March 3, 1935
Vernon L. Oatman was born March 3, 1935 at the Ainsworth Hospital in Ainsworth, Nebraska. His parents were Roy and Elsie (Rolston) Oatman. There were five children; Marjorie (Oatman) Bligh, Wessington Springs, South Dakota; Robert (Bob) Oatman from the Thedford, Nebraska area and spent his last days in Chadron, Nebraska (Deceased); Dale Oatman from the Ainsworth area and spent his last days in Elk Horn, Nebraska (Deceased); Iloe (Oatman) Arent from Madison, Wisconsin.
Roy and Elsie Oatman moved to the Oatman ranch 20 miles south of Johnstown, Nebraska. The ranch is now known as the Moon Lake Cattle Company. They lived there with their children for over 20 years. Then they bought a ranch 24 miles south of Ainsworth, Nebraska. They had that ranch for approximately 8 years and then traded it for a ranch 10 miles southeast of Ainsworth, Nebraska.
Vernon attended the Voss-Wrage school south of Wood Lake, Nebraska from the second grade through his eighth grade year. He rode his horse seven miles to school each day and then back home. His freshman year he attended the Ag school at Curtis, Nebraska and continued there for a year and a half at which time he was then transferred to Ainsworth, Nebraska and finished his high school education and graduated in 1952. During high school, he was a member of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association. He rode his first cow in the first high school sanctioned rodeo in Curtis, Nebraska in 1948. Some of his roommates at the Ag school in Curtis, Nebraska were Joe McNitt, Bobby Phipps, Morris (Tuffy) Thompson. He was the All-Around Cowboy at the open FFA rodeo in Ainsworth, Nebraska in 1951. After graduation, Vernon worked on ranches, roped in three different roping clubs, rode cows and picked up broncs for six years steady in Nebraska and South Dakota.
Vernon married Velma Painter from Springview, Nebraska on July 25, 1957. Vernon and Velma were married at Lawton, Oklahoma. Vernon was serving in the United States Army. He was a helicopter flying crew chief of which he loved. In 1958 he was transferred to Fort Hood, Texas in the same position as a helicopter flying crew chief. In his spare time, during the time he was stationed in Texas, he would help several people with their horses and goats.
Vernon was released from the Army on January 10, 1959, at which time he and his wife, Velma, had a ranch job waiting for them in Clearfield, South Dakota. They also worked on ranches north of Valentine and Brownlee, Nebraska. While working at the Hanna Ranch in Brownlee, they started their family. They had three children, of which all three were born in the same hospital as their dad, Vernon, in Ainsworth, Nebraska; a daughter, Tammy LaRae, a son, Kem LeRoy and a daughter Lesa Lyn. Tammy is married to Casey Flynn and they reside on an acreage south of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Kem is married to Kimberly (Unick) Oatman and they reside on an acreage east of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Lesa is married to Loren Gorsuch and they reside on the Stine Ranch south of Bingham, Nebraska. Vernon and Velma also have ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In 1964, Vernon and his family moved from Brownlee, Nebraska and took a job with the Nebraska Brand Commission and moved to Broken Bow, Nebraska, as he was concerned about the distance that his children would have to travel to go to school from the ranch in Brownlee.
In 1977, Vernon and Velma opened V-Bar Trailer Sales in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The business consisted of welding, building corrals and feed bunk rails, trainer sales and service. It has been a very successful business. After the sales of over three thousand trailers, they quit counting. In 1991 V-Bar started donating the use of a horse trailer to the Nebraska High School Rodeo queen to use during her reign and then donated the use of a trailer to the Nebraska High School Rodeo timed event cowboy champion. To date, the tradition continues that V-Bar donates the use of a trailer to the Nebraska High School timed event cowboy champion. V-Bar also sponsored a ranch rodeo team for over 10 years of which it consisted of Vernon’s family members; his son and son-in-laws. After their team quit competing, Vernon judged ranch rodeos for years and put on a ranch rodeo in Broken Bow. Vernon’s son, Kem, now owns the business his dad started. His daughter, Tammy Flynn, worked at V-Bar for Vernon for over 25 years before buying Broken Bow Floral in Broken Bow, Nebraska.
During the time that Vernon worked for the Nebraska Brand Commission and running V-Bar Trailer Sales, he has always ran cattle and raised horses, in which he has stood more than one stallion for over 30 years and trained his own horses and took in horses for other people to ride.
Vernon was 4-H horse leader for over 10 years. The family had 4-H horse trophies that two banquet tables would not hold and that tradition continued with his grandchildren. Vernon and John Sennett started the 4-H horse roping events in the Custer County program in the 1970s. Vernon has had a practice arena at his place since 1969 for everyone to use. There have been a lot of family get-togethers and fun days held there too.
During the years at Broken Bow, Vernon has received several plaques and awards: Honorary Chapter Farmer FFA; Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, 3 years; Custer County Crop Improvement Association; Feeders and Breeders; Friend of 4-H; Friend of Custer County Fair; and Manning Fees, Lifetime Achievement Award, One of the most cherished awards given to Vernon and Velma in 2012 at the Nebraska High School Rode in Hastings, Nebraska. This award is given by Bill and Marge Manning for their support and love of rodeo.
Vernon is still very active in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association. He puts on the Broken Bow High School rodeo in Broken Bow, Nebraska every year in the fall. He not only puts on this rodeo, but he helps at several of the other Nebraska High School Rodeos held throughout the year at other locations. Vernon and Velma have attended the Nebraska High School Rodeo banquet every year for over 25 years to donate and help support the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association scholarship fund.