Nov. 20, 1927 – Oct. 23, 2014
Clark McEntire, an inductee in the inaugural class of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and patriarch of the sprawling McEntire family of rodeo and country music stars, died Oct. 23 at his home in Coalgate, Okla. He was 86.
Known as “Ropentire” by his contemporaries for his consistent, cool-headed skill with a rope, McEntire won three world championships in steer roping (1957-58 and 1961) and was reserve world champion in 1954, missing a fourth gold buckle by just $607 to Shoat Webster.
From 1953 through 1969, McEntire finished among the top 10 in the world steer roping standings 13 times and qualified for the National Finals Steer Roping seven times, once it was created in 1959.
For many years McEntire held the world records for fastest time on a single steer (14.5 seconds) and on five head. He won every major steer roping title on the rodeo trail, most of them more than once, including Cheyenne (1954, 1961) and Pendleton (1947, 1957-58).
All of this success was the product of skill, certainly, but also hours and hours of practice. His father, John McEntire, himself a world champion steer roper in 1934, was his coach and the inspiration for his unrelenting work ethic.
“Son, regardless of what happens,” John was said to have told young Clark, “… if the well goes dry or the house catches fire, you keep right on practicing. Your mother and I will put it out.”
Clark McEntire played a major role in encouraging Reba McEntire, one of his three daughters, to pursue a career in country music, and she got her big break by singing the National Anthem at the 1974 National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.
In 1979, the year that Clark McEntire was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., Reba released the song “Daddy” on the “Out of a Dream” album, telling Clark’s story.
Following her father’s death, Reba McEntire posted on Facebook that he was “a born and bred cowboy through and through.” He was sick for five years, according to the post. He suffered a stroke three years ago.
“It makes total sense to me, he always told us kids never to run your horse to the barn,” she said. “He was just taking his time to go on home.”
Clark McEntire is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Jacqueline; daughters, Reba, Susie and Alice; and son, Pake. Susie is also a country music performer, and Pake was a two-time qualifier for the NFSR (1974, 1982).
A funeral service will took place Oct. 29 at the Kiowa (Okla.) High School Auditorium in Kiowa. Burial will be at Atoka Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Stringtown Legacy Foundation c/o Tony Potts, 304 Highland St., Stringtown, OK 74569.