRESS Dale Page
5. THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL Almeda Bradshaw
6. AUGERIN’ Smoke Wade
7. THE MAN ON THE FENCE Bill Siems
8. A COWBOY’S BRAINS Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)
9. DRINKIN’ WATER Jarle Kvale
10. WET BOOTS Johnny Reedy
11. ALKALI IKE’S ZIPPERS Rusty McCall (1986-2013)
12. WORKIN’ IT OVER David McCall
13. THE LOST FLANNINS Terry Nash
14. HER MAN Susie Knight
15. GHOST CANYON TRAIL Rex Rideout

CHRISTMAS POEMS
16. CHRISTMAS AT THE HOME RANCH Keith Ward
17. THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS Linda Kirkpatrick
18. MERRY CHRISTMAS (1933) Gail Steiger

19. CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) Butch Hause

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Thanks to the poets, reciters, and families and to Bill Siems, Andy Hedges, Margaret Allen, Jeffrey Hancock, the McCall family, the Western Folklife Center, the Cowboy Crossroads podcast, History Colorado, Andy Nelson and Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio, Totsie Slover and The Real West from the Old West radio, and Chris Kirby. Produced by Margo Metegrano and compiled and mastered by Butch Hause at the Ranger Station Studio, Berthoud, Colorado, all with generous funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., the Margaret T. Morris Foundation, and our community’s all-important sustaining donors.

Photograph of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado.

DAYLIGHT SAVING IN CACTUS CENTER by Arthur Chapman

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DAYLIGHT SAVING IN CACTUS CENTER
by Arthur Chapman (1873-1935)

Down here in Cactus Center
we believe in savin’ time;
Unlike the waste of powder,
wastin’ daylight is a crime;
So we held a solemn meetin’,
down in Poker Johnson’s place,
And agreed that here in Cactus
every clock must change its face;
“For,” Bear Hawkins said, reflective,
“it will give one hour more
For the studyin’ by sunlight
of this here draw poker lore.
We are proud of all the sunshine
that suffuses yonder range;
If we was n’t boosters for it,
it’d be almighty strange.”

But a shadder fell upon us
when old Pegleg brought the mail
And he stumped in, from his stage seat,
with his customary hail,
For he said, when we had told him
of our daylight savin’ plan:
“This is rough on pore old Pegleg—
you have got me on the pan,
For they’ve just sent word from Lone Wolf
that the old-time schedule stays,
And they say I’ll run this bus line
just as on all previous days,
So I’d like to have you tell me
how I’ll land among you here
At the time I’m leavin’ Lone Wolf.
Do I make my meanin’ clear?

We are peaceful here in Cactus—
it takes lots to stir our ire—
But this impudence from Lone Wolf
set our fightin’ blood afire;
So we ‘phoned the Two-Bar foreman,
and the Star, and Lazy Y,
And we got word to the round-ups
and they let the brand-irons lie,
And the top hands come a-peltin’
from the wide and dusty plain,
And we even took a sheepman,
though it went against the grain.
Whereupon, when all assembled,
we sent word: “Hunt trees to climb,
For we’re comin’ over, Lone Wolf,
and we’ll make you change your time!”

There’s been battles over poker,
there’s been bloodshed over booze,
There’s been men who’ve gone to Boot Hill
’cause of words that they would use;
Men have been turned into lead mines
for remarks misunderstood;
Men who would n’t drink have perished—
men have died because they would’
But the fight of fights was started
when we entered Lone Wolf’s streets
And we carried daylight savin’
to the uttermost retreats.
Though we lost some ten good gunmen,
we was pleased, on takin’ stock,
When we found that we had shot holes
in each laggin’ Lone Wolf clock.

… by Arthur Chapman, from Cactus Center: poems of an Arizona Town (1921)

Daylight Savings Time is back, no more popular than it was when Arthur Chapman wrote his poem.

At one time, few western poems were as widely known as Arthur Chapman’s “Out Where the West Begins.” Legend has it that Chapman dashed off the poem for his “Center Shots” column in the Denver Republican when the Western states’ governors were arguing about where the West begins, and that he was amazed at the attention it received.

The dust jacket of his 1921 novel, Mystery Ranch, has this to say about the poem:

“…Today it is perhaps the best-known bit of verse in America. It hangs framed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior at Washington. It has been quoted in Congress, and printed as campaign material for at least two Governors. It has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific, while throughout this country it may be found pinned on walls and pasted in scrapbooks innumerable…[his poems] possess a rich Western humor such as has not been heard in American poetry since the passing of Bret Harte.”

Find “Out Where the West Begins” and more about it, including a parody, “Down Where the Vest Begins,” at CowboyPoetry.com: cowboypoetry.com/ac.htm#OUT

Chapman wrote many poems and published two collections of them.

In 1921, the Literary Review commented on the poetry in Cactus Center, “In vigor of style, [it] irresistibly suggests a transplanted Kipling.” View the entire book at the Internet Archive.

Find much more about Arthur Chapman in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is in the public domain.

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CowboyPoetry.com
celebrates our Western heritage and today’s working West, dedicated to preserving our important history and to promoting the Western arts that carry on those traditions.  It’s a part of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

The Center was formed to serve a mostly rural and under-served community of Western writers, musicians, and artists; to help preserve Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts; to offer a central resource for poets, libraries, schools, and the public; and to educate the public about the history and value of Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts.

Supporters make a difference. With individual support, the Center can continue its programs, expand some of those efforts, and take on new projects. Individual support helps show institutional funders the community interest in our Western arts.

We thank our supporters, who are listed below. They make an important difference to the community of Western writers, musicians, and artists as we work together to preserve Western heritage and support Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts. Please join us.

The BAR-D supporters make all of the programs of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry possible: Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, and CowboyPoetry.com.

 

2019

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Mark Munzert
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Georganna Kresl
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Jeff Campbell
Betty and Ken Rodgers
Linda Nadon in memory of Georgie Sicking and Elizabeth Ebert
Al “Doc” Mehl and Doris Daley
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Jeri Dobrowski
Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)
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Stella and Ol’ Jim Cathey in memory of Charles (Charlie) Prentiss
and Loretta Kay (Flake) Kanavel

2019 program support:
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Margaret T. Morris Foundation

2018

John Waters
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Almeda Bradshaw (sponsor)
Jim and Stella Cathey in memory of Louise M. Fritts
Marci Broyhill (sponsor)
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Susan Matley in memory of Liz Masterson
Charmaine Ganson
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Scott and Diana Overcash in memory of Debi Koppang
M. Todd Hess
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L.L. “Lucky Lindy” Segall in memory of Carlos Ashley
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Linda Nadon in memory of Georgie Sicking
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Yvonne Hollenbeck (sponsor)
Yvonne and Glen Hollenbeck
in memory of Liz Masterson, Kenny Krogman, Elizabeth Ebert
Jeff Thomas
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Ken Howry—Sunshine Prairie Farm
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Jane and Dick Morton
Karen Bartholomew
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2019 program support:
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Margaret T. Morris Foundation

 

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