Photo by Budweiser Events Center
A memorial service was held Monday, March 6 for legendary rodeo announcer Hadley Barrett, who passed away Thursday morning at University Hospital in Denver.Barrett’s heart gave out at age 87.
The service began at 1:30 p.m. at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo. A reception was held in an adjacent building.
Barrett was a living legend. He was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1999 as an announcer. His passing was reported in publications from Montana to Texas. Friends in his birthplace of North Platte remembered him with abiding fondness and respect.
Barrett was born Sept. 18, 1929, in North Platte and raised on a ranch.
As a young man, he became a rodeo contestant and formed his own dance band – Hadley Barrett and the Westerners -- which often played the dances after the rodeos. The band performed for 34 years, into the 1980s. They opened for such national music stars as Carl Perkins and Little Jimmy Dickens.
Barrett, his brothers and the rest of the Westerners were inducted into the Nebraska Country Music Hall of Fame.
But Barrett's enduring place in rodeo history was calling the action behind the microphone.
That began in the early 1950s, when he was asked by a rodeo announcer to fill in at the microphone while the announcer competed in a couple rodeo events – something that wasn’t all that unusual at the time, Barrett told the Fencepost magazine in 2009. He applied his “microphone experience” as a singer and band leader to the job. Rodeo committees began to ask him to do more announcing. His first full rodeo announcer job was in Arnold, he told the Fencepost.
A Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association member since 1965, Barrett announced all the big rodeos during his career, as well as a great number of smaller ones across the country.
“This man set the standard by which all rodeo announcers are judged by,” Nebraskaland Days Executive Director David Fudge said, “and, at the same time, he was one of the most gracious people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. He'll be sorely missed around our place.”
He was the voice of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo during Nebraskaland Days for more than 30 years; the voice of the Sidney (Iowa) Championship Rodeo since 1983; the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede for more than 20 years; and he announced the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo for more than a decade.
Barrett told the Loveland (Colo.) Reporter Herald in 2015 that he’d called a rodeo in approximately 45 states, plus one in Australia. He also called the action at the Canadian Finals Rodeo seven times.
Barrett was recognized as the PRCA announcer of the year four times -- in 1983, 1985, 1989 and 2002.
He had worked five National Finals Rodeos (1968, 1976, 1979, 1983 and 2008) as well as the 1967 National Finals Steer Roping. He worked as a National Final Rodeo ESPN television announcer since 1980.
He was still working when he passed away. He'd just finished announcing the rodeo in San Antonio, Texas and was booked to announce the Austin Rodeo.
He was among the first to announce the action while on horseback, as he did in North Platte, with his son-in-law Randy Corley sharing the announcements from the booth. Hadley took an honest, sincere approach to everything he did, and spoke as though he was a friend to everyone. He was a true gentleman cowboy, his admirers say.
“He had that capacity just to get up and love every day he was in touch with the rodeo business,” veteran rodeo announcer Wayne Brooks said. “It’s that passion that kept him going. He loved the game as much as he loved his family. He was an amazing man.”
He lived south of Kersey, not far from Greeley, Colo. on a small ranch with his wife, where they raised golden retrievers and a small herd of pinto horses, the Fencepost reported in 2009.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to his memorial fund to help pay for his service. Checks may be sent to any First National Bank, made out to Hadley Barrett Memorial Fund, they said.
A gofundme account has also been established at https://www.gofundme.com/hadley-barrett-memorial-fund.
The PRCA contributed to this report.