Harold Lloyd ‚ÄúBuddy‚ÄĚ Heaton, age 82, passed away at the Legacy at Park View Nursing Home in Ulysses, Kansas, April 14th.¬† He was nationally known as a professional rodeo clown and bullfighter who had a knack for sensationalism and was never hesitant to try new, unproven antics to make his acts more unique and entertaining.
Heaton was born March 30, 1929, in Alva, Oklahoma to Lloyd and Fayetta Hazard Heaton.¬† He spent his youth learning to work with animals especially horses.¬† By the age of twelve he had acquired a talent for performing as a rodeo clown and could jump horses over cars.¬† He began his rodeo career in 1944 and entertained audiences across the nation and Canada.¬† He worked for various producers like Reg Kesler, Harry Vold, Beutler Brothers, and Paul Long, at some of the largest rodeos in the country.¬† Cheyenne Frontier Days, Dodge City, KS, ¬†and Calgary Stampede, plus too many to list.¬† He was also a competitor of all events, but eventually rode roughstock and wrestled steers.
His outrageous outlook on life allowed him to do things others wouldn‚Äôt dare.¬† Most publicized was his appearance in the parade for John F. Kennedy in 1961, when riding his buffalo, Grunter,¬† he merely segued in with a group from Fort Worth.¬† Not to be satisfied with that coup he charged his buffalo toward the podium where Kennedy sat.¬† The secret service men protecting Kennedy came forth with guns ready, but when things calmed down Heaton and Kennedy shook hands.
Reg Kesler, now deceased, told of Heaton always thinking up sensational ideas for rodeo spectators.¬† Once in Canada Heaton told Kesler he found a tall pole behind the bleachers and on it was a taut wire.¬† He rigged a pulley so he could enter the arena from the top of this pole.¬† When he actually attempted to perform this ‚Äėentrance‚Äô his speed increased so fast he had to release and fall to the ground, where he plowed up the turf and was stunned for some time.¬† Later, Kesler, jokingly asked Heaton if he would perform that trick at each performance it was truly a laugh-getter.¬† There are more stories about his experiences and antics, in and out of the arena, than any other rodeo clown/bullfighter, in the profession.
Heaton was a remarkable animal trainer.¬† In addition to his trained buffalo, Grunter, that he rode across the country, he also had an Appaloosa horse named, ‚ÄúHigh Hand‚ÄĚ that had a vast array of tricks he could perform, including jumping straight up.¬† Heaton said after he retired the horse, in the pasture, he would still perform the trick.¬† He also rode the trick horse, ‚ÄúHigh Hand‚ÄĚ, while steