August 22, 1928 / May 29, 1932
It’s been said “being every great man, there’s a great woman.” Irvin (Fletch) and Joyce Fletcher are a good example of this “truth”. Fletch and Joyce have lived most of their 60+ years of marriage in the Sandhills of Nebraska where they made a living ranching and spent much of their leisure time participating in or donating countless volunteer hours to the sport of rodeo. Together, this couple has influenced the ranching and rodeo lifestyle of the Nebraska Sandhills in an unforgettable, positive and powerful way. Along with that, they raised 4 daughters, Raeleen (Tom) Beal, Bobbie (Roy) Barta, Pat (Vaughn) Meeks & Cindy (Denny) Goos. Together, this couple has also introduced 8 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren so far, to the Sandhills ranching and rodeo lifestyle.
Joyce was born May 29, 1932 south of Stapleton in Lincoln County, Nebraska to Fred and Ethel Linderman. She graduated from Stapleton Baker Rural High School in 1949. Joyce had 8 sisters and 1 brother. Cleora (Elvin) Saul, Lela (Oral) Wade, Leota (Wayne) Campbell, Maxine (Lloyd) Lovitt, Eula (Jerry) Boeser, Jean (Don) Spaulding, Winnie (Ed) Janececk and brother Jake Linderman. After graduation, Joyce worked in a grocery store, the courthouse and Municipal Office in North Platte, Nebraska. She then moved to a ranch near Arthur, Nebraska to work for Dewayne & Emma Melvin cooking for ranch hands. She competed locally in rode queen contests, barrel racing and traveled the rodeo circuit. While attending one of those rodeo events, she met Irvin (Fletch) Fletcher.
Irving (Fletch) was born August 22, 1928 in Hayes County, Nebraska to Ray and Hazel Fletcher. Graduating with the class of 1946 from Wauneta High School, Fletch had started rodeoing and continued to ride barebacks and bulls while working for his folks. Siblings included brother Don (Doris) Fletcher, sisters: Lila (Tony) Gradisar, Minnie (Chuck) Smith, Lola Fletcher, and Sharon (Paul) Abbott. In October, 1950, after riding in a rode at Aksarben in Omaha, Nebraska, he took his physical. He was then drafted into the Army, where he proudly served his country. Serving as Platoon Sergeant in the 40th Infantry Division in the Korean War, Fletch received a Purple Heart Award and Bronze Star Aware before being discharged as Master Sergeant in 1952. After his discharge from the army, Fletch and Joyce were married in March 1953 at North Platte, Nebraska and began a lifetime of working side-by-side in the ranching business. They lived nad worked at Palisade, Nebraska on the Krotter Ranch, then moved to Wolbach, Nebraska for 2 yars before going to the Paxton Ranch north of Ringgold, Nebraska and onto the Morrison Ranch near Stapleton. Ranching took them to Walker Cattle Co. south of Bassett, Nebraska in the 70’s before buying their own ranch north of Taylor, Nebraska where they retired.
Fletch and Joyce have remained active in VFW & VFW Auxiliary over the years. Fletch has served as Post Commander for many years and District Commander 2 years. Recently he enjoyed a trip on the Korean War Honor Flight which was a great experience for him.
Both have stayed involved in the rode world by judging, timing events, taking entries and providing protective vests for Jr. rodeos. They have also sponsored and supported countless youngsters in their rodeo participation, and Fletch has made many ropes for calf and steer riders. Rodeo has played a big role in their lives and they have contributed much to the sport of rodeo. Wayne Plugge, Dewayne Barta and Fletch, with the help of their wives, started the Taylor High School Rodeo, which was held west of Taylor for many years. Over the years, Fletch’s hand braided rawhide and leather headstalls, reins, bracelets and other articles have been acquired by people all across the nation including celebrities Larry Mahan, Jim Shoulders and others. The two of them have always been about the rodeo life. It’s not possible to estimate the number of hours they have invested in serving, volunteering and preserving this life-style and it would be impossible to count the number of young people who have benefited from their service. Their love for the sport is contagious and they have influenced kids of all ages in rode events-especially bullriding and barebacks. Generations of rodeo athletes can trace their beginnings back to Irvin and Joyce Fletcher and they have been invaluable in preserving and promoting this way of life. In the same way that Irvin Fletcher fought to save the way of life of a people and a land in Korea that were foreign to him, he and Joyce have fought even harder to preserve and honor the Nebraska Sandhills way of life. They exhibit Fletch’s braiding in booths at several ranch expos including Bassett Ranch Expo, Valentines Old West Days, McCook Farm and Ranch Expo and Heritage Days Expo in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota. Along with displaying hand braided articles and providing braiding demonstrations for the public, they have also been asked to display items for the gift shop in the Casey Tibbs Museum in Ft. Pierre. Though small in stature, they both leave big footprints and big boots to fill in the Sandhills of Nebraska.