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Cowgirl museum to open exhibit on retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

10/24/2011 10:23 PM

10/25/2011 8:11 AM

FORT WORTH -- A ranch-raised Arizona cowgirl who became the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court will be in Fort Worth on Wednesday to help induct eight women into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will also open an exhibit that focuses on her life, said Pat Riley, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame executive director.

"We're thrilled to have the justice here for a second time," Riley said. "She was here in 2003 for the ribbon-cutting for the building. We used that opportunity to induct her into the hall of fame."

The O'Connor exhibition draws from Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest, the book she wrote with her brother, H. Alan Day. It reflects on her early years and her time on the bench, and celebrates the 30th anniversary of her Supreme Court appointment, Riley said.

"This will be the first time she's seen the exhibition, and we're excited to be able to show it to her," Riley said.

The 3,000-square-foot exhibition features family photos, a film, family ranch artifacts and selected editorial cartoons.

The 36th annual induction luncheon begins at noon Wednesday in the Round Up Inn at the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall, across the street from the Cowgirl Museum.

Entertainer Red Steagall will be master of ceremonies.

Hall of fame inductees are:

Sarah "Sally" Buxkemper. She helped refine cattle pedigrees by combining Simmental with Brahman to create the hardier Simbrah breed. She lives on the RX Ranch in Ballinger, managing cattle and improving her herd for worldwide sales.

Sandy Collier. A Californian, she is the only woman to win the National Reined Cow Horse Association World Champion Snaffle Bit Futurity. Other championships and a lifetime achievement award mark the career of a woman who is now an international clinician, co-author of Reining Essentials, and source of several articles and DVDs on horse training.

Mary Lou LeCompte. She is recognized as the leading scholar on rodeo cowgirls. She wrote Cowgirls of the Rodeo: Pioneer Professional Athletes, conducting more than 600 interviews with female rodeo competitors. She taught at the University of Texas at Austin for 36 years.

Anna Mebus Martin, 1843-1925. She is the first female bank founder and president in the United States. Immigrating to Texas from Germany at 15, she was widowed at 36, owned a town store, and opened the first bank in Mason County while operating a 60,000-acre cattle ranch. She introduced barbed wire to the region, changing the face of the cattle industry and building a customer base in more than a dozen towns.

Marie Gibson , 1894-1933. She was a Montanan who met her husband, bronc rider Tom Gibson, at her first rodeo competition at the Great Northern Montana Stampede. From 1917 to 1933, she competed in every major rodeo in the United States and several across Canada. In 1924, she won first place in Ladies Bronc Riding at Cheyenne Frontier Days and three years later earned her first World Championship in Ladies Bronc Riding at Madison Square Garden.

Mary Emma Manning Lillie, 1869-1936. She was an Oklahoman who married showman and performer Pawnee Bill in 1886. "May Lillie" received a pony and a Marlin .22-caliber target rifle as a wedding present and later starred as a sharpshooter and expert rider in Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West Show.

Pauline Nesbitt, 1907-96. She began her rodeo career at age 17 as a bronc rider. She switched to trick riding and was a regular performer for Gene Autry at Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden. She made all of her own costumes and took up modeling, appearing in Western clothing for the 1941 Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Eloise Fox Hastings Wilson, 1898-1948. She was 16 when she started a career in bronc and trick riding for the Irwin Brother's Wild West Show. In 1924, "Fox Hastings" made her first appearance as a female bulldogger at the Fort Worth Rodeo. She bulldogged in more than a dozen other rodeos.

The museum will also honor Patti Colbert, executive director of the Mustang Heritage Foundation, with the Fern Sawyer Award, which recognizes a person who has contributed to the museum's advancement.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

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