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Mark Arnold rode Rebel and Rickey Green rode QC to the win at the 1984 BFI.  – Photo by Lorena J. Blodget

By Kendra Santos
Special To Ropers Sports News

Rickey Green was an all-around hand whose many well-earned titles in life included Loving Husband to his dearly beloved wife, Kelly, whom he met during her reign as Miss Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in 1983; Doting Dad to their Texas A&M-grad, darling daughter, Whitney Capri; Cowboy Comedian; Crossfire King; and Loyal Friend to the thousands of us lucky enough to have lived it.

William Rickey Green was born July 4, 1957 in Stockton, California, the eldest of Virgil and the late Charlotte Green’s five kids. Rickey’s four little sisters included Marcelyn Rochelle Stewart (Bill), who was 11 months to the day younger than Rickey; Rennette Lewis (Rick); Rynea Vandeburgh (Dan); and Rhonda Mercado (Rudy).

Virgil Green—whose brother, Vernon, raised two NFR team ropers in Daniel and Chris; and sister, Darlene, is the wife of World Champion Team Roper Walt Woodard, and mom to NFR heeler Travis Woodard—was close to his only son all his life.

“Rickey and I always had fun together,” said Virgil, an Oklahoma native who raised his family in California, and recently relocated to Morgan Mill, Texas, to live with Rickey, Kelly, and Whitney. “There’s never been any conflict. A family friend said one time, ‘You and Rickey act like you’re best friends, not father and son.’ We were always laughing, and having a great time. Rickey was always a little bitty, skinny kid. I used to try to get him to work out. He said, ‘Dad, I don’t think I should work out. I might get muscle-bound, and I won’t be able to rope as fast.’

Kelly, Whitney, and Rickey Green at Whitney's graduation from Texas A&M.

Everett, Virgil, and Rickey Green. Everett is Virgil’s brother, and Rickey’s uncle.

Rickey with his four younger sisters.

“Rickey was always having fun, and he liked everybody. He was always like that. I roped with Rickey the other day, and he was roping ’em right around the corner. The next morning, he had a stroke.”

Tests done after the stroke revealed that Rickey had plasma cell leukemia. Doctors gave him two to three months to live, but about three weeks after the stroke—at 61 on October 10—the roping and rodeo world was shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of one of its most renowned and popular people.

Rickey had a huge rodeo family, including Godfather of Team Roping Bob Feist, who for the rest of time will be the voice talking us all through many
a Rickey run at the NFR and Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping Classic back in the day.

“I’ve known Rickey most of his life, and will never forget a roping road trip we took to several states when he was just out of high school,” Feist said. “I loaded up Rickey and Cowboy, who was very young and probably didn’t weigh 900 pounds at the time, and we headed north to Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. Rickey hadn’t been away from his family much, and he got homesick. But we had a big time.

“When Rickey and Mark Arnold won the BFI in 1984, it meant a lot to me personally, because I’d known them both since they were kids. Now they’re both gone, and roping at the big roping in the sky.”
The Godfather’s right-hand (wo)man in the BFI all those years, and Ropers Sports News then and now, Stephanie Anderson, was like a sister to Rickey.

“Rickey and the whole Green family have touched my life from the first steer I roped until the last,” Anderson said. “There were no better people in the world than the Green and Woodard families to help a struggling cowgirl and team roper when I first met them in the early ’70s. They’re just a great family.”

Rickey coached Steph Anderson and Kelly to the Women's Team Roping Association title in 1998.

Rickey was renowned as one of the original team roping gunslingers. It’s a well-known fact that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s crossfire rule was put in place to counteract Rickey’s disregard of conventional roping rules. He later earned a reputation as one of the best-known teachers in the team roping game. In addition to winning the 1984 BFI with “Pickles,” Rickey’s career highlights included 10 trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Rickey roped at his first NFR in 1977 with Joe Murray, and partners from the RG heading herd over the years also included Bob McClelland, Julio Moreno, Bret Boatright, Steve Branco, Doyle Gellerman, Jake Milton, Brian Burrows, and Charles Pogue, with whom Rickey won the 1988 NFR average title. Rickey’s most renowned horses included his signature tall, black horse, Cowboy; another black by the name of QC (which was short for Quicker Than Cowboy); a sorrel horse he called Hutch; and Johnny Ringo, who was grey.

Bob McClelland and Rickey decided to amateur rodeo back east in 1980, and at year's end they were the champs.

