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Texas Heroes Hall of Honor inductees

By Rebecca Norton BCC Contributor

Trustees, staff and volunteers with the Frontier Times Museum kick off this year’s annual National Day of the American Cowboy celebration by inducting two local artists and a legendary country-western singer into their Texas Heroes Hall of Honor.
Artist Bill Stevens, sculptor Norma Jean Anderwald and musician Buck Sloan will receive their place among great Texans at a reception and ceremony on Friday, July 22, at the Texas Trail Drivers Theatre on the museum grounds at 510 13th Street in Bandera. Starting at 6 pm, the ceremony is open to the public. Justin Eccles will provide the entertainment.
The ceremony will also recognize past inductees we have lost, including Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson and rodeo champions, Ray Wharton, Buddy Groff and Scooter Fries. Along with the ceremony, inductees will have a display area in the museum’s Hall of Heroes with items highlighting their lives and careers.
Artist Bill Stevens
William Jamison Stevens II, or “Bill” as he is known in Bandera, moved here in 1987 to pursue his lifelong interest in all things western. Before coming to Bandera, Stevens traveled far from his New York roots. At the age of 14 at his grandfather’s home in Pennsylvania, he began taking riding lessons.
His love of riding and horses led him to participate in his first rodeo just a year later. Stevens enrolled at Texas A&M to be a part of their rodeo team. He competed in intercollegiate rodeos, qualifying for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association finals in bull riding in 1970. After a career in the corporate world, he found himself in Bandera to rekindle his first love – the cowboy way of life.
After enrolling in several artist workshops at the Cowboy Artists of America Museum – now the Museum of Western Art – in Kerrville, Stevens’ innate artistic talents developed and he grew to be one of the most respected western artist in Texas in both paintings and sculpture.
As Bandera’s “artist in residence,” Stevens has contributed to Bandera’s reputation as the Cowboy Capital of the World by painting two large murals depicting the cowboy way of life. His chuck wagon scene of fellow Texas Heroes inductee Kelly Scott welcomes visitors arriving in Bandera on Highway 16. His second mural of longhorns being driven across the Medina River on the side of the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department station house will have its debut on the National Day of the American Cowboy, July 23rd.
Stevens have been born a Yankee, but he’s a true Texan now.
Artist Norma Jean Anderwald
Another local artist, Norma Jean Anderwald, will be inducted posthumously, and her daughter, Karen Hensley, will accept the honor on behalf of her late mother.
The Fort Worth native began drawing scenes of the old west at the young age of 10. Trained as a commercial artist, Anderwald received recognition for her creative magazine advertisements.
After coming to Bandera, she designed the famous Zeke character used as a mascot for the Bandera Stompede in the 1950s. Anderwald also organized the Stompede’s Cowbells, a group of young women who served as ambassadors for Bandera County by traveling to other South Texas towns and riding on parade floats designed by the artist and built by her husband, Gabe Anderwald.
Anderwald’s imagination and love of cowboys and Native Americans came to life in her artwork. As a well-respected South Texas artist, she became a member of numerous art groups such as the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts where she won Artist of the Year in Sculpture in 1987 and the Kerrville Art Club who honored her as Artist of the Year in 1995.
Her sculpture also captured the greatest of Bandera’s own rodeo stars. Anderwald sculpted a bust of seven-time world champion calf roper Toots Mansfield, a 2009 Texas Heroes Hall of Honor inductee.
Her legacy lives on in in her bronze sculpture, “Monument of the Champion Cowboys of Bandera County,” prominently displayed on the courthouse lawn.
Singer Buck Sloan
This year’s final inductee is a well-loved singer, Buck Sloan of Houston. Sloan embodies classic county-western music and proudly claims that his band, the Buckshots, is the “oldest” country western band in Texas – that is oldest in the age of the band members.
Buck is 89, his wife Shirley is 74 and other performers are not much younger.
Born in 1924, Buck came of age during the Great Depression when his only possession was a guitar. A talented musician who has played with many legendary country-western musicians, Sloan has been inducted into the Western Swing Music Society of the Southwest Hall of Fame.
His objective has always been to preserve and keep classical “old time” country music alive. Every year, Sloan holds an annual musicians’ reunion in Bandera, and each week he performs a Saturday night show, the Buckshot Jamboree. The Jamboree is his personal museum and dancehall near downtown Houston.
The building includes an eclectic collection of all the things Buck and Shirley have accumulated over the years, including the guitar he bought as a kid for $4.50.
A true Texas character, Sloan keeps traditional country music – and the spirit of Texas – alive.