Late rancher to be honored

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Late rancher to be honored

Osage County rancher John Hughes will be added, posthumously, to the Hall of Great Westerners during an April 18 ceremony at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Hughes — who died June 19, 2013, at the age of 80 — was a driving force behind the growth of his family’s ranch in eastern Osage County. During his lifetime, Hughes Ranch went from its original 1,800 acres to cover more than 12,000 acres and extend from a few miles southwest of Bartlesville to adjoin the preserve at Woolaroc. The ranch was primarily used for cattle until the late 1980s, when it also became home to thousands of adopted wild mustangs.

Also due induction in the Hall will be 87-year-old Californian Cotton Rosser, a former rodeo producer who in 2006 was the first-ever recipient of the Ben Johnson Memorial Award presented by the Rodeo Hall of Fame. Two new inductees to the Hall of Great Western Performers — James Coburn and Ken Maynard — also are to be posthumously honored during the ceremony. And, Harvey Dietrich will receive the 2015 Chester A. Reynolds Award, which is named after the museum’s founder.

The Hall of Great Westerners honor is part of the Oklahoma City museum’s Western Heritage Awards program, which was established in 1961 as a way of promoting the legacies of those whose works “reflect significant stories of the American West.”

Adding to the glamour of the annual event are the celebrities who present awards and preside over the ceremonies. The emcees for this year’s gala presentation will be Patrick and Ethan Wayne, whose father — the late actor John Wayne — hosted the 1965 Western Heritage Awards. All of the program honorees receive a bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback. The award has come to be known as a Wrangler.

Festivities will begin on the Friday night before the Saturday awards banquet with the “Jingle-Jangle Mingle,” a prestigious event of the Western social calendar.

Reservations for both of the events are due by April 10.

A lifelong Bartlesville-area resident, Hughes was a past president of the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association and had been named Oklahoma Cattleman of the Year in 1993. He has been referred to as “a tremendous cattleman and visionary” and also has been noted for being “an exceptional steward of the land.”

Some of Hughes’ honors included: Oklahoma’s Outstanding Young Rancher-Farmer (1962); Governor’s Conservation Award (1972); Bluestem Rancher of the Year (1980); Outstanding Achievement Award for the Society of Range Management (1982), and Graduate of Distinction from the OSU Animal Science Department (1985).

Hughes served many roles in the state’s ranching industry, among them: president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, director of the National Cattlemen’s Association, board member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Commission, director of the Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association, board member of the National Livestock Credit Corporation, board member of the National Livestock Commission Association, board member of the Oklahoma Beef Council and director of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Other 2015 Western Heritage Award recipients, by category, include:


Theatrical Motion Picture — “The Homesman,” The Javelina Film Company and Ithaca Films; Documentary — “The Road to Valhalla,” Lone Chimney Films; TV Feature Film — “Klondike” Miniseries, Discovery Networks in association with Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures; Fictional Drama — Hell on Wheels Episode 410: “Return to Hell,” AMC/Endermol/Entertainment One/Nomadic Pictures, and Western Lifestyle Programming — “Stateline: Cowboys of Color,” OETA, the Oklahoma Network.


Outstanding Juvenile Book — How The West Was Drawn: Women’s Art by Linda L. Osmundson; Western Novel — The Poacher’s Daughter by Michael Zimmer; Nonfiction Book — A Lakota War Book from the Little Bighorn: The Pictographic “Autobiography of Half Moon,” by Castle McLaughlin; Art Book — Montana’s Charlie Russell: Art in the Collection of the Montana Historical Society, Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney and Kirby Lambert; Photography Book — Wilderness by Debra Bloomfield; Magazine Article — “Not For Sale” by Bob Welch in American Cowboy Magazine; Poetry Book — The Goatherd by Larry D. Thomas.


Original Western Composition — “Where Horses are Heroes” by Wylie & the Wild West, Wylie Gustafson composer/recording artist/producer; Traditional Western Album — “Cowboys and Girls” by Randy Huston and Hannah Huston; New Horizons Award — Hannah Huston.