Known as “The Duke,” and one of the most premier stock contractors of the century, ProRodeo Hall of Fame stock contractor Harry Vold passed away March 13, 2017, at the age of 93.

Excerpt from “Solid Vold” published in the December 1996 issue.

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Long-time rodeo stock contractor Harry Vold. Photo by Gary Vorhes

It’s Sunday, the final day of the 100th Cheyenne Frontier Days. Stock contractor Harry Vold is decked out in a starched white shirt, black boots, slacks, tie, and an old-timey, wide-brimmed sombrero with a rakish Montana-drop crease, a gift from his wife, Karen. He rides through the arena on one of his black Quarter Horses, the silver on his saddle glinting in the clear Wyoming sunlight.

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Karen and Harry at their home near Fowler, Colorado. Photo by Gavin Ehringer

Everything is going smoothly, the horses and bulls are bucking well, and Vold wears a toothy grin. A photographer asks for a photo, and Vold obliges by stopping his horse in front of the huge crowd.

Instead of looking at the camera, Vold focuses on the distant horizon, showing the photographer the heroic profile of man surveying his domain.

“How’s this?” he asks, knowing that it’s exactly what the cameraman is looking for.

“Perfect,” says the photographer as he snaps off a couple shots. Vold cues his horse and moves on.

Just a few ticks of the second hand, but they say a lot about the man folks in the rodeo business refer to as “The Duke.”

And Harry Vold is impressive when the spotlights bum. With his slow, clear speaking voice and rolling gait, he does bear a reasonable resemblance to John Wayne, who shared with Vold the nickname, “The Duke.” And many of the qualities Americans came to associate with the famous actor also fit the famous stock contractor. Wayne embodied the virtues of strength, determination, hard work, and western individualism. Those same virtues have made Harry Vold the man he is today–one of the greatest stock contractors of this, and perhaps any, era.

 

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