Jared Lankford: Gone, but never forgotten

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Two years ago, on a trip back from Texas, my father and I found ourselves in the town of Hugo, Okla.

Hugo sits a stone’s throw from Texas and is notable for a couple of reasons.

Lankford

First, it is the winter home to two circuses. In fact, during the winter months, it had the highest concentration of elephants in North America.

On the outskirts of town, a visitor will find the second reason Mount Olivet Cemetery.

This resting place contains memorials in the form of highly decorative marble stone markers to those that dedicated their lives to entertaining in those circuses, affectionally known as the Showman’s Rest.

Also contained in memorial park are the remains of two legends of the bull riding circuit — Lane Frost and his life-long idol Warren “Freckles” Brown.

One cannot help but recall the achievement of these cowboys when viewing their marble markers.

Brown’s fame was cemented when he became the only bull rider to reach the eight-second mark on Tornado, who bucked all other 220 men who dared to ride.

Frost was a rider who I watched on Sunday nights in the living room at my grandfather’s house.

Frost, by all accounts, was a popular bull rider. He won a World Championship and was headed for superstardom.

He was a man who liked to give back.

In a sport where older veterans generally let the young riders take their lumps, Frost was notorious for spending time with any cowboy who asked for help and volunteering his riding tips.

He was a fan favorite due to his charm and charisma.

Last week, Exeter’s Mason Lowe saw his life’s ride end in Colorado when a bull landed on his chest after bucking him off.

Lowe was like Frost in the fact that he had a business personality in the chute, a giving style when it came to younger riders and a charm that won over fans all over the country. Both left this world entirely too soon at the age of 25.

The tributes posted on the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) website and Facebook told how this courageous cowboy from Barry County touched the lives of so many.

I had the pleasure to interview Lowe twice and attended his PBR ride in Springfield in 2017.

Lowe entered that ride with a hurt wrist and had told me that he needed surgery, but was leery of the recovery time.

Lowe said he knew there were several people that came to watch him, and he wasn’t about to let them down.

That night, he was bucked off his two go-rounds, and he told me he felt he had let his friends down.

It was tough for me to tell if the tears were more from the excruciating pain of his arm or the fact that he wanted so badly to put on a show for his home state fans.

Lowe was a cowboy through and through. He knew the risks of his passion and died doing what he loved.

Lowe’s legacy was still being written, but his impact will not be forgotten. He will continue to impact his sport through the lives he touched and the bull riders he helped.

The PBR has set up a fundraiser to help the Lowe family through this difficult time, and the National Western Stock Show, in conjunction with the PBR, is accepting donations online or by mail.

All donations are being made to the National Western Stock Show, a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, and all funds received will be sent to the family of Mason Lowe. In order to donate by mail, people may make checks payable to the National Western Stock Show and note on the check “Mason Lowe.” Donors will receive a donation letter from the National Western Stock Show for tax purposes. Please mail checks to:

National Western Stock Show

Attn: Mason Lowe Donations

4655 Humboldt Street

Denver, CO 80216

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com or by calling 417-847-2610.

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