Rickey’s roping style was way more wild than conservative. So it should surprise no one that even his NFR average win had a crowd-wowing exclamation point on it.

“We roped our last steer at the biggest rodeo in the world to win it,” Charles remembers well. “The steers were big, and his horse got hit sideways right as we got faced. Rickey was really pulling back and excited, and down they went. But he never took his eyes off of that clock on the scoreboard. He knew everything had come tight before the crash. The way it worked out, it was all the better for Rickey. We won the average and the crowd went wild, so it worked out perfectly. We got the buckles, and Rickey brought the house down.

“The Rickey stories never end, and it just puts a smile on your face when you think of him. He always brightened everybody’s day. Rickey was just so positive, and full of energy. And talk about a cutup. He might embarrass you sometimes, but we all had so much fun with Rickey. Of all the guys I rodeoed with, good grief, he was right there at the top.”

“Rickey was wild and crazy in his earlier days, just like the rest of us,” said NFR header McClelland, who some of you might also remember as the guy who sold Speed Williams what would become his signature, sorrel long-game horse, Bob, who was the perfect complement to his short-score, NFR ace, Viper. “Rickey had a gusto for being flamboyant. He loved the spotlight, and he didn’t need fancy shirts like Casey Tibbs to be in it. I was around Rickey since he was 12 or 14, and he lived with me two different times. Rickey just had a style all his own.

Crossfire King Rickey Green doing work back before his signature move was outlawed.

“It’s true what they say about the PRCA putting in the crossfire rule to try and stop Rickey from throwing so fast, which as his header drove me up the wall at times. He’d get mad at me for getting mad at him for crossfiring when it wasn’t necessary. But he was good at it, and it was a chance for glory.

“I probably talked to Rickey more in the two months before he died than we had in 10 years or so, and he called one day because he wanted to know why we won three out of the four go-rounds at Prescott one year and didn’t win the average. We won second in the first go-round. Then Rickey crossfired in the second and third rounds, and we won both of those. The reason we didn’t win the rodeo was because Rickey crossfired on our fourth steer and missed him, when a layup would have won the rodeo. That was just Rickey.”

Moreno roped with Rickey at the Finals twice, in 1982-83.

“Rickey was quite the guy,” Julio said. “He was so much fun, and he was always laughing. He’d only get serious when we’d rope. He gritted his teeth when we rode in that box. Other than that, he was happy-go-lucky, and always joking. He liked to sing and have fun with songs, like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Stuck in Lodi’ or ‘I Wear My Sunglasses at Night.’ Sometimes he put his own words and rhymes into songs and sang them his way, with his own little twists.

“They might as well have called the crossfire rule the Rickey Green Rule. Rickey could reach around the corner like Junior (Nogueira) does today. When I was heading for him, I could hear his rope coming by me, and I’d darn near fall off my horse trying to face so fast. We might be roping over a 40-foot score, and Rickey’d be right behind my head horse going at ’em. I’d barely be getting out of the way, and Rickey would be throwing. Rickey really was the best at it.”

Back before Brazilian phenom Junior Nogueira, Rickey Green was pulling off wild shots of his own—and rearing back to boot.

Julio and Rickey were in the lead for the world championship one year in August, “and we had a steer run hard to the left at the rodeo in Murray, Utah,” Julio remembers well. “I can remember Rickey switching hands with his rope and reins, and he roped that steer left-handed in two swings to compensate for that wall. The only way Rickey was going to get around that corner was to grab him left-handed. So he did, we were 7.8, and we won fourth.”

There was another time when they were leaving the rodeo in Vernal, Utah, and were headed out of town on a windy road back toward Colorado. “It was getting dark, and Rickey said he was going to rope a deer or an elk. We were in a two-seater truck, and seeing all kinds of them. I was driving, so Rickey ties a rope off to the frame between the front and back windows on the passenger side. Rickey was trying to rope an elk and missed him, but he did catch a great, big rock. That rope popped and snapped like a gun going off. That was Rickey. He enjoyed life, and always had a good time.”

One year over the Fourth of July run, Julio and Rickey flew into Prescott, Arizona, from Greeley, Colorado.

