Cowboy Heroes

Richard D. Fry had a zest and zeal for life unequalled by most. Many have said, “He was larger than life.” Always quick with a smile, a joke or a story, he was as good natured as they come. Unfortunately, he passed away on October 5, 2010.

Richard, born in Gatesville, Texas on January 19, 1949, was a cowboy. Richard’s father was a legendary roper and horseman and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Richard was raised a-horseback. Growing up, he loved sports (especially football), roping and good horses; these things held a special place in his life thereafter. He was also what you might call, “a people person.”
After graduating from college in 1971, Richard embarked on a rodeo career in the calf roping event. Being an avid roper, he always rode good horses, something he’d be known for his entire life; which added to Richard being a winner. He had a keen way of figuring out how to win, no matter what the game may be. Some folks said he was just naturally lucky, but I know Richard, like all successful people, knew luck is created. He roped calves at the professional level from the mid 70’s through the early 80s. One of Richard’s favorite stories about calf roping was the year he narrowly missed qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo, but returned home in fall to work as a math teacher to pay the bills.
After rodeo, Richard undertook a new journey in life as a race horse trainer. This he did for over 20 years, during which, Richard became legendary for his knowledge and ability with horses and also for having a good time. As one of the most successful trainers in the Southwest, he was a favorite with celebrities and locals alike in the Jockey Club, where the best parties are thrown. He had a placing average of almost 40 percent which is astounding. Richard was in the “who’s, who” crowd around race tracks. Then in 1994, the highlight of his racing career presented itself when he won the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs; the world championship of Quarter Horse Racing. A fast horse named Noblesse Six put Richard in the Quarter Horse history books forever. Before retiring as a trainer, Richard was one of the winners of all time.
In 2004, Richard found real estate sales in his new home state of Arizona. Timing couldn’t have been better for the natural born salesman as there was a HUGE real estate boom gaining momentum. Just as in other endeavors throughout life, Richard went for the gold, with gusto, becoming one of the top real estate salesmen in his field within a short time, a position he maintained until the end.
After 26 years of retirement from roping, Richard had gotten back into roping, this time as a jackpot team roper. It didn’t take long for him to prove a winner in team roping as well. In the last six years of his life, Richard won dozens of buckles, saddles and other prizes, not to mention, a boat load of cash. The highlight of his team roping career came in 2009 when he won the #10 division at the World Series of Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. That win came with a check of over $100,000, but the great thing about that victory was he won it with his lifetime friend, Jim Saunders — Jim’s dad grew up roping with Richard’s dad back in Gatesville. After the win, Richard commented he felt like he’d accomplished just about everything he dreamed of at that point, winning the All American and then the World Series; two different equine events and two occasions where he won over $100,000 in one day!
Richard spent the last few years of his life traveling around the country to roping events from the Finals at Oklahoma City to the California coast. Along the way he tried to get anyone he came into contact with interested in buying real estate (or anything else he might be selling). Richard had an easy going way about him which attracted people. He was also sharp as a tack; smart like a Fox.
An avid practical joker, he was constantly giving people a hard time, but normally in subtle ways that made them like it. He was also a heck of a story teller. Richard had more tall tales than most. Some he would tell just to, “See if you’d bite,” as he liked to put it. Others, seemingly so bizarre, people would call him on it, then he’d just say, “Check it out.” When they did, they’d find out he wasn’t joshing around.
Richard loved to have fun and smile more than anybody. He was definitely “larger than life.” With a deep booming voice which could be heard a mile away, he was the center of attention at gatherings; he thrived on that. After meeting someone for 10 minutes, he knew all about them, had several friends in common and they knew about Richard. He wasn’t bashful.
Richard went at life full steam ahead and he loved fun. A natural risk taker, he won and lost several small fortunes, always bouncing back. One story he liked to tell was about being in Las Vegas during the NFR back when he was still training race horses. He always played in Golf Tournaments, but hadn’t any luck there or at the gambling tables either. Richard was the kind of guy who would sit down at the Black Jack table with $100 and walk out of there the next morning with ten, twelve thousand or more! He’d have a huge crowd gathered around him all night long as he put on a show. This particular time however, he couldn’t get his “Mojo” going and he’d lost every penny; payroll, petty cash, savings, it was all gone.
Richard found an old friend of his and gave him a hot check for $500, telling the friend it wasn’t good at the moment, but it would be the first of next week; he had an uncommon amount of confidence. Taking the money, he started betting on race horses; a game he knew more than a little about. After winning a couple thousand on the horses, he returned to the Black jack tables, where, by the next morning, he won around $15,000. Come Monday, he was back at Ruidoso Downs, the check written to the friend was good, all business accounts were replenished and nobody was the wiser. This little story pretty much sums up Richard’s go for it all and have fun doing it attitude.
Richard often said, “I don’t want to get old.” Somehow I think he knew the fast lane, fun loving lifestyle he lived didn’t accommodate for old age. I believe he’d rather live 61 years as he did rather than 80 or 90 years in a more moderate manner. Richard, being a Texan, also lived a good part of his life in New Mexico and Arizona and had friends everywhere. In the days following his death, the Fry family was literally inundated with sympathy calls from across the Southwest. He made a big splash in passing just as he did in life. He leaves behind a daughter, Zane, a son, Nathan and the love of his life, P.J. Dietmeir. Richard D. Fry, you will be missed by many. n