Howard Parker was a true cowboy in every sense of the word. He was a fourth generation Sandhills cowboy and rancher; a rodeo cowboy, announcer, and judge; an old west history buff and collector of western memorabilia; a western entertainer story teller and cowboy poet.
Howard loved the Sandhills and fiercely protected its uniqueness and beauty. But more than this, Howard was generous and caring, witty and fun to be around, honest to a fault, intelligent with a photographic memory, and able to converse about anything. He was hard working and steadfast and was very loyal. Howard lived his entire life with courage, determination, kindness, dignity and character. He was truly a cowboy’s cowboy.
It has been said that Howard “could never get the sand out of his boots (meaning he could never leave the Sandhills). When Howard died while tending to the cattle on the family ranch, we all knew his boots were full of Sandhills sand.
Howard’s children have fond memories of growing up with a talented father. Son Chuck mentioned that “It was not uncommon for someone’s dad to know how to ride a bucking horse or rope a steer. And, though harder to find, there were other men who could play the guitar, sing, and write poetry. It just took me a few years, well into my adult life, to realize that my father was a master at all of these combined”. The year Chuck was born, 1962, his father won the NSRA Saddle Bronc Championship, which he did in 1960 and 1963 as well. Chuck says his father loved everything about the cowboy life-from the family ranch on the Niobrara River to performing cowboy poetry on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, he was an ambassador for this way of life that so many find fascinating. After my dad died, a gentleman who was a teenager in the 1960’s during my dad’s rodeo peak told me every kid his age at that time wanted to grow up to be Howard Parker. Even those steeped in cowboy life seemed to realize that my father was something special. –Chuck Parker
Daughter Lex Ann says “I’ll never forget the times younger men have told me that they looked to my dad as model for being a true-to-the-west cowboy; hand rolled cigarette, holstered six shooter, riding a half broke bronc all the while running down a coyote. My dad brought to life what young men thought they’d never see beyond a movie screen.”
A great many people over the years knew my dad through his music and poems and through him, had an appreciation for a unique way of living. Howard Parker was a cowboy and rancher in the very best sense. He didn’t fight the nature of cattle or the intention of the Sandhills. Because being a cowboy is what he was born to do, he cared for his land, he cared for the animals under his stead, and he4 gave to the world the gifts of his sons and poems to praise his way of life even after that life was over.–Lex Ann