Buddy Groff - all around Texas cowboy hero
By Mary Allyce Special to the Courier
Buddy Groff's awards are so numerous the obvious question was, "Do the honors ever get old?"
Shaking his head, Groff said with a decisive wink, "Nope, I'm 87 years old and this one is going to be the last one!"
"This one" is his induction into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor on Saturday, July 28, as part of the Frontier Times Museum's celebration of the National Day of The American Cowboy. Groff has been similarly instated into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Temple, the Oregon Rodeo Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, where he also sat on the board of the Rodeo Historical Society.
He was also reserve World Championship calf roper in 1954 and 1956; won Madison Square Garden in New York where he tied a calf in 3.0 seconds flat in 1954; and rodeoed from Massachusetts to Oregon and points in between. Groff competed and won in both calf roping and steer wrestling, in which his traveling and hazing partner was another familiar name - Ray Wharton.
Groff and Wharton were both honored in 1982 when their names were inscribed on the bronze monument on the Bandera County Courthouse lawn, along with fellow Texas Heroes, Toots Mansfield and Scooter Fries.
Although Buddy Groff was born on a ranch in Upper Quihi, started roping at 14 and graduated from high school in Hondo, he said, "My first real break came after I moved to Bandera in 1946. We lived across from Mansfield Park and this is where I truly learned how to rope." He began traveling with Ray Wharton and in 1948 bought the horse he rode to most of his triumphs, Little Man, a stallion off the racetrack.
Groff could have remained on his family ranch, which he and his brother helped his mother run after their father died when Groff was 16.
Honors in high school football and basketball landed him an offer to try out with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Buddy Groff wanted to be a roper. Two fat scrapbooks jammed with his photos and clippings - meticulously kept by his wife of 64 years, Bonnie - are proof he chose the right path.
Today, Buddy and Bonnie live and ranch in Hondo. Of their years together Buddy quipped in his speech in Oklahoma City, "I had a $2,500 horse, a $2,200 car, a $2,000 down payment on a house, a $500 trailer and my marriage license cost me $2. I don't have the horse, car, house or trailer anymore, but I still have the $2 wife!"
On July 28, he'll have more clippings for the scrapbooks when he's inducted into the Frontier Times Museum's Texas Heroes Hall of Honor at noon on the Bandera Courthouse lawn.
His final honor?
If it is, Bandera will be especially proud to acknowledge another Texas Hero - and member of rodeo royalty as one of its own.