Goodwell, Okla. – The Panhandle State Association of Alumni and Friends is excited to announce the Etbauer Family as the 2017 Honored Family. The family will be honored at the 2017 Panhandle State homecoming celebration on October 28.
Nestled in the hills of South Dakota, Lyle and Bev Etbauer raised four children who would go on to write their own chapter in rodeo’s history books. Robert, Billy, Wanda and Danny grew up helping their parents and grandparents on the family ranch.
The Etbauer name migrated south when Robert was recruited to be a part of the Panhandle State University Rodeo Team by Phil Martin to rodeo under “Doc” Lynn Gardner in 1981. He continued his education at Panhandle State until 1983. In the small Oklahoma town, Robert met Sue (Allsworth) Etbauer who became his wife. The newlywed couple was asked to move to Savannah, Mo. to work for Roy Durfey training roping horses, but two years later, Robert and Sue returned to the Panhandle in order for Robert to compete in collegiate rodeos one more year, alongside his youngest brother, Danny. The pair of Etbauer brothers contributed to Panhandle State’s third-place finish at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in 1986, which was the highest PSU had placed since its inception in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).
Also riding for the red and blue at the CNFR in 1986 was Deke Latham. Deke and Robert decided to try their hand at the professional ranks, which they excelled. Deke qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) that same year while Robert landed in the dreaded 16th place position. The rodeo world received heart wrenching news just a few days after Deke returned from his first NFR appearance. The young cowboy was tragically killed in a car accident.
However, that wasn’t the end of the Etbauer-Latham connection. Robert and Danny began traveling together in 1988 and the pair of brothers qualified for the NFR that year. The band of brothers continued to grow with Billy Etbauer and Craig Latham joining the rig the next year. The brothers made rodeo history by being the first set of three brothers to qualify for the NFR in the same event in the same year; an accomplishment they repeated eight more times.
Throughout Robert’s career, he claimed the coveted gold buckle in 1990 and 1991. In 1995, Panhandle State inducted him into the Alumni Ambassador Hall of Fame. Robert went on to qualify for the NFR 12 times, 1988-1992 and 1994-2000, before retiring from his professional career in 2002 when his eldest son, Trell, started competing at high school rodeos.
In 2011, Robert returned to Oklahoma Panhandle State University, this time as Assistant Rodeo Coach to long-time friend and hauling partner, Craig Latham. Robert assumed the head coaching position in 2015 when Craig stepped down due to medical reasons. Robert and Billy were inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2012. Even in their retirement, the band of brothers continued to make rodeo history, together. In 2013, Robert, Billy and Danny were all inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
In addition to Trell, Robert and Sue are the proud parents of Chancy and Shade. Chancy, who graduated from Panhandle State in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Business, now resides in Elsmere, Neb. with her husband, Clete Scheer, and six year-old daughter, Talon. Clete also graduated from Panhandle State in 2005. The couple ranches in the sandhills of Nebraska and compete at amateur rodeos when time allows.
Robert and Sue’s oldest son, Trell, hangs his hat in Gruver, Texas with his wife, Kaylee Holt-Etbauer, and two-year old daughter, Rally. Trell graduated from Panhandle State in 2008 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Technology. He was the 2005 NIRA National Co-Champion Steer Wrestler. As an integral part of the Panhandle Rodeo Team, he was chosen as Panhandle State’s Male Athlete of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. Trell went on to win the PRCA All-Around Rookie of the Year title in 2008, as well as being the PRCA Linderman Award Winner. He continued his domination at both ends of the arena as he was named the Linderman Award recipient a total of four times, 2008-2010 and 2013. When Trell is not on the rodeo trail, he spends his time farming and ranching with his in-laws, Kevin and Ronda Holt, near Gruver.
Shade followed in his brother’s footsteps and also graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Technology from Panhandle State in 2016. Staying true to the Etbauer legacy, Shade has accumulated numerous accolades at both ends of the arena including the NIRA Central Plains All-Around Cowboy in 2015 and 2016. He was also named the 2016 NIRA Reserve Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and is currently competing professionally. He also met his future wife, Amy Chamberlain, in Goodwell. The two plan to be wed on September 23.
Although Billy never attended Panhandle State, he has been an instrumental friend and supporter of the rodeo team as well as the annual Deke Latham Memorial Bronc Riding School, along with Robert, Danny and Craig Latham. The school began in honor of Craig’s brother, Deke Latham. Tuition money from the school is responsible for the current college rodeo arena and facilities along with support and donations from members of the community. Each year, the school attracts 35-50 students from all over the United States and Canada, plus has had a student from Germany.
During Billy’s professional career, he qualified for the NFR 21 times from 1989 to 2009. He was named the PRCA World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2004. He currently lives in Edmond, Okla. with his wife, Hollie, and their three children, Kord, Treg and Jacie. The family operates a horse breeding program and trains barrel horses.
Danny attended Panhandle State from 1985-1988. In addition to being a member of the history-making men’s team in 1986 with his brother, Robert, Danny continued to be a major contributor to the Panhandle State program. He went on to qualify for the NFR 10 times from 1988-1997. In 1995, Danny was the Reserve World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider.
Several knee injuries plagued Danny throughout his bronc riding career, so Danny took the event from a different angle and learned how to be a pickup man. Just like his bronc riding, Danny excelled in this venue and was chosen to pick up at the 2008 NFR. He still instructs the pickup man school that is held in conjunction with the bronc riding school. He is always on hand to help during the college roughstock practices and jackpots and continues to play a vital role in the University’s rodeo program. Danny married Kasey Nichols and the couple resides south of Goodwell. They train roping and barrel racing horses and operate a breeding program. Danny’s daughter, Rossy, lives in California.
Many people don’t realize the Etbauer brothers also have a sister, Wanda. She is married to Mark Sisson and lives in Moorcroft, Wyo. They have a daughter, Lisa, who works for a coal mine near Gillette, Wyo., and a son, Neal, who is married to Kristen and has two sons, NJ and Kade. The foundation of the Etbauer Family, Lyle and Bev, have supported all the goals and dreams of their children and grandchildren. From hauling them to junior rodeos, ball games and wrestling matches as children to later driving hours to watch them compete, Lyle and Bev have been there every step of the way. They are also big supporters of the Panhandle State Rodeo Team. They make a trip to Goodwell every spring for the bronc riding school. In earlier years, Lyle would help move cattle and horses during the school. They continue to support Robert in his new role at the helm of the legendary rodeo program by making a trip to the CNFR each year. Not only has the Etbauer Family written their own chapter in rodeo’s history books, they have helped numerous other cowboys and cowgirls to write their own.