The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum honors men and women whose lives exemplify the independence and resilience of the people who settled Utah. The honor includes artists, champions, entertainers, musicians, ranchers, writers and those persons, past and present, who have promoted the western way of life. Submission in consideration for this year’s class are due by March 15, 2022. The induction ceremony will be held on July 9, 2022, at the Cooper Nickel in Ogden. Applications and instructions for submission can be found on the museums website.
KEITH HALES COOMBS
Keith was a devout horseman and rancher who put his whole heart into all he did and helped ingrain western heritage into the lives of those around him. His passions included horses and helping others. He was not only a working cowboy/rancher but was also a competitor in the rodeo arena, where he won numerous awards and buckles in calf roping, bareback bronc riding and bull riding. Keith also hazed steers in the steer wrestling.
He would help anyone but especially enjoyed helping young people. Keith built an arena behind his home available to adults and youth alike in Box Elder County—and he often provided the ropes and horses for anyone in need. He furnished roping stock and donated his time to train willing souls in roping and flagging techniques.
As a youth, Keith served on the committee seeking approval to hold the first High School rodeo in Utah and continued his involvement as an adult officer. He was a founding member of the Plymouth Roping Club, a member of the Box Elder Sheriff’s Posse, where he served in various positions including Posse Chief, and also served on the Fielding City Town Council.
Keith passed away in 2013 but his legacy lives on in the lives of those he influenced.
DESIREE “DES” COOPER-LARSEN
Des had a happy childhood and grew up riding horses. She was a Lehi High School Cheerleader and qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals in barrel racing. Des danced her way on stage to become Miss Lehi and went on to later become Miss Rodeo Utah in 1979. She also won the coveted speech award at the Miss Rodeo America contest that same year.
Des earned her master’s and bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Marketing/Education and became a Professor of Professional Sales at Weber State University, where she was twice presented the Utah Association of Marketing Educators Teacher of the Year. Des was also instrumental in starting the Alan E. Hall Center for Sales Excellence at WSU.
Des was the heart and soul of the Ogden Pioneer Days Celebration and worked endlessly to build a world-class PRCA Hall of Fame Rodeo. Due to her passionate efforts, along with the help of many others, the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo has been honored as a top PRCA “Rodeo of the Year” for 13 years. Des was the one and only woman to chair the celebration in its 86-year history. She was also President of the Miss Rodeo Utah Executive Board, as well as a member of the Miss Rodeo America Foundation Board.
Des lost her battle to COVID-19-related complications in February of 2021. She was a driving force, could make anything happen and her unique abilities will be greatly missed.
BEVERLY “BEV” CROSS
Bev Cross was the backbone of the western world in Ogden and Weber County from the mid-1960s to 1980s—turning more young women into rodeo queens than any other person in the nation. She and her husband, Ken, ran C. W. (Cross Western) Wear. Though not born to the western world, she began working in the store when her two boys were small, and quickly became educated in the process of buying, selling and dressing those looking for western wear.
Over time, Bev’s reputation for dressing young women competing as rodeo queens spread throughout the western world. She was the “go-to” woman for young ladies wanting to wear the title of Rodeo Queen. In fact, she was referred to as the “Queen Mother.” Many state rodeo queens came to Ogden to gain her fashion knowledge and have her create their competition wardrobe.
Bev was always budget conscious and worked hard to achieve the best winning look for every customer. She even helped with hair, makeup and speeches. Bev still remembers all those she served and can tell you what they wore—especially those who became Miss Rodeo America. She nurtured, loved and brought out the best in the in all of them, and still enjoys friendships with many of the Queens.
A huge supporter of rodeo, she helped many a young cowboy and cowgirl get involved in the sport of rodeo—cheering them on wherever she could.
GERALD (JERRY) LYNN HURST
From rough stock contestant to bull fighter, to rodeo clown and more, Jerry has made indelible tracks in rodeo arenas at every level of competition—starting with his achievement as the National High School Association Champion Bull Rider in 1968. After earning awards in bareback and bull riding, he decided riding bulls was too easy and for the next 27 years entertained audiences as a professional bull fighter. Then, Jerry worked another seven years as a barrel man and rodeo clown.
While continuing his participation in rodeo, Jerry earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Education. He moved to Grantsville to teach school and raise his family in that small town community. Not only the local Agricultural teacher, Jerry was also the local vet, crop expert, student counselor and show animal expert—and was also Dad, husband and local rodeo performer. He believed deeply that you should give back to your community and served as a Grantsville City Councilman, Assistant Mayor, Tooele County Commissioner, and chaired many committees on the local, state and national level.
Tim began his career as a rodeo clown at a young age, working at the Miniature Rodeo Company established by his dad, Vern Oyler. In addition to his clowning and bull fighting, he won the Bulldogging Championship in 1967. Even while the serving in the military, he was able to spend his weekend leave time working shows for the Louisiana Rodeo Association. After returning from the military, with the help of Pro Rodeo Clown, Chuck Henson, and Rodeo Producer Swanny Kerby, Tim earned his RCA Professional Rodeo Card, which led him into an incredible 34-year, “clowning and bull fighting” career. In 1977 he was chosen as the N.H.S.R.A. “Bullfighter of the Decade,” which Tim considered his greatest personal achievement.
During his college days, Tim competed on the Idaho University rodeo team—graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a minor in Speech and Drama. In 1975 he received a master’s degree in Education Administration and thereafter taught speech and drama in the Jerome School District from 1973 – 1980.
Though his clowning career took a toll on his body with several broken bones, he never regretted his decision to be a bullfighter. He lived by the words, “Life is too short, so do what brings you the most joy. Then, you won’t have regrets later about missing the opportunity to do what you love.”
CHENAE SHINER VEST
Chenae was raised on the back of a horse, whether at a rodeo or moving cattle in the field–the cowboy way was a part of everyday life. She learned to love the rodeo arena, competing in barrel racing, poles and breakaway roping—and qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals three times in the barrel racing event.
Along the way, she picked up rodeo queening and promoting the western lifestyle became a passion. She won Utah State High School Rodeo Queen in 2007 and went on to become the 2007-08 National High School Rodeo Association Queen.
After high school Chenae went to Utah State University, where she earned her business degree. She kept up with her rodeo queening goals, and in 2010 won the title of Miss Wilderness Circuit and Miss Rodeo Ogden. In 2012, as Ogden’s representative, she achieved a lifelong goal of winning the Miss Rodeo Utah title. Representing the Beehive State in Las Vegas that same year, she won the title of Miss Rodeo America 2013—a true honor for her.
After passing on her crowns, Chenae went on to marry her own cowboy, professional tie-down roper, Stetson Vest. They continue to travel the pro rodeo trail together, now joined by their little girl. When not on the road, they reside in Childress, Texas and work on the family ranch.