Holcombe, Strahm to be 2019 HOF honorees

Barbara Strahm

Barbara Strahm came to Pawhuska with her husband, Sam Strahm, in 1959. They were recently married and both graduates of Kansas State University. Sam had been hired to work for the Osage Animal Clinics.

Lee Holcombe’s family has lived in Pawhuska and Osage County since 1918 when his grandfather, who was an attorney and judge in Indian Territory, came to Pawhuska to practice law. His mother’s family, the Youngs, soon followed.

Lee Holcombe and Barbara Strahm have been chosen the 2019 Hall of Fame honorees by the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association. The induction of Holcombe and Strahm will be announced Friday, during the Cattlemen’s Luncheon at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

Barbara and Sam Strahm volunteered as members of the Osage County associations of cattlemen and cattlewomen for more than a half-century with the goal of helping veterinarians and cattlemen work together.

Barbara can’t remember the exact year she joined the Cattlewomen’s Association. Back then the women met separately from the men and they met the second Tuesday of the month – four times a year. When she became a member, they were meeting at the Duncan Hotel. The meetings moved to the Pawhuska Country Club and then switched to individuals’ homes in Osage County. She remembers there being 80 women attending their luncheon meetings.

Barbara, along with Debbie Reed and Betty McKinley, visited elementary school classrooms and taught healthy eating and exercising. They also went to the county fairs and the Tulsa State Fair to give demonstrations and help children visit the animals and learn more about agriculture. Barbara also brought Ag in the Classroom to her daughter’s class in Broken Arrow where she was teaching fourth grade. Barbara was also able to do demonstrations in her grandchildren’s classrooms. Along with Ag in the Classroom, the Cattlewomen gave beef certificates to buy meat for an annual cookout for the six Nursing Homes in the surrounding area.

Lee Holcombe attended Bowring grade school through the eighth grade and then graduated from Pawhuska High School in 1953. He was active in 4-H, showed calves and participated in the Osage County Judging Team, which won several awards.

Lee attended Oklahoma A & M (Oklahoma State University) and graduated in 1957 with an Animal Husbandry degree. As an ROTC graduate, he then served two years as an Armor Officer, serving as a company commander and battalion staff officer at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He received a commendation award for meritorious service at the Armor Training Center.

Lee married Janet Theis, of Pawhuska, Aug.18, 1956. Janet was involved with the cattle industry through local, state and national cattlewomen organizations (Cowbelles) and was state president of the Cowbelles in 1974. Janet was instrumental in the revived interest in downtown Pawhuska during the 1980s. After Janet’s death, Lee married Annabelle Rush Roark in 2013; Annabelle passed away in 2016.

Barbara Strahm has been the state treasurer and was “Cattlewoman of the Year” in 2013. She has also volunteered for many church, school, and community organizations in Pawhuska along with teaching piano lessons in her home for more than 60 years. Barbara’s family shares a love for beef and claims, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” – at their house.

Upon Lee Holcombe’s return from the military in 1959, he started his own ranching operation while managing and expanding a ranch operation for W.W. Keeler. He later leased the Keeler Ranch for several years and consolidated his ranching with his father until his father’s death in 1984.

Lee’s son, Scot, then came back to the ranch as the operation struggled with a bank failure and a generally tough agriculture economy. The Holcombes purchased their ranch back from the FDIC but eventually sold the ranch in 1996.

In 1996, Lee became involved in the sale of ranch real estate and in 1998, along with two partners, created Cross Timbers Land, LLC, which deals primarily with ranch, farm, recreation and development property. In 2005, Lee purchased the company as a sole proprietor until Jeff Henry, a local rancher, became a full partner in 2013.

Lee’s son, Scot, continues to ranch in Osage County and although Lee is not financially involved, he continues to have close ties to the industry.

Lee Holcombe has been president of the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association for two years; co-chairman of the Ben Johnson Steer Roping for several years; and is a life member of theOklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.