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Dr. Charles "Bud" Townsend - 2022

Updated: Jan 18

Rodeo Announcer

“Rodeo introduced me to so many cultures and foods and people, and it freed me from poverty and gave me ambition. Everything I’ve done goes back to that, and I’m so proud I did it.” - Charles ‘Bud’ Townsend

Charles ‘Bud’ Townsend was born November 5, 1929 in Nocona, TX to Claude and Dottie Peck Townsend. He had four brothers and two sisters. Bud grew up on his grandfather’s ranch near Nocona during the Depression. There were always horses to ride working on the ranch, or just for play. Horses were always a part of his life and he enjoyed any chore or reason to ride.

He saw his first rodeo at Northside Coliseum in Fort Worth. He saw Ruth Roach, Jasbo Fulkerson and all the big ‘toughs’. During this era rodeos were beginning to be held in small towns around Texas, such as Forestburg, Ringgold and Nocona. As a youngster he always entered the steer riding. He only remembers winning second once.

Bud enjoyed mimicking the rodeo announcer, and at one rodeo the announcer failed to arrive. On a dare he volunteered to announce. At that time, they were using a crystal microphone, which when it got too hot would quit working. He learned to put a handkerchief over it to protect it from the sun’s rays. He thoroughly enjoyed announcing and found it very rewarding and began his career announcing amateur rodeos. Ruth Roach had become a friend and she asked her good friend, Bobby Estes, a rodeo producer, if he would hire Bud. “Send him to Hamilton, Texas, rodeo,” said Estes. On the way Bud, only 16, went to Fort Worth to buy his first Stetson for $17.50 and hitched a ride on a cattle truck to Hamilton. Bud worked all of Estes’ rodeos in 1948, and some of his Wild West Shows, too. Estes gave him a belt buckle that said ‘World’s Youngest Rodeo Announcer’. He continued with Estes until 1954 and, in the course of 50 years, would also work for Homer Todd, Cotton Rosser, Beutler Brothers, Everett Colborn and eventually Walt Alsbaugh. He worked with Alsbaugh from 1962 to 1989.

Bud continued his education by going to college at Midwestern State, in Wichita Falls, TX; Baylor University and Wisconsin University ending with a PhD in history. He taught at West Texas University, Texas Tech, Hardin Simmons and then returned to West Texas A & M. He says, “I owe a great deal to my 50 years in rodeo, because I talked, while teaching, the same way I announced, and made my students learning fun!”

Bud wrote a book, entitled “San Antonio Rose, The Life and Music of Bob Wills”, published in 1976 by the University of Illinois Press. He won a Trustees Western Heritage Wrangler Award in 1975 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and a Grammy for his album notes written for the album, “Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys; For the Last Time”.

He married Mary Smith of Henrietta, Texas, while she was still in high school in 1950. They have three children, William and twins, Mary Jane and Charles, Jr.

Bud crammed so many rodeos into his 50 years as an announcer at a multitude of rodeos (see attached list of rodeos and stock contractors) and loved every minute of it. He has continued to support rodeo by his announcing at various events such as the annual Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. He received the American Cowboy Culture Award as an All-Around Cowboy, and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is an important Texan. Bud’s contributions toward sharing and preserving Western history, in demonstrating the best of the cowboy spirit, and of participating in and loving rodeos and western events have enriched and will continue to enrich the lives of many.

Died January 21, 2023


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