Lawton Loses a Legend – Howard Council – My Friend
There is nothing that I can write about Howard Council that hasn't already been written. Anyone in the professional rodeo circuit knows who Howard Council was. He was a friend to a lot of people. He was a friend of mine.
I first met Howard when I moved to Lawton and was looking for some saddle soap. I didn't know who Howard Council was until I walked into his shop on 2nd Street that day. The bell on the door rang and a little man with silver white hair came out from behind the swinging doors to the back room. His shop looked like a pro rodeo museum. I stood in awe at all the photos on the wall. I felt silly asking him for saddle soap. Who was this guy? It didn't take long for me to find out.
Howard was always full of stories. I loved to go into his shop and just talk to him. I always found an excuse to drop by and say hi (even though I didn't need one). I told his wife Genevieve that I always felt guilty stopping by because he would always spend so much time talking to me and telling me what had been happening in his life.
I walked into his shop one day and went right to the back room to say hello. There stood a rodeo legend - Roy Cooper! I apologized for interrupting and told Howard I would come back another time. He looked at me and said "Do you know who this is?" I laughed and said "Yes Howard, I know." he pushed my hand and said to Roy "No! Do you know who this is?!" and pointed to me. He said "This is my favorite DJ! She's the best DJ in Oklahoma!" I laughed. Howard was introducing ME to Roy Cooper! That made my day and I laughed all the way back to my truck.
Howard was one of those people that made you feel so important and special every time you walked into his shop. We talked horses many times. We talked about the famous artist Orin Mixer. I loved his paintings. Howard had to show me one of the paint pans that Orin gave him on his many trips to see Howard. He pointed to it in the glass case in his shop and said "Do you know when he gave that to me the paint was still wet!" He was so proud of that paint pan. Then Howard walks you around his shop and shows you the many pictures on the wall. There is one with Howard and Lane Frost, Howard and Roy Cooper, Howard and Trevor Brazile and of course, Howard and his "other son" George Strait. He loved George just like he would love a son. He had many stories about George to share with anyone that would listen. He also had memorabilia from Garth Brooks. He made Garth a leather seat for his mule.
Everyone that knew Howard knew about "the list". The yellowed and torn pieces of tablet paper with names of those that were waiting on their saddles. I kept teasing him and asking him if my name had moved up "the list". I wasn't even on the list but I know many that were.
I remember walking into the shop the day after I lost my horse Beauty Bug. I had swollen, tear filled eyes and walked back into the back room. I looked at Howard with big tears in my eyes and said "Howard, I lost Beauty Bug last night." He came out from behind the saddle he was working on to hold my hands and tell me he was sorry. He turned me around and said "Can I introduce you to the guys from RFD-TV?" Good Lord! I hadn't even noticed the full camera crew that was set up and recording an episode for the station. I exclaimed and told him I was sorry and would stop by another time. He wouldn't hear of it and made them wait while he listened to what had happened to her. Then asked me to stay and the crew asked me to pretend I was buying a bit from him. I was so embarrassed, I felt like a fool but Howard never made anyone feel that way.
I looked forward to the Lawton Ranger's Rodeo every year because I knew I would see Howard and his beautiful wife Genevieve, sitting in their box seats. I would be able to get my annual picture with Howard. His eyes would always light up when he saw me. He had a way of making everyone feel so special.
Lawton has lost an amazing loving man. He will be missed by many people, he will be missed by me. The rodeo arena will never be the same. I would love to hear your stories of Howard. Please share them with me in the comments below. Thank you!