WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


Chad Bourne was born in Trinidad, Colorado, on June 11, 1932, to Milton and Fern Bourne. He had one younger sister, Bev. Chad was married in 1957, to Irene Kowalecki, and they had two children, daughter Janine and son Button. Most people do not know that Button's real name is Ernie. Chad's best friend was Ernie Hart so Chad had a boy and named him Ernie and Ernie had a boy and named him Chad.

As a youngster growing up, he always loved riding horses, but he also liked to sing and write short stories. But make no mistake, Chad started working cattle and riding horses at a young age, and he never wanted to do anything else, including going to school. The family was living in Silver City, New Mexico, and Chad's Dad, Milton, knew Chad was not attending school like he should. So Milton made the arrangements for some "tough love" and Chad was picked up by the local truant officer and spent a night in jail. The next morning Chad was released and promptly went to work on a ranch in the Gila Wilderness outside of Silver.

Chad came to Willcox in 1961, where he was a cowboy to many of the old time ranches around Willcox; the Muleshoe Ranch, the Three Links, the Tri W Ranch, as well as, the Diamond Bar Ranch in New Mexico. He also worked for Tom Sellman, Butch Harris, Bob Straub, Jack Nelson, Dave Harris, Sonny Shores, R.L. Robbs and worked right beside Sonny Davis, Jack Tunks and Butterfly Cowan.. What is unique about this list...? Every one of them Tom, Butch, Bob, Jack, Dave, Sonny, Jack, Butterfly and RL are all in the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame. Well R.L. is not at the moment, but here in about 15 minutes he will be. The point is those who knew him the best, knew he was dependable and was good help. This is how they described Chad: "He was a died-in-the-wool cowpuncher." "He was always where he needed to be." "He did whatever needed to be done at a branding." "He was one hell of a nice guy."

Chad smoked Prince Albert in a can, which means he rolled his own. Every morning you could find Chad and Johnny Logan in the Truck Stop from 3:00AM until 6:00AM. Chad wouldn't eat breakfast, just sit and talk, drink coffee and smoke the cigarettes he rolled. This happened every morning, unless he was headed somewhere to work cattle.

Chad was the ultimate day worker. He has worked for nearly everyone in the area that owned cattle and needed extra help. He was always headed somewhere between 3:30 and 4 o'clock in the morning just so he would be there on time.. On time heck, he would arrive an hour earlier than necessary. You would find him setting in his pickup rolling a cigarette. He was just never late.

When Chad made up his mind about something it took an Act of Congress to change it and sometimes that wouldn't have been enough. Chad just never got too excited about anything or never got too riled up. Things could be going to "hell in a hand basket" around him and his response would be. Oh! Hell it all pays the same.

The story was told that one morning Chad and Jack Tucks were headed to work traveling in a pickup and pulling a trailer, Jack was driving. They were headed somewhere in a hurry when they hit a wet spot in the road which started the truck sliding sideways, the trailer had jack knifed and now the whole rig is sliding down the road sideways. Jack looked over at Chad and he was still rolling his cigarette just trying not to spill the tobacco. Jack said, "Chad Bourne, he just never got stirred up about nothing."

Chad worked for the Willcox Livestock Auction for many, many years, and he usually had the girls in the office all riled up. Each week he would receive a pay check, but he wouldn't cash it right away. When I say he wouldn't cash is right away... he was known to have 6 months of uncashed checks in his pickup, and the bookkeepers could not close out their monthly books as they were waiting for Chad's checks to clear.

Chad Bourne never owned a ranch, and I think that was just fine with him. He made the statement one time that he didn't want to own anything that he couldn't put in the back of his pickup. But make no mistake, Chad wanted to be a cowboy, and he was proud of the work he did. He was born on a ranch in Colorado and has punched cows all his life except when he served our country in the Army, during the Korean Conflict. Even in his later years, he was still helping the local ranchers, if the work could be done horseback, as he was a little too stove-up to do much work on the ground. Chad said the only way his life would ever change was when he couldn't get up on his horse anymore..

Well that day finally came. Chad was still working for Willcox Livestock Auction, and he was 7071 years old and it was time to "go to work". Chad went to get his horse and mount up for the day. His left hand picked up his bridle reins, and he got a hold of the mane. His right hand took the saddle horn, but his foot never reached the stirrup again. Chad knew he was done and walked away not with a broken spirit, but he had just plain worn out his body.

Chad Bourne was a very honest plain and simple cowboy. He looked like the Marlboro Man, but rolled his own. He had a dry sense of humor. He was a cow puncher, a brush popper, he was just an "old timer."

Chad died November, 28, 2005, at the age of 73.