WESTERN wanderings

Sep 4, 2009
WESTERN wanderings

In my 37 years of traveling for Western Livestock Journal, and a couple of other publications, I have had the great privilege of working with some of our industry’s best auctioneers. They are a unique breed, with qualities and characteristics that are similar in all of them, although each has his own distinct style. Recently, Butch Booker, a good friend and auctioneer whom I have worked a lot of sales with, was attending the National Auctioneer’s Association (NAA) Convention in Kansas City, MO. Butch won the World Championship Title last year at this convention and this year, he found himself in the company of two of our industry’s well known auctioneers, Ray Sims and his cousin, Leroy Van Dyke. Col. Ray was, of course, one of the all time best purebred livestock auctioneers ever to wield a gavel and was the original “machine gun” auctioneer with a rapid-fire chant and a rapid-fire selling pace. Leroy is also well known in livestock circles as he was raised on a cattle operation in Missouri and worked as a fieldman for the Drovers Journal in the fifties. He made his indelible mark when he wrote and sang “The Auctioneer” song about his cousin Ray Sims. Well, old Booker was in pretty fast company and he wanted a picture with the two auctioneers, which he got. He then convinced Sims and Van Dyke to offer another picture taking session to the highest bidder at an NAA fun auction later that evening. The buyer bid $1,300 to have his photo taken with Col. Ray and Leroy; Booker didn’t have to cough up a dime! But I know Butch wouldn’t take a million bucks for his picture and will tell his son Cotton about how it all happened over and over again.

Wander, wander: The “Positermilogicalextitudinarian” is gone. Dean H. Parker passed away recently and his passing brought back a flood of memories for me. Dean was one of the all-time great horse auctioneers.

Early in my career, Dean took a liking to me and hauled me to many of the top horse sales in the country. For a kid who had never been around anything but a grade horse, traveling with Dean to those places, meeting some of the Quarter Horse industry’s most respected breeders, and seeing all those great horses was absolutely a dream come true. Dean had his own plane and by the time he had to quit flying due to heart problems, he had logged over 22,000 hours. Dean also sold lots of purebred cattle sales, but his true love was the horse business. Over the years, he was owner and part owner of three large Quarter Horse operations and owned some of the breed’s most renowned stallions, including the great Sugar Bars. Dean had a powerful voice. When he was selling, his booming voice com manded attention and respect.

His deep knowledge of the horse business and pedigrees made him one of the most-sought-after auctioneers in the business.

Most of you who knew Dean probably only knew the business side of the man. As much as he loved the auctioneering, flying and horses, his family always came first. He was extremely proud of them and their accomplishments. He was remembered by his family as a person they could always count on for counsel and advice, a person whose steady faith in his beliefs encouraged them to work hard and strive to be better.

I traveled a ton of miles with Dean, in the air and on the ground, and I can vouch for the kind of person he was. He was a good man and a good friend. The memories of those days will always be with me. More wandering: Another fall sale season is just days away for me as I head to California and the fall bull sales. It’s anybody’s guess what this round of sales will bring, but I’ll go out on a limb and say they are going to be about what they were last year. Pretty safe bet, huh? There are fewer cows out there, but there are also fewer bulls being offered.

It’s been a decent grass year on the West Coast this year and I have heard of quite a few heifers being bred. That could bode well for calving ease bulls. One thing is for sure, the genetics being offered out there are strong, and for those of you who like the numbers, there are a lot of meaningful ones that will help you with your selections. Keep your eye on WLJ for all of the upcoming sales and please support our good WLJ advertisers.

Also, if you haven’t done so yet, check out our Web page, it was voted “Best Web Site” by the Livestock Publications Council. It’s fun to read WLJ online! — JERRY YORK

The Three Amigos: Col. Ray Sims, Col. Butch Booker and Col. Leroy Van Dyke attended the National Auctioneer Association Convention in Kansas City, MO.