Bauers inducted into hall of fame | TSLN.com

Bauers inducted into hall of fame

"Collecting is a way to preserve our history and our past," Punk Bauer. Photo courtesy Bauer family

Having a passion for something can be rewarding enough, but when that passion is acknowledged by a national organization, it's icing on the cake. The National Bit, Spur and Saddle Collectors Association inducted Winfred "Punk" and Diana Bauer, Vale, South Dakota into the organization's Hall of Fame in June. The Bauers have been involved with the NBSSCA for about 25 years, and enjoy being part of an organization that shares their interest and passion for old west items.

The organization is headquartered in Texas, but membership covers much of the western part of the nation. Punk was humbled by the induction, saying "I felt really honored that we were nominated and selected, as I feel there are a lot of people that are more deserving of the award. I'm very happy to see the northern plains get honored in this way too."

The Bauers moved to the Vale, South Dakota country from western Minnesota in 1982. They have three children: John, who operates a saddle shop at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, James, who works border security and customs in New Mexico, and Teresa, who with her husband Robert, live at Valdez, Alaska. The Bauers are also blessed with three grandchildren.

"I've been a collector most of my life, but got serious about it about 30 years ago," says Punk. "When we moved to South Dakota, there was so much history here that it really fueled my interest in preserving it and getting involved with activities that were part of that."

"I feel that collecting is a way to preserve our history and our past. We need to leave something for the next generation to hang onto that connects them to their roots. My passion is the restoration of old saddles. I've had people bring me their Grandpa's old saddle that's hung in the barn for years and I've been able to restore it and give them something special to hand on down to their kids," explains Punk. Saddles and old bits and bridles are his particular field of interest, but he's fascinated with anything that represents history. "It's not so much the dollar value but the story behind an item that sparks my interest," asserts Punk.

Punk Bauer is also deeply involved with the Cowboy Heritage Auction that is held every year in Rapid City, South Dakota during the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. With over 20 years under his belt, he hopes that the auction will continue for many years to come. Due to a long recovery from knee surgery, Punk won't be able to have the auction in 2015, but has every intention for it to get back up and rolling when he has recovered fully. "The Foundation has been such a hard working group and have contributed selflessly for the success of that sale for years. I want to be able to keep that great fundraiser going when I'm able to again," explains Punk.

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Though Punk has been in rehabilitation to restore his mobility, he hasn't wasted the months away bemoaning his situation. "I've had a lot of time to reflect on things in the past year and I've decided that the two smartest things I ever did were marrying Diana and moving to South Dakota," he says with sincerity.

South Dakota has been made richer by their presence in the state as well, and their induction into the Hall of Fame is an added bonus.

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