Duane Howard: 1933-2015
Duane Howard, who was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2008 for a lifetime devoted to elevating the cowboy sport as a contestant, administrator, pickup man and judge, died early Oct. 1, at the Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd in New Rockford, North Dakota. He was 82.
Howard competed in all three roughstock events as a professional in the Rodeo Cowboys Association (precursor to the PRCA), finishing as Reserve World Champion in bull riding three times (1955, 1957 and 1960) and also as Reserve World Champion in the all-around to Jim Shoulders in 1957.
The Minnewaukan, North Dakota, native qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding for the first two National Finals Rodeos in Dallas in 1959-60, winning the bull riding average title that second year with a score of 1,416 points on eight head (rodeo then used a scoring system based on a perfect score of 210).
A severe head injury suffered at the 1961 Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days cut short his competitive career.
Rather than dwelling on what might have been, Howard pressed on to become one of the RCA’s first professional judges and was selected to work the National Finals Rodeo 11 times. He also served on the RCA Board of Directors and worked as a pickup man at RCA rodeos.
“My riding career wasn’t that long because of the injuries,” Howard said in his ProRodeo Hall of Fame acceptance speech, “but everything that happened had a reason. I wasn’t the only one who ever got hurt; it was just one of those things. I feel very blessed and have no regrets. I had my ups and downs in rodeo, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Howard was inducted in the inaugural class of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1998 and the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 2007.
A prayer service was Oct. 7 at the Evans Funeral Home in New Rockford, with the Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Oct. 8, at St. John’s Catholic Church in New Rockford. He was interred at Riverside Cemetery in his hometown of Sheyenne, North Dakota