CORVALLIS — When the dust finally settles at the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame’s new venue, three of Western Montana’s finest wranglers, ropers and cowboys will have their names pinned to the wall.
Somewhere in the same building, Missoula’s most famous writer, Norman Maclean, will be honored, too.
The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center announced its fifth class of inductees of men and women who made a notable contribution to the history and culture of the state.
Of the four, Corvallis cowboy Pete Sacks is the only living recipient.
“I’m 87 years old today and I’m kind of feeling it,” Sacks said Monday in a telephone interview. “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
Sacks may be twice and maybe close to three times the age of many of those who come to the jackpot roping contests at the Mytty Arena, but he is still giving them a good run for their money.
Three weeks ago, this most recent hall of fame member, won a buckle for roping three of nine steers with the fastest time.
“I’m still pretty good at it,” he said. “I ain’t near as good as I used to be, but I can still do it.”
Cowboy Hall of Fame trustee Jane Lambert of Stevensville is amazed at Sack’s ability to ward off old age.
“I’m 68 years old and I use a mounting block to get on a much shorter horse,” Lambert said. “Pete gets on from the ground and might have a little trouble getting his leg over the cantle, but not much.”
“He’s just an amazing man and I’m so glad for him that he will be inducted while he can still enjoy it,” she said.
Plans call for hosting an induction ceremony sometime next year, but Sacks will have to wait for his chance to actually see how generations to come will remember him.
The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center announced recently it would build its new facility in Big Timber.
The center’s finance director, Aaron Lyles, said the capital campaign to raise upwards of $5.4 million will get under way soon after an architectural review of the Big Timber facility is completed. There is no set timetable at this point.
The group envisions creating a destination-type facility that will feature not only the Cowboy Hall of Fame, but also a place that honors Native Americans and other features of the state’s collective Western history.
“It will be a place that people go out of their way to stop and experience,” Lyles said.
Lambert hopes that other western Montana cowboys and other Western figures will find their place into the new tourism attraction.
A recently appointed trustee for District 12, Lambert is on the hunt for some more people to join her in nominating and voting on new inductees.
“We currently have four trustees from our district that includes Ravalli, Missoula and Mineral counties,” she said. “We can have 11. With these guys making it into the hall this year, it’s time to try to expand our influence here in Western Montana.”
Anyone interested in learning more can go to the website www.montanacowboyfame.com.
Stevensville cowboy Irvin G. Wortman and Missoula’s Archie Lynn Joscelyn joined Sacks and McLean as inductees this year.
“It sounds pretty good to me,” Sacks said about the honor.
“I guess I’m going to be immortal now.”
The Corvallis cowboy doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels, though. He and his nephew, Randy Sacks, rented a dozen steers for the summer to keep their roping skills intact.
“Once this roping gets into your blood, it’s kind of hard to quit it,” Sacks said. “I started roping calves a lot of years ago. When this whole thing came up, I started thinking about it some.”
“I didn’t realize it before then, but I’ve actually done pretty good at this after all,” he said.