Ellensburg, Wash., farrier Frank Beard passed away Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. He was 92.
Raised in Toppenish, Wash., he loved horses from his earliest days. Even as a youngster, Beard excelled at buying, trading and breaking horses. He attended school in Toppenish where he was a gifted athlete and skilled boxer. His first job was riding horses for early world champion bronc rider Lee Caldwell, who encouraged Beard’s desire to be a rodeo competitor.
Following his passion, Beard competed in rodeos around the Pacific Northwest. He was an all-around talent in the saddle bronc, bareback and calf roping events, but enjoyed his greatest success as a bronc rider, winning several rodeos. To augment his rodeo winnings, Beard worked for noted stock contractor Johnny Van Belle at his ranch in Outlook, Wash. The job had benefits he hadn't bargained for. When Van Belle's daughter Charlot returned home on college semester break, the youngsters were smitten. After a whirlwind romance, they married on Sept. 3, 1947. True to their rodeo roots, they honeymooned at the Moses Lake Rodeo, where Beard won the bronc riding.
With a young and growing family, he cut back on rodeo competition, transitioning into a top-notch pickup man. He continued to trade and train horses and was a highly-skilled farrier. He was also an accomplished packer, helping lead tours around Mount Rainier and the Wallowa Mountains during the summer and acting as a hunting guide during the fall.
Beard shared his love of horses and extensive knowledge with anyone interested in learning. The Beard ranch was a community gathering place, filled with friends, family, and horses. Frank and Charlot were active in 4-H programs and their children's school activities. Their home was always open to youngsters in need of a place to stay and a guiding hand.
In the 1970s, rodeo's siren song drew Beard back to the arena. Supported by family and loyal friends, he founded Beard Rodeos. He earned a reputation for his award-winning livestock and honesty in dealing with rodeo committees and contestants. Supported by top rodeo riders, Beard Rodeos joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1987. Beard’s stock excelled at Northwest rodeos including Ellensburg, Pendleton, Lewiston, Sisters and Hermiston. At the National Finals in Las Vegas, Nev., his bucking stock won many awards. Beard was intensely committed to making every rodeo as good as possible and had an unswerving sense of fair play. He helped many cowboys get their start and was always there to help a contestant in need. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport, Beard was inducted into several rodeo halls of fame.
A private family graveside service was held and a celebration of life will be held when it is safe to do so. Memorial contributions in Beard’s honor are suggested to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919 or online at justincowboycrisisfund.org. Online condolences may be left at johnston-williams.com.
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