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Posted on May 17, 2014
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Gene Ray Ward 1934-2014



Gene Ray Ward was born December 21, 1934 in Clovis, NM to Olen and Claudia Ward.  He was raised on a ranch in Arizona.  At age 11 he worked at Palo Duro Canyon wrangling horses and taking coal and wood to the cabins.  He was drafted into the US Army in 1959. Gene Ray married Karen Barrett on July 2, 1960.  In 1961, he went to work for US Forest Service as Fire Lookout on Grouse Mountain, NM. He worked on ranches in southern Arizona until 1966 when he went to work for Carl Stevenson at Red Rock Feeding Company.  He worked his way up from the bottom to the cattle manager.  In 1969 they moved to Chandler, AZ where he took a management position with Spur Industries.  In 1972,  he moved back to Red Rock to work for Carl as the feedlot manager.  In 1974, Gene Ray moved his family to Texline, TX where he worked as cattle manager for WinRock Farms.  In 1981, Gene Ray and Karen bought a farm in Sedan, NM where he farmed and ran cattle until 1988 when he sold the farm to rodeo full time.


            Gene Ray began his rodeo career in 1957 when he joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association.  He won his 1st Team Roping Buckle in Uvalde, TX in 1964.  He was an early member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Gold Card holder #C6658.  He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1964 and again in 1971. He was two-time PRCA Texas Circuit Team Roping Champion.  Gene Ray won the 1981 Lone Star Circuit Finals Team Roping Champion. In 1984 and 1987 he won the Pot of Gold team roping in Scottsdale, AZ.  He won the XIT Tie Down Team Roping in 1986 with Sam Kennedy.  He also won the Rodeo of Champions in 1988.  Gene Ray was the 1988 Rope America High Money Header, $10,000 winner.  He won the 1988 Canadian Old Timer Rodeo Association Calf Roping Championship.  Gene Ray was the Senior Pro Rodeo World’s Champion All Around Cowboy in 1996.  He won the Panhandle Classic Open with his son Clayton Ward in 1997. He won International Feedlot Cowboys Association Championship in 2000, 2001, and 2002.   Gene Ray won the 2005 XIT #11 Champion Team Roping.  Gene Ray’s last entry in Senior Pro rodeo, at age 71, was at a Bill Brewer Memorial Rodeo in 2006 in Douglas, WY.  He won that roping in the 50 year old age bracket with Bill’s son. In 2008, he won the De Oeste Century roping in Tucson, AZ heading for Vic Aros, grandfather of Cesar de la Cruz (leading PRCA heeler). Their combined ages were 150.  Gene Ray held card number 1003 in the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association and his unofficial title was “the “Cowboy’s Cowboy”.  The honor was earned with a lifelong rodeo career where he won many championship titles.  He won the NSPRA Team Roping World Championship five times, was Reserve World Champion four times, and won the NSPRA All Around Championship once.  Gene Ray served eight years on the Executive Board of the NSPRA. Six of those years he served as Chairman of the Board.  In 1995, he received the SNFR Commissioners Award.  Gene Ray was inducted into the NSPRA Hall of Fame in 1998.  


             In 1999, Gene Ray and Karen bought a place south of Dalhart, TX and ran a couple hundred head of cows.  In 2009, Gene Ray was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  


            Gene Ray accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was baptized in Dalhart on April 4th, 2014.


Gene Ray Ward passed on May 16, 2014 at the age of 79. He was at home, with much of his family present. Gene Ray is survived by his wife Karen, daughter Deb Davis, son Clayton Douglas Ward and wife Cyndi Ward, son Bobby Jo “BJ” Ward and wife Jeri Ward.  Grandchildren: Cheyanne Rae Davis, Michael Ray Watson and fiancé‘ Ashley Travis, Jeffery Ward, Stephanie Adams and husband Dusty Adams, Taylor Van Ryn, and Blade Olen Ward.  Great Grandchildren: Conner Ray Watson, Mason Lee Adams, Kain Richard Van Ryn, Pierce Remy-Anne Van Ryn, and Diesel Douglas Van Ryn


In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to:


Strike Out Cancer

PO Box 1504

Dalhart, TX. 79022


If there are any friends of Gene Ray that would like to share a story about him, to be read at the funeral, please email to karenward37@yahoo.com


Funeral services will be at The Spiritual Life Center 3560 FM 281, Dalhart, TX. at 2:00pm, Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

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