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Posted on Sep 6, 2018
Empty Saddles

Gary Armitage 1959 - 2018

Gary E. (Slats) Armitage, 58, passed away on August 30, 2018 in Las Vegas, NM.  Gary was born on November 28, 1959 in Roswell, NM, the son of Glen Armitage and Cora Jean (Vaughan) Armitage. Gary attended school in the Roswell School District through the eleventh grade.  He moved to Dexter High School his senior year to play football and graduated in May of 1977.


Gary married  Jane Hedeman in 1981. Two daughters were welcomed into this family.  Kenna was born in 1985 and Kodi in 1988.  They were the light of his life.  His legacy of spending time in the practice pen with the girls was his greatest joy.  He taught them to ride and spent many hours teaching them to rope competitively.  His proudest moments were watching Kenna win second at the National High School Finals in the break-away roping and supporting Kodi and Kenna as they brought home saddles from various rodeos. In November of 2017, Slats became the proud grandfather of Karstyn Riata,  daughter of Kenna and Chris Francis.


Gary loved rodeo and grew up competing in Junior, High School and collegiate rodeos in team roping and calf roping. Many trophies, belt buckles and saddles filled the family living room as a tribute to the competitor and champion that Gary was.  He joined the PRCA and made a name for himself in the steer roping, qualifying for the National Finals Steer Roping at the Lazy E Arena in 1992.  He was the Turquoise Circuit Steer Roping Champion that same year and finished tenth in the world standings. Gary made his living on the rodeo circuit until his health forced his retirement in 2006.

In 2007, Gary moved to Lea County where he stayed until moving to Las Vegas to be near his daughter following a lengthy illness. He was a Christian and always considered the Kenna Community Church as his home congregation.  As a young boy, he spent many enjoyable weekends and summers visiting his grandparents in Kenna.

Gary is survived by his former wife, Jane Hedeman Armitage of Stephenville, TX; his two daughters and a son-in-law, Kenna and Chris Francis of Las Vegas, NM and Kodi Armitage of Hobbs, NM; a granddaughter, Karstyn Francis; and two brothers, Dwayne Kibbe of Portales and Russell Armitage of Kansas. He was preceded in death by his parents and his infant daughter, Tamra Armitage.  Those desiring to make memorial contributions may send them to Freedom Ranch, PO Box 297, Clovis NM 88101.

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