“We couldn’t find a ride from the airport to the rodeo,” Julio said. “So Rickey hot wires an airport maintenance truck for us to ‘borrow.’ We roped at the rodeo, then we couldn’t find a room. They were all sold out for the Fourth of July. So we took that airport maintenance truck back to the rodeo grounds, and slept in the Coors truck that they were selling beer out of. The back was unlocked, so we slept on our rope bags on each side of the taps. We had an early morning flight, so we went back to the airport, put the airport maintenance truck right back where we found it, and flew back out to Cody.

“When I was picking up for Flying U, Rickey always wanted to help me. He said he wanted to wear a white shirt and a tie, and play pickup man. We were at the rodeo in Central Point, Oregon, and Rickey had seen me roping all the horses after the cowboys got off, then trip the flanks. He got out there in the arena with me, and I told him, ‘I’ll get the cowboy, then you can go in and get the flank.’ Here comes the next guy, the whistle barely blows, and Rickey ropes the horse with the bareback rider still on him. That was not according to plan. The guy jumped off the opposite way to be sure he wasn’t going to get in some sort of wreck. Rickey was just so talented and hilarious. You just never knew how things were going to go with Rickey around.”

In Moreno’s mind, a big part of Rickey’s success as a roping instructor was his sincere love of people—all people.

“He could talk to the richest or poorest people, best or worst dressed people,” said Julio, who lived with Rickey for a couple years. “It didn’t matter who they were, or how much they knew. Rickey was a people person, and he made all people comfortable. A guy in coveralls could relate to Rickey just as well as a guy in starched jeans. Rickey made all people feel comfortable. He was the best at that. And he knew how to get his point across.”

Boatright roped at 14 NFRs in his cowboy career, and roping with Rickey his rookie year in 1978 was a huge highlight.

“Roping with Rickey was an experience, I promise you that,” Boater said. “I think the best way to put it is that Rickey was entertaining. When we started roping, I was an 18-year-old kid from Kansas, and Rickey was a 20-year-old kid from California. Rickey’s folks lived in a trailer house in Stockton, and they really didn’t have room for me. So Rickey and I decided we were going to rent an apartment. But they wanted first and last month’s rent, so the next thing you know, Rickey and I are living in a hotel.

“We thought that was great. Clean sheets, clean towels, and (because that was back before cell phones) they gave us our phone messages every day. We kept our horses at Randy Robinson’s place in French Camp. Rickey woke me up to go to a rodeo one morning, and I said, ‘Hey, I have a shirt that looks just like that.’ And Rickey said, ‘Yeah, this is your shirt. These are your socks, too. I don’t have any clean clothes.’

Charles Pogue and Rickey Green didn’t close the deal on the 1988 NFR team roping average title until Round 10, and not without a little classic Rickey crowd-wowing a tick of the clock after getting the flag on a 5.5-second run. – Photos by Brenda Allen

“One of my best stories was one year right after the Cow Palace was over. I didn’t make the Finals, and was headed back to Kansas from San Francisco. There was an eight-steer roping in Nevada on my way home, so Rickey and I were going to meet there. I get to the roping, and no Rickey. I entered us. Still no Rickey, so I went up and asked them to move us to the bottom. Rickey finally showed up, and I asked him where he’d been. He said, ‘You won’t believe this, but I’m broke. I need some hamburger money. So if this first steer’s good, let’s try to win something.

“I reached, hung it on him, Rickey roped him, we get to the back end, and Rickey says, ‘What are you doing? This is an eight steer, and I need some money.’ And I said, ‘I thought you said you needed some hamburger money, so I went at him.’ Anyway, we won the round, and we got Rickey some hamburger money. Then I said, ‘Tell me the story. Where have you been?’ And Rickey said, ‘I ran out of money. I didn’t have enough money for gas to get here, so I traded all my eight-track tapes and my tool box off to the gas attendant for a tank of gas. That was pretty funny, because Rickey’s tool collection amounted to a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.”

California’s Chowchilla Stampede was one of the big-deal open ropings during these guys’ glory days, and one year Bret and Rickey ran to town for food between rounds.

“Rickey had a Ford LTD with a two-horse trailer,” Boater said. “We were headed back to the roping, a guy runs a stop sign, and broadsides us. We had to get to a rodeo that night after the roping. Virgil said he’d work on the car, so we could take the car to the rodeo. The wreck had knocked the headlights out of it. We get done at the roping, and Virgil has baling wired new headlights onto that car.

