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2016-07-21

From rodeo cowboy to famous western artist

By Rebecca Norton BCC Contributor

(Editor’s note: Bill Stevens contacted the Frontier Times Museum and asked that an important correction be made to his biography that appeared in last week’s edition of the Bandera County Courier. “I want the record to be straight,” he stated adamantly. “I was not born a Yankee, but rather I am a native Texan, born right in good old San Antonio.” It’ll be our pleasure, Bill.)

Along with artist Norma Jean Anderwald and singer Buck Sloan, Bill Stevens will be recognized this weekend during the National Day of the American Cowboy. The trio will be inducted into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor at 6 pm Friday, July 22, on the grounds of the Frontier Times Museum, 510 13th Street.
Additionally, Stevens will be honored during the dedication of his latest mural installed at the Bandera Fire Station. The dedication takes place at 11 am, Saturday, July 23, at Western Trail Heritage Park on Main Street.
Although he never severed his Texas roots, after his parents’ divorce, Stevens left Texas with his mother to live with her parents in New York City. Every year, Stevens attended the rodeo at Madison Square Gardens and he spent time at his grandfather’s weekend home where he rode horses and bought a roping calf to train himself in the art of rodeo.
By skipping Latin class to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and drawing, Stevens indulged his other love – art.
At Texas A&M, he developing his bull riding skills by competing on the collegiate rodeo team. While in graduate school, Stevens received his first pro rodeo card and today holds a gold lifetime card in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He continued to participate in rodeos, juggling rodeo events with his career in the corporate world.
Stevens recalls one time, after competing in the Cow Palace in San Francisco, he boarded an airplane still wearing his rodeo clothes, spurs and his number on his back to make it back to New Jersey for a morning business meeting. After the meeting, he returned to the hotel where a Halloween party was in full swing in the hotel bar. Stevens simply went back to his room, changed into his rodeo gear and joined the festivities.
However, after a series of injuries, he decided to stop bull riding because he didn’t want to show up at his job “all busted up.” Stevens later switched to tie-down calf roping as his event of choice.
After his employer, Hoffman LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, gave Stevens a choice of where he wanted to live, he decided on Bandera. A former rodeo colleague recommended Bandera and told him Ray Wharton lived here. Stevens introduced himself to Wharton and immersed himself in the local rodeo scene.
After facing another relocation for his job, he decided his happiness was more important than money, so Stevens decided to quit the corporate world to stay in Bandera.
To make a living, he went back to his love of drawing, starting Stevens Educational Consulting Services to teach children how to tell stories through drawing or cartoon strips. From there, he developed his artistic talents.
As a well-respected western artist, Stevens’ sculptures and paintings have been exhibited in numerous art shows and galleries including the Alamo Kiwanis Western Show in San Antonio; Mountain Oysters Show in Tucson, Arizona; and the Western Heritage Classic Art Show in Abilene.
In the murals that he has created, Bandera boasts of two of his largest paintings. Having lived a most extraordinary life, Stevens can say, “I have a tough time saying no, but it’s led me on a lot adventures. Having fun in life is what is important.”