Class of 2019
Ronnie Koll was a Real Cowboy from his first breath at the old Wendell ID Hospital in July 1941, until his last at the Albuquerque University Medical Center in April 2018.
As a toddler, there were no horses to ride on the family farm near Jerome. Much to the concern of Mary, his worrisome mother, Ronnie would persuade Mark, his father, to lift him on the milk cows for a ride. After that Ronnie's biggest problem became how to lengthen the girth on the old western saddle he found in the barn, so it would fit one of the cows.
Not only did he ride the milk cows, but Ronnie and his sister Shirley, showed calves and cattle in the local 4-H club. With mom and dad's full support, they both participated the full extent of their eligibility and there are many champion ribbons to show for it. Ultimately the milk cows and show cattle were replaced by a registered quarter horse named Bomber Boy. Ronnie and Bomber Boy became inseparable.
Ronnie's motivation to live the cowboy way of life really opened with him getting his driver's license, an old pickup truck and a horse trailer. With those assets, he and his friends could go to the local rodeos, feed and care for the wild horses running on the Bruneau Desert, go to practice arenas in and near the Magic Valley, or go help herd and brand cattle in the spring for friends and neighbors.
Ronnie started entering local rodeos early on in high school. He and his young cowboy friends would work the farms for entry fees and enter the rodeos near Jerome during the late summer and fall. When they didn't have rodeos to attend you could find them on their days off school at someone's practice arena or getting one on one training from one of the many local cowboys they knew.
After graduating high school, his professional cowboy career blossomed. He enlisted for six years in the Idaho National Guard serving at the Jerome Armory. His National Guard meetings were during the week and he had a scheduled 2-week field training exercise every summer. With his schedule set well in adva nee, he was able to enter any of the Idaho and regional rodeos that did not conflict with his service requirements. When he was not serving in national guard or on the road to rodeos he did carpenter work in the magic valley area. His father trained him in carpentry as he was growing up and had many on-going building contracts that Ronnie would help him with.
Ronnie had his best year as an Idaho Cowboy in 1964 when he was the top money earner in bareback thus the Idaho Cowboy Association Champion. In the years following, Ronnie increased the number of events he participated in across the US and qualified for the National Finals Rodeos in Oklahoma City several years. He traveled with the likes of Idaho bull rider Jimmy Steen, top all-around cowboy Larry Mahan and many others. In the true cowboy fashion, they all remained lifelong friends. It was common to see these cowboys getting on an airplane with two pair of Wranglers and a bag containing their rodeo gear. One pair of jeans they wore, and the other pair had the legs tied at the bottom and contained their dirty clothes that needed laundering.
Ronnie's first wife was a champion barrel racer from New Mexico. They married and lived in Wendell a short time then moved to Albuquerque to partner with her father in his horse trailer sales and maintenance business.
After Ronnie and his first wife split, he married his life's partner Leslie. Leslie and Ronnie changed the name to Koll Trailers and worked as a team to manage the business until it was sold a few years ago. They participated and helped to manage one of the largest roping clubs in the area and enjoyed all the time they could with their growing grand daughters (they were the twinkle of Grandpa's eye). Ronnie continued to train horses until his last days.
A few months before his death, Ronnie was training a retired race horse to be used for roping, went to the ground and cracked some ribs. One of his neighbors, after hearing about it, asked him if he was OK, he had heard Ronnie was thrown from a horse. Ronnie quickly responded in his candid, impersonal way that he was not thrown off, he was bucked off.
There were young and old cowboys and cowgirls that came to see Ronnie in hospital before his death. Most had tears in their eyes as they left. Ronnie never knew a stranger and was respected immensely by everyone he associated with. A Real Idaho Cowboy.
• Rides anything including milk cows until he gets a horse
• Practices and learns from all the other great Idaho Cowboys before him
• Is a veteran having served his country and state in the Idaho National Guard
• Feeds and cares for wild horses on the Bruneau Desert
• Enters and does well in rodeos throughout Idaho and adjoining states
• Is the 1964 State Champion Bareback Rider
• Represents Idaho in several Oklahoma City National Finals Rodeos
• Spends over 30 years owning and operating a successful horse trailer business
• Is a big part of the continued success of one of Albuquerque's best-known roping clubs
• Continues to train horses into his 76th year of life