National honors for local cowboysTwo local cowboys will soon take their places among other well-known figures when they are inducted into the National Cowboy
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
Two local cowboys will soon take their places among other well-known figures when they are inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in October.
Tom Tescher of Medora and Joe Chase Jr. of Loveland, Colo. will be inducted posthumously during Rodeo Weekend at the museum, Oct. 23, 24 and 25.
Tescher and Chase will be two of nine to be inducted.
Induction into the Rodeo Hall of Fame is one of the top honors that can be bestowed on a rodeo cowboy or performer. Inductees are chosen annually by a vote of the Rodeo Historical Society membership, according to hall of fame information.
Tescher was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora in 1998, Chase was inducted in 1999.
This will be the fourth time North Dakota Hall of Famers have been inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, said Darrel Dorgan, executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Tescher, originally from Sentinel Butte, won the first North Dakota Saddle Bronc Riding Championship at Sanish in 1948 and 1950 and is described as soft-spoken and an honest man by his family and friends.
“He was very unassuming and he knew what he was going to say when he said it,” said Carol Obrigewitch, Tescher’s daughter. “He had a deep, deep faith; he believed in God and brought us up that way. That’s one of the things we’re real thankful for.”
Tescher was ranked in the top 10 of saddle bronc riders from 1955 through 1958 and qualified for the first National Finals Rodeo in Dallas in 1959. He qualified again in 1960, but passed up the chance for fame and glory because it would have meant being away from his family on Christmas Day, according to North Dakota Hall of Fame information.
Tom, along with his brother, Jim, established the Home on the Range Champions’ Ride at Sentinel Butte in 1957.
Tescher had 10 children and was married to wife Lorraine for 62 years when he passed away in 2008.
“We were very excited to hear he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Obrigewitch said. “My mom ran the ranch and raised 10 kids when my dad rodeoed, so she was instrumental. He knew it, because when he got inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame he said I couldn’t have done this without my wife.”
Joe Chase Jr. was born in 1933 near Elbowoods to Joseph Sr. and Anna Fredericks Chase. His Indian name is “Bear Necklace.” In 1949, while 16 and still in high school, he won the North Dakota Saddle Bronc Riding Championship at Sanish. With the help and encouragement from his older brother, Emanuel, the youngster from Fort Berthold was on his way to proving he was one of the world’s best riders of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, according to North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame information.
Despite opportunities to become a pro-rodeo rider when he graduated from high school, Joe headed for college and became the first North Dakotan to win National College Rodeo titles in the saddle bronc event in 1952 and 1953. Joe participated in bull riding and bull dogging and was selected runner-up for all-around cowboy.
Chase and Tescher were part of a group called the “North Dakota Six Pack,” a well-known group of cowboys who traveled the United States in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I knew both of them and they were good friends and good bronc riders,” said Alvin Nelson of Grassy Butte, also a Six Pack member. “I was glad to see both men were going to be inducted. Both of them were real honest fellows, really good to travel with and everything.”
“When Joe said you were his friend, by golly you were his friend,” Nelson said. “Tom always had a good time pulling a lot of tricks. He was a practical joker, I guess you’d say.”
Chase and his wife Jill had two children, JoAnn Kay Chase and Joey.
“He was very kind and very gentle and a little on the shy side,” said wife Jill. “Rodeo was something he really enjoyed and he was so proud of his involvement in it, in a great American sport which opened so many doors for him, to college and to business.”
Jill said she knows Joe would be happy to be inducted into the hall.
“He would feel so honored,” Jill said. “He would think it was an amazing privilege to be with the best of the best.”
For more information, visit: www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.