WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees

JIM SELF (102)

Jim Self says, "My heroes have always been cowboys." It was Jim's granddad that had livestock, and his uncle Ruben was the cowboy. Jim said, "I just wanted to help the local ranchers and cowboys whenever I could." Jim's granddad was a government trapper, and he also had a barbershop on Railroad Avenue. Jim's dad worked in the Bisbee mine, Apache Powder and had a service station in Benson.

Jim was born May 14, 1941, at the famous Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee, Arizona. Jim grew up and graduated from St. David. He has four brothers and three sisters. In high school, he played football, basketball and track. He said he didn't do too much running; he threw the shot put and discus.

At age 17, Jim worked on the Whitehouse Ranch on the San Pedro River. Jim Self and Jack Tunks worked together not knowing that later in life they would become brothers-in-law. In 1962, he married Linda Canales. Jim said, "It took him a little while to convince everyone that she was going to be mine." They have three daughters, Penny, Jackie and Katie.

Many people do not realize just how much Jim has worked as a cowboy. He started on the Whitehouse Ranch, worked for the Aaroya Cattle Company below Cascabel, on the Sands Ranch, for Buford Slover just out of Animas, and he was the wagon boss at the Boquillas Ranch for about 2 years and the ranch foreman for 3 years. Jim has spent lots of years taking care of cattle along the San Pedro River. Working the River is a little different with bog holes, quick sand and over grown mesquite thickets along the banks. Jim said, "Working the river you needed good dogs. Those cattle could hide from the cowboys, but they couldn't hide from those dogs."

In 1973, Jim was recruited to become a deputy sheriff for Cochise County. He served from 1973 until 1992. In 1974, Jim and Linda moved to Willcox and still live on Patty Road just down from the sale barn. Even as a deputy sheriff, he spent time day working for Jack Busenbark and on the Tri W Ranch with Jack Tunks. It was during this time that he started putting his own herd of cattle together.

In 1992, when Jim retired from the County, he started shoeing horses. He was shoeing horses for the local barrel racers. He said, "I must have been doing it right, because they were not complaining." Along with the horse shoeing, Jim expanded his day working efforts working for Jack Davenport, Larry Titsworth and Alf Stansberry on the 76 Ranch. It was a roping accident that wrecked his knee and ended his horse shoeing career.

In 1995, Jim became a livestock brand inspector. He covered a large section of southeastern Arizona, as well as being responsible for the inspections conducted on a weekly basis at the Willcox Livestock Auction. Jim thoroughly enjoys this job as he likes talking to the ranchers and loves to be around cattle. He said, "What a fun job."

Jim has been team roping since he was 15-16 years old. He said, "I enjoyed roping as much as anything. I have been exceptionally lucky as I have had some really good horses." He enjoys taking a horse and teaching him something. Most of those really good horses Jim owned were trained by Jim.

He said one of the real fun things to do as a roper was to rope with his kids when they were in 4-H. He roped with his kids and any other kids that didn't have a parent that roped. Jim was a member of the Law Enforcement Rodeo Association, and he traveled around the state to rope in the LERA rodeos. At the last rodeo where Jim competed, he went out a winner as he won the senior team roping event. There is no more roping for Jim; as he put it, "My shoulder has just worn out. I can't swing a rope up over my head anymore; about all I can do now is whip myself."

Jim was captain of the Willcox Sheriff Posse and also served as President and Chaplin of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Every Wednesday and Thursday you can find Jim at the Willcox Livestock Auction inspecting cattle, talking to the ranchers and enjoying the opportunity to work in the livestock industry. If Jim is not at the auction, he is probably down in the Richland area tending to his herd of Brandish cows.

Jim has never been one to brag about himself, but Jim, I found some people that had no problem talking about you. They said you were considered a gentle giant. Your size would intimidate people, but that you were kind and caring and that you were just an all around guy. They thought your quiet demeanor transfers over to your ability to train horses. You could take a pretty much like nothing kind of a horse and in a few days make something good to ride. They thought you were great with horses. That unnamed source went on to say, that you liked to sit back and just observe people, but then they got real personal and said that you, Jim Self, were just a softie.

No, Jim you don't have to brag about yourself, I will. Jim Self has been a hired ranch hand, a day worker, a wagon boss, a ranch foreman, a horseshoer, a brand inspector and now owns a herd of Brangus cows.

I asked Jim, "What do you do for fun?" He said, "I saddle a horse, ride through them cows, ride that pasture and forget about the whole rest of the world."

Jim, it is because of your contributions to the livestock industry that a group of your peers has selected you to be inducted into the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame for 2009. Please welcome Jim Self.

Written and Presented by Eddie Browning