Pete Sacks (1924-2019)

Pete Sacks was born in Fort Lupton, Colorado, in 1924, and moved with his family, shortly thereafter to South Dakota, where his father raised wheat and flax. The crash of 1929, was a time of financial ruin for the Sacks family. They moved to Missoula, Montana, where his family worked at the sugar beet mill through 1930, after which they sharecropped on the Dussault Ranch.

When Pete was in the sixth grade, his family moved to Frenchtown, once again sharecropping sugar beets while also milking cows. By this time Pete was earning his share for the family, hoeing in the fields and helping with the cow milking.

In 1945, the Sacks’ moved to the Bitterroot Valley in southwest Montana. From 1945 to 1947, they leased and ran the Fort Owen Ranch, in Stevensville, putting up hay and raising cattle. Pete had developed a true love, and a feel for horses by this time, and was training colts for the public, along with his family ranching duties.

In 1947, Pete and his family bought a ranch on Birch Creek, near Corvallis, Montana. Along with raising sugar beets, they went into the cattle business and added another ranch property to their holdings.

Pete married Viviette Seal in 1948. They soon made their home on the Birch Creek place and went into the cattle business. In 1952, he became interested in the rodeo sport of calf roping. Pete joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and entered as many rodeos as time away from the ranch would allow. Pete mostly competed locally and traveled to Oral Zumwalt’s rodeos pretty steadily.

In 1958, he bought a top notch calf roping horse “Bay Rum” from Bud Pilcher and did well competing on him. Bay Rum put a rider in the right position on a calf, and had an impressive hard stop, once the loop was on the calf. In addition to his abilities as a calf horse, Bay Rum became a good hazing horse as well. Pete used him many times partnering with Benny Reynolds. The hazing money Pete made, helped pay entry fees to the next rodeo.

Pete’s interest eventually shifted from calf roping to heading in team roping. He scheduled rodeo competition around his ranching responsibilities traveling to Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and across Montana. For many years Pete and Viviette enjoyed going to the five-day Century Roping in Elko, where Pete always placed well.

If Pete had not had two Bitterroot ranches to run, he could have very well been on the national circuit—he had both the talent and the horses to do it, having trained most himself.

Pete roped regularly at Bill Mytty’s Lolo Creek Arena winning numerous buckles, which only added to his collection of over 30. He is still roping at the age of 87 years young.

Pete sold the bulk of the Birch Creek property along with the cattle in 1973. Then owned and operated a backhoe business until 1995, all while training, riding, and roping whenever possible. In 1982, he proudly won a saddle riding his good horse, Snazz, in Clarkston, Washington.

He is a charter member of the St. Mary’s Saddle Club in Stevensville, the PRCA while calf roping, the Northwest Rodeo Association (NRA), the Montana Team Roper’s Association, and a lifetime member of the U. S. Team Roper’s Association.

In 2007, the Pete Sacks Classic Roping was held for the first time at the Mytty Arena in Lolo and has become an annual event. In 2008, Pete, roping with his nephew, Randy Sacks, won the event, and a special embroidered jacket.

On March 25, 2012, Pete, 87, riding his 22 year old Quarter Horse gelding, Red, won the championship belt buckle for the Winter Series Team Roping at Lolo Peak Arena,

in Lolo, Montana. He roped 18 head with 4 different heelers to accomplish this.

When asked about his long cowboy career, Pete remarked, “I’ve been real lucky, real thankful and enjoyed every bit of it.”