ENNIS – When Byron Walker was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame last month, he had some convincing to do that it was his first time receiving the award.
The Ennis commissioner, rancher, businessman and cowboy had been at the podium before to speak on behalf of his father, Whitey Bob Walker, who was inducted in 2000.
“Many people thought that I was already in there. I gave dad’s speech when he was posthumously inducted,” Walker said.
The younger Walker had his turn when he was inducted during a March 27 ceremony in Belton.
“It took me 30 years to get here, you are not going to throw me off in three minutes,” Walker said of the time limit he was asked to keep. “I’m never short on words and I had a lot to say.”
When Walker learned he was selected for the induction, he said, “I sent out an e-mail saying two things: 'I don’t want to hurt your feelings by not asking, but you will not hurt mine by not coming.' "
Walker was joined by 40 of his guests at the induction ceremony, which was attended by more than 800 people.
“All my family was there, except my dad, who was in the Hall of Fame with me,” Walker said.
Describing his lifestyle, he said, “I’m proud to be a cowboy. I do business and live the cowboy way of life.”
A cowboy he is.
In 1969, he won his first belt buckle at Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. He represented Texas at the National High School Rodeo Finals in 1976, the same year he filed his Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association permit in a Fairfield event.
“When I was a senior in high school, I made state champion high school, College National Finals and AJRA champion national finals; the previous year I played on the state championship Ennis football team,” said Walker, a 1976 graduate of Ennis High School.
Walker continued his rodeo career, qualifying 16 times for the National Finals Rodeo in a four-decade era. In 1978, he won the PRCA season championship and in 1979 he won the National Finals Rodeo.
In 1981, he won the World Steer Wrestling Championship.
Walker, a city commissioner, proudly wore the championship belt buckle to the April meeting of the Ennis City Commission.
Today, Walker and his wife, Mary, raise championship bulls as well as other cattle on their Ennis farm. Several of their bulls have been selected for Professional Bull Rider events and World Finals Rodeos.
The Walker legacy continues through Byron's son, Reagon.
“Me and Reagon have won more state championships in rodeo than all the Ennis sports combined,” the elder Walker joked.
Reagon has won the Texas High School Region 4 and All-Around title four consecutive times.
Mike Sackett is a regular contributor to the Daily Light.