“So off we went, and we were headed down the Freeway on I-99. Rickey wasn’t slowing down. I said, ‘Rickey, this is our exit.’ Rickey went to pushing both feet on the brakes, and saying he couldn’t get it to stop or even slow down. He said, ‘What do I do?’ I told him not to throw it into neutral or it would ruin the transmission. I told him to try turning the key off. He did that, we finally got it pulled over, and made it to the rodeo. Yes, roping with Rickey was an experience.”

Boater roped with Rickey at the second BFI ever held, back in 1978, when they ran six steers over a 35-foot score in Chowchilla.

“He roped a leg on our first steer, and he was mad,” Bret recalls. “I was like, ‘Hey, we’re OK. We can get back in this roping. I thought he was cussing because he’d roped a leg. But no—Rickey was mad because he hadn’t crossfired the first steer at the BFI. When it was all said and done, we won second (behind champs Larry Goss and Mike Garrison). There was never a bad day for Rickey. He was always going to make it work. Rickey was just joyful. And he made everybody laugh.”

Chowchilla native and NFR header Steve Branco was another of Rickey’s partners and roommates over the years.

“Rickey and I roped as second partners at a lot of jackpots and a few rodeos,” said the guy best known as Poo Bear in the cowboy community, who picked Rickey as the best man at his wedding. “Me and Rickey had a lot of fun together. Rickey was a great guy who would do anything for anybody. He’d help a bum on the street, if he needed a hand. Rickey could make friends with anyone, and he was a character about it. He had all kinds of tricks and games he played with people.

“When it came to roping, Rickey was thinking all the time about loop position, horse position, and how to catch the steer on the first hop. Bottom line, he always wanted to catch one faster. Rickey was a thinker, and he was always trying new things in the practice pen. I talked to Rickey toward the end one day, and he said, ‘I hope I left my mark, Poo.’ I told him, ‘Yeah, you did leave your mark. You’re the reason the PRCA came up with the crossfire rule, which ought to be called the Rickey Green Rule.’ They talk about Junior Nogueira rearing back. Rickey Green had already done that.”

Like all successful teams, their styles were complementary.

“Reaching was never my game,” Branco said. “I always rode horses that ran really good. Rickey and I could go further down the arena and still win something, because he threw so fast. He could get it on ’em right on the corner. He could heel a steer coming in on the gain. We worked on it, and practiced it at home. He knew I couldn’t reach, so he made up for it—even over the longer scores.”

Branco has all kinds of classic Rickey memories, like the time Rickey, Julio, and him were pulling into a rodeo in Idaho, and Rickey kept grinding the gears on Julio’s truck. “Julio said, ‘Hey, how about that clutch?’ Rickey fired back with, ‘Buy an automatic next time.’ Then there was the time we entered the wild cow milking at the rodeo in Laton (California), and Rickey roped two cows around the neck at the same time. It was always something and never boring with Rickey. And he was a great friend.”

Daniel Green was sure proud to be Rickey’s cousin, and says he learned some priceless roping lessons from him, even though Daniel mostly headed and Rickey mostly heeled.

“When I was young, I had my tip too low all the time,” Daniel remembers. “I always swung my rope with the angle of my loop the same all the time. My swing worked on flat-horned steers, but not on the others. Rickey showed me that my tip was too low, and told me to match my tip to each steer’s horns. It made a huge difference in my reaching. I show that to everybody I teach today—swing the tip of your rope to where the tip of the horns are. Line up the tip with those horns.

“There was so much to Rickey. He was that jokester who put the smile on your face. And he was that guy who thought a little bit outside of the box. Rickey was not confined by the normal parameters of what average people think. He was just one of the most amazing talents in the world, and the stories I heard about him as a kid were just unbelievable.

Rickey driving to the next one with his famous rodeo cat and co-pilot, Crossfire; and with his beloved Bear, who's a Queensland-St. Bernard cross.

“I think maybe it was Leo (Camarillo) who bet Rickey a $20 steak dinner that he couldn’t half-swing the last steer when he was roping with Virgil at a roping that paid $2,500 a man. Rickey won the roping and got the dinner that night. Rickey was that guy who was going to figure out how to win on that steer no one’s ever won anything on. He was just unreal, and that’s why he’s a legend.”

Daniel sees Rickey’s legacy as diverse, yet pretty simple, really.

“It was extremely hard to be around Rickey and not have a smile on your face when you left,” Daniel said. “What would any of us want said about us when we’re gone? That we made a difference in people’s lives, and made their lives better would be about as good as it gets. And I truly feel that that’s what Rickey did. He made us all better, and left us in a good mood.”

Four-time World Champion Team Roper Allen Bach was one of Rickey’s closest friends and heeling contemporaries.

“I was just kind of an awkward kid from Washington when I moved to California,” Allen said. “I met Rickey and Peggy (Allen’s wife) at the same time. God puts certain people together in life for certain reasons. I needed Rickey as a best friend when I started out, and he was there for me. Rickey embraced me, and we were inseparable for years and years. His laughing and jokes helped me not be so serious about life. I was a better me when I was around Rickey. He didn’t want anything from anybody. There was no agenda. He just wanted to make people feel good.

“When I roped with Jimmie Cooper in the ’80s, Jimmie was a pretty serious guy. But Rickey could get Jimmie to laughing and kidding around. Everybody marveled that Rickey had that gift. He helped us all see the lighter side of life. He was a cowboy through and through, and he loved the sport of team roping. Rickey was a one-of-a-kind individual, and he literally got up every day wanting to make somebody feel good. He just wanted to put a smile on someone’s face.

“I thank God that He put Rickey in my life at a time when I really needed it. What Lane Frost did for Tuff Hedeman, Rickey Green did for me. Lane brought out the best in Tuff, just like Rickey did me. Not everyone is blessed to have someone like that in their life, but it’s awesome when it happens. Rickey spent a lot of Thanksgivings and Christmases with us. He was family.”

One night at the NFR when it was in Oklahoma City stands out above all the others when Allen thinks of Rickey.

“It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in rodeo history,” Allen said. “It was in the ninth or 10th round, and Brian Burrows missed a steer for Rickey. Brian was busy trying to coil up, and by the time he got his second loop built, Rickey had ocean-waved the steer around slick horns and headed him. It was the most phenomenal catch I’ve ever seen in my life.

“Rickey had dropped his reins, and as he was dragging the steer for Brian to heel him, his saddle was going further and further off to the side. He eventually fell off. When Rickey jumped up, he threw both hands in the air, that full-house crowd went wild, and gave him a standing ovation. I was the next guy to rope, and about wet my pants watching that. Everybody talked about it. Those of us who were there that night still do. It was like, ‘Did you see that?’ Only Rickey. Clay O’Brien Cooper wasn’t going to do that. I wasn’t going to do it, either. Only Rickey, and he pulled it off. It was hysterical. I’d give anything to have that footage. The world was just a better place with Rickey in it.”

Seven-time World Team Roping Titlists Jake Barnes and Clay O were the dream teamers of Rickey’s generation. Jake and Clay were also basically brothers to Rickey.

“Rickey was the most unique person I’ve ever met in my life,” Jake said. “I wish I had a little Rickey Green in me. I’m known for being so intense. Rickey was the exact opposite. He was just happy-go-lucky. I’m not going to say he didn’t have a care in the world, but his goal was always to make you laugh, and to find humor in every situation. Rickey had a new joke every time you saw him, and he might just call you up randomly on the phone to tell you one.

“Rickey had the neatest personality of anyone I’ve ever known. A lot of stories become bigger with time. Rickey didn’t have to exaggerate about all the things that actually happened in his life. I went and stayed with Rickey for about a month a couple years ago, and he was telling me about the time he and Bobby McClelland were at an amateur rodeo back in Missouri back in the day. Rickey and Bobby were two peas in a pod, and back when you couldn’t pro rodeo and amateur rodeo at the same time, they decided they could make more money amateur rodeoing, so they turned in their PRCA cards. They were at an IPRA rodeo, and they had a special event called Money the Hard Way.

“It was open to the general public, and it was kind of like a calf scramble for adults, only if you could get the string off of the bull’s horns you got 100 bucks. They turned a bull loose in the arena, and the bull would charge at people, so everybody was scared. Rickey got out there, the bull started chasing him, knocked him down, and was mauling him down on the ground. Rickey somehow got that string off of that bull’s horn. The bull pushed him under the fence, and Rickey was covered in slobber. But when he got to the other side of the fence, he held up that string like a matador. Rickey got the hundred bucks and the roar of the crowd. Then he headed to the hospital to have his broken ribs taken care of. Rickey did crazy stuff like that all the time.

“When I first started rodeoing, Allen and I buddied and traveled with Rickey and Julio. It was like having your own stand-up comedian in the rig. When you get inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, you choose someone to introduce you. It’s like choosing your best man. I chose Rickey. He was the life of the party, and so much fun. I never did see Rickey have a bad day.

Rickey cracked everybody up—including Clay O. – Photo by Sue Rosoff

“One of my goals for my career was to win seven world championships, because I wanted to give all my family members a gold buckle. I won seven gold buckles, and achieved my goal. Rickey wanted to be known as the fastest heeler ever, and they put the crossfire rule in because of him. So Rickey achieved his goal, too.”

One of Rickey’s visitors right there toward the end told Jake he asked Rickey, “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get to Heaven?” Rickey’s response: “I’m going to go find my grandma and grandpa, and hug their necks. Then I’m going to find my buddy Lane Frost, and match him in bull riding.”

“That surprises no one who knew Rickey,” Jake said. “It sounds just like him. I’m sure going to miss him. We all will. But we won’t ever forget him.”

Like so many others, Rickey and Clay were respected peers and close friends.

“Rickey saw everything through a lens of humor, and his aim in life was to make you laugh and feel good,” Clay said. “He was a very unique character. Rickey would start a rift with me, and we would go back and forth trying to outdo each other. He would usually win, and my stomach would be spasming, because I’d laughed so hard.

“There are so many crazy Rickey stories, and they all make me laugh. One that was funny to everyone, but wasn’t that funny to me at the time, happened at a roping they used to have at the coliseum in Phoenix in the wintertime. It was a pretty good jackpot, and you could enter three times. It was right during the time when Jake and I were winning championships, and we were the big dogs. I came around the corner, got out of whack, tried to speed up my loop, and don’t think I even hit the steer. My loop hit the ground so hard, and it didn’t even come close.

“I’m just looking at my loop, and kind of pausing for a second, thinking, ‘Golly, that was the worst loop I’ve ever thrown.’ A split second later, I hear a horse coming at me 100 miles an hour. I look up, and it’s Rickey. He’s just running right to the spot where I missed. He stops his horse, takes a couple swings, and throws his loop right where mine is. He just slammed it on the ground. I’m looking at him like, ‘What are you doing?’ He looks at me and says, ‘Man, I thought that was going to be a great shot. I didn’t want yours to be the only terrible shot everybody saw today.’

“That was Rickey. He was not afraid to make humor out of every situation. I was just the recipient that day. I told him he was such a jerk. I was mad, because I’d missed. Then he embarrassed me on top of it. At the same time, I loved him. So I had to laugh.”

Rickey’s partners didn’t always find his crossfiring funny.

“At times, all the guys Rickey roped with would get mad at him, because he wouldn’t let them turn the steer,” Champ chuckled. “He was going to heel those steers going straight down the arena. It didn’t take very long—one year, basically—before everybody decided they had to stop that, or team roping was going to turn into chaos. A lot of guys decided team roping was going to fall apart if crossfiring was not eliminated, because it was going to take the corner, the handle, and everything else at the center of the event out of it. Rickey didn’t care. He was just going to heel steers as fast as humanly possible.”

Rickey left this world so suddenly. The stories will keep flowing, and his family and friends will never forget him. Still, he’ll be missed by all of us lucky enough to know him always. I’m so thankful for some of the special conver­sations I had with Rickey. A couple years ago, we helped each other ride through a little rough patch, and the last time we talked he gave me the kind of compliments I’ll gratefully reflect on from now on when pulling all-nighters to hit deadlines. The extra effort is worth it. Rickey said so.

Some were surprised by Rickey’s request for no memorial service. Then they find out that it was because Rickey didn’t want to make people sad, and knowing Rickey that makes perfect sense. So does the Green family’s wish that memorial contributions be made to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. Just another way Rickey will keep helping his cowboy friends, even from high above in Heaven.

“If I could talk to Rickey right now, I’d tell him he was a great friend,” Clay said. “And that he was a great success in his life. Rickey made people feel good, and that’s a gift. And if he was your friend, he was honest with you in his friendship. You knew you could count on him, whatever he said, because Rickey was a man of his word. It was a total shock that Rickey would leave at 61. I saw him living into his 90s.

“Rickey lived his life very well. He roped for the fame of it, and he was good at it. If he could wow the crowd, and bring them to their feet, that’s what he wanted to do more than anything. I know I always stopped to watch Rickey rope—because something was going to happen.

“Rickey Green was a great roper. Rickey Green was a great husband and father. Rickey Green was a great friend.”

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