MONTANA COWBOY HALL OF FAME & WESTERN HERITAGE INDUCTEE
Deane William Copping (1927 – 2011)
Deane William Copping was born to George William and Myra Deane (Wiley) Copping in Glendive, Montana, on November 20, 1927. He attended Washington Elementary school and graduated from Dawson County High School where he lettered each year in football, playing the position of fullback on a state championship team. It was during his teenage years that Deane found his real niche in life – horses, cattle, and the life of a cowboy, while working on ranches in the Glendive area during the summer months.
After high school, Deane started going to rodeos with his brother Chuck. When his brother quit riding broncs to get married, Deane kept rodeoing. He pursued his favorite event, bull dogging, and became a Gold Card member of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association. He took time from rodeo and ranch work when he enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1951. He proudly served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne until he was honorably discharged in 1953.
After his discharge, he settled in Richey, Montana. He bought cows; branded them with his 101 iron and leased land to run on. Deane enjoyed the life of a bachelor cowboy.
Although Deane never married, nor did he have children of his own, he enjoyed young children as well as teaching and mentoring teenagers and young adults. This was shown through the many stories told by his nieces and nephews who often came to Glendive to visit in the summer. They would all tell of the memorable times that Uncle Deane went out of his way to spend time with them. Riding horses on the Baker ranch, taking them along to a rodeo, and the many stories and jokes he told them – all with a twinkle in his eye.
The desire to help young people carried over into the rodeo arena. You could find Deane at most every high school and college rodeo assisting and coaching anyone who wanted to compete in bull dogging and roping events. He had a great team of horses, that a good number of kids learned to dog on. Deane handled the hazing and the instructing as to when to “get down.” Jim Baisch recalls traveling with Deane to rodeos where Jim won the bareback riding and Deane won the bulldogging. Deane once remarked “Don't worry about winning first, because then you'll have to stay and help pay for the party. If you win second place, you can still go to the party, and take your paycheck home with you.”
When Deane retired from rodeo, he kept his horses and was always on call to help gather and work cattle for area ranchers. He spent time braiding key chains and halter ropes, trimming horses’ feet, and helping with chores wherever he was needed. Most of the time for no pay.
One of Deane's favorite stomping grounds was the Trail Star Cafe. After his horses were fed and taken care of, he would go there for breakfast and coffee time. Cindy Cudmore, who was the manager, said that he would wait around to see if any pinochle players showed up. If he couldn't get a game started, he would help the girls roll napkins and silverware, tend bar in the casino or whatever odd job needed done. Cindy and Deane were good friends, and when he was having some health issues, she repaid him by driving him to doctors’ appointments. She tells about his jokes and stories, and remarks that he would tell about those trips just to try and embarrass her. One time she waited in the car while he went in to see the doctor, a nurse came out to the car and said, “Deane told me to “Go out and tell - “The Wife” - everything the doctor said”. Cindy would just shake her head. Deane believed in earning what he acquired and that included his friends. He had many and counted them as part of his greatest possessions.
Bob Petermann reflects, “In 1992 the Hinebauch ranch, southeast of Glendive, started booking guests for cattle drive vacations, with the offer to participate in branding calves, moving cattle to fresh grass and sometimes trailing steers to town in the fall. We took groups of 15 or 20 people at least twice a year for nearly ten years. Deane was a big part of the crew, bringing two or three good horses guests could ride. Some things about him that left an impression was the way he treated the guests. When they first arrived and introductions were made, Deane took his hat off to every one of the ladies, keeping alive an old “Code of the West” tradition of respect that sometimes gets forgotten. He loved to dance, and as I recall, I never saw him dance with his hat on. Deane had a way of making everyone feel like they were part of the crew. He spent time with them, showing them how to bridle and saddle their own horses, giving them tips on riding skills, and answering their questions about what we were doing. We went out for three days with a chuck wagon and a bedroll wagon and moved camp every night. Deane was always helping people set up their tents or helping the cook, and always entertaining everyone with jokes. He gifted every one of the guests with one of his braided key chains and sharpened every knife in camp. There are many people with great memories of sharing a week on a ranch with real cowboys and left the ranch with a new respect for what ranching life is all about.”
Deane suffered a stroke that took away his independence and his ability to speak, but it did not rob his smile, the twinkle in his eye or that black hat. When his sister-in-law Delores and nephew Clint talked to him about selling his horses, he understood well enough what they were saying and that it was time. He thought for a moment, made his decision, took that black hat and waved it goodbye to his horses.
There is a cowboy poem titled “Of Horses and Men” written by Jay Snider. The last verse reads:
“Sometimes simple words seem best
When final words we choose,
He dern sure was a good one
He's the kind you hate to lose.”
Deane passed away on January 20, 2011. He was a brother, a brother-in-law, an uncle, a friend, and “dern sure” a real true Cowboy.
Reference: Stories and memories from: Bob Kinney, Jim Baisch, Cindy Cudmore, Bob Petermann, Delores Copping, Clint Copping, and Steve Hinebauch.