The mission statement for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City says it “interprets the evolving history and cultures of the American West for the education and enrichment of its diverse audiences of adults and children.”
If it’s cowboys and educators they’re looking for, Clovis’ B.J. Pierce would be a worthy choice for the Hall of Fame.
Pierce has been nominated for the prestigious honor primarily because of his famed career as a champion calf roper in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
The pinnacle of his rodeo success came in 1952, 1953 and 1954 when he won three consecutive International Rodeo Association calf-roping titles.
Friends promoting Pierce’s qualifications for the Hall of Fame said in a news release he is the only three-time IRA calf-roping champion.
But it’s the post-rodeo career in which many in the Clovis area came to know and admire Pierce on a personal level.
He was a longtime elementary school teacher and principal whose lessons went beyond the classroom.
“He was a man who not only cared if you learned school curriculum, but also cared that you learned about life,” said Clovis’ Don Reid, a sixth-grade student of Pierce’s at Highland Elementary School.
“And he also cared about the students themselves as individuals.”
Pierce paid for college — he has a master’s degree in elementary education — with winnings from his rodeo performances.
The Hall includes many names familiar to local rodeo fans, including Western actor Slim Pickens, all-around cowboy Bob Crosby — always in that trademark black, felt hat — bull riders Ty Murray and Lane Frost and steer wrestler Homer Pettigrew of Grady.
Members of the National Cowboy Museum’s Rodeo Historical Society will cast their Hall of Fame ballots in June and inductees will be honored Sept. 25-26 at the Oklahoma City museum.
It’s difficult to imagine a more worthy inductee — a world-class rodeo performer who inspired thousands in the arena and, more importantly, in the classroom where he taught individual responsibility and values — than B.J. Pierce.