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Texas Heroes Hall of Honor 2016 inductees

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Photo by Judith Pannebaker
From left, artist and longtime rodeo competitor Bill Stevens, classic country-western performer Buck Sloan and the late artist Norma Jean Anderwald were recently inducted into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor at the Frontier Times Museum. Karen Hensley accepted the honor on behalf of her late mother.

The Cowboy Capital of the World paid homage to the quintessential western icon last weekend when Bandera celebrated the 11th annual National Day of the American Cowboy. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a bill proclaiming the fourth Saturday in July as a memorial to American’s most enduring hero – the cowboy.
Getting a jump on the celebration, friends, families, trustees and staff gathered on the grounds of the Frontier Times Museum the evening of Friday, July 22, to celebrate the 2016 inductions into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor. The latest inductions included artists, the late Norma Jean Anderwald, Bill Stevens and county-western music legend, Buck Sloan.
Each inductee had an exhibit in the Doane Western Art Gallery in the museum.
Norma Jean Anderwald
Karen Anderwald Hensley accepted the award on behalf of her mother, who arrived in Bandera as a college student, fell in love with and married a cowboy and never left. An accomplished painter and sculptor, Anderwald’s legacy lives on in her bronze sculpture, “Monument of the Champion Cowboys of Bandera County,” located on the courthouse lawn.
Accepting the honor, Hensley said, “What makes my mother a Texas hero to me is the monument on the courthouse lawn that my Uncle Frank Anderwald asked her to design and have cast in bronze. Now I know what a wonderful gift my mother gave to Bandera.”
Bill Stevens
Described as a “Cowboy Renaissance Man,” Stevens not only holds a lifetime Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Gold Card, but he is also renowned throughout the country for his true depictions of the western life in oil paintings and bronzes.
Stevens’ latest contributions to the Cowboy Capital include a pair of larger-than-life murals of Kelly Scott and his chuck wagon greeting visitors as they enter Bandera via Highway 16 and a trail drive crossing the Medina River that was recently installed on the side of the Bandera Fire Station on Main Street.
Accepting the honor, Stevens recalled making a decision to eschew a former corporate life and remain in Bandera for his ropin’ and art. “At that time, I had never stayed anywhere as long as the 10 years I lived in Bandera,” he said. “I had a family here and a plane ticket out. I recalled the adage ‘To thy own self be true,’ and I decided to stay. This is my family and I love you all.”
Buck Sloan
By his own account, county-western performer Buck Sloan has been playing music since the Great Depression and that was in 1929, folks! He’s also proud to be front man for the Buckshots, the “oldest” country western band in Texas – in terms of the members’ years walking the earth, that is.
For the last 40 years, Sloan, 89, and his wife, Shirley, a mere youth at 74, have held a musicians’ reunion in Bandera, and it’s still going strong.
Sloan recalled his first guitar was made from a “square oilcan and some used guitar strings.” Later, he purchased a “professional” model that cost $4 from Sears & Roebuck.
While serving in the United States Army during World War II, Sloan stormed the beaches at Normandy and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. “One evening, I was playing the harmonica and I heard a German across the way playing one, too,” Sloan told the crowd. “We traded songs for several nights and by the time we were finished, I had learned to play ‘Lili Marlene’.”
Sloan wanted everyone to know that the Musicians’ Reunion will take place on August 14 at Mansfield Park in Bandera.
Mark calendar now for next year’s celebration of the National Day of the American Cowboy.
More images from the 2016 Texas Heroes Hall of Honor induction ceremony will be published in the Thursday, August 4, edition of the Bandera County Courier.