WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


Terry Burgess was born in 1947, to Claude and Jesse McNair. Claude owned a ranch in the Aravaipa Canyon and within the first week of Terry's arrival on the good earth, Claude branded a heifer calf for her, and she has owned cattle ever since. Terry come from a long line of cattle people as the "PM" brand she is currently using was registered in 1904 by her grandfather, Phillip McNair, and a McNair has branded cattle in that brand ever since.

If you were being raised on a ranch in Aravaipa Canyon, Klondyke, that means nearly all your work had to be done horseback. On this ranch you didn't hook-up and load-up to go check cattle. You caught a horse, saddled up and rode off to do your work. Terry grew up in the era where you spent your summers looking for cattle with screwworms. They didn't have squeeze chutes so everything had to be roped and doctored on the ground. This roping thing also carried over into branding time. She said, "As a kid, I drug lots of calves to the branding fire, While other kids were 'running the irons', I was roping and doing the branding."

Terry attended grade school, grades 1 - 8, at the Klondyke School, and it should be noted there were four people in her 8th grade graduating class. She attended high school in Safford. She traveled to Safford Monday morning before school, boarded out during the week and then returned to the ranch Friday after school. Terry said, **I couldn't wait for Fridays to get back to the ranch."

Terry was good in school, no she was more than good; she excelled. She was a member of the National Honor Society, and she beat out the boys at the high school rodeo. Only Terry would put the National Honor Society and high school rodeos on the same level of achievement. Terry was involved in 4-H as a youngster where she had horse and steer projects. Terry said, "I always rode good horses. When I outgrew a horse there was a better one provided."

In the late sixties, Terry married into the McEuen ranching family of Fort Thomas and had some partnership cattle on their family ranch. It was in 1972, Terry's dad, Claude McNair, (who is a member of the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame), traded for the Ten Ranch, which is on the road to Safford and straddles the Cochise/Graham County line. He formed the Ten Ranch Partnership which included Terry, her sister, her brother, plus spouses. It wasn't long before the partnership put a down payment on the ranch next door and formed a second partnership. Through death, divorces and perseverance, Terry bought out the other partners. She said, "I'm probably the only person who bought a ranch, making payments on MasterCard.

In the middle of all this, Terry divorced her first husband, worked at the Willcox Livestock Auction for Big Sonny Shores and was running a few head of cattle while raising two sons. She even agreed to take care on some steers on the Hackberry Ranch. She made a dollar per head per month. What a person won't do to make a MasterCard payment! Terry has worked at the Willcox Livestock Auction on and off for nearly 30 years.

In 1987, Terry married Jack Burgess of Willcox, and they began managing the Deer Creek Ranch in the Galiuro Wilderness for the Von Trapp Family. (The movie Sound of Music was the story about the Von Trapp Family and their escape out of Nazi Germany, starring Julie Andrews as Maria). Terry said she met Maria, and she was no Julie Andrews. Maria said she like Deer Creek Ranch because it reminded her of home. Home for Maria was the Swiss Alps, so that will give you an idea how rough the mountain ranch was to work. Terry said every time they would turn around there was another maverick bull, and found 6-7 year old cows that were unbranded. She said the cattle were wild but not mean. In the next three years, Terry and Jack caught more than 250 head of maverick cattle.

Through the years, Terry and Jack like to go to the local jack pot team roping where she headed for him. The roping skills that were developed those summer months on the ranch as a kid doctoring cattle and by dragging calves to the branding fire, transferred well from the mountain sides of the Aravaipa Canyon to the roping arenas around Arizona.

Jack Burgess was certified corrections officer at Fort Grant, and that opened the door for Terry to participate in the Law Enforcement Rodeo Association (LERA). In 1990, Terry won the all-around cowgirl and champion barrel racer for the National Law Enforcement Rodeo Association.

Terry later bought out her dad's portion of the partnership and ran about 250 mother cows, but after Jack's death, she sold both ranches, keeping 40 acres and three sections of state grazing lease. Terry's son, Ty, helps her today.

Terry has been active in the Arizona Cattle Growers, President of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers, Vice-Chairman of the BLM District Grazing Advisory Board, Arizona Cattle Growers Young Cattleman of the Year and board member for both the Southern Arizona Cutting Horse Association and the National Law Enforcement Rodeo Association. She was chairman of the Graham County United Way and President of the Graham County Democratic Women's Association.

When Ty was asked what it meant for his mom to be inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, he said, "It means a great deal and you know what, she earned it."

Written and presented by Eddie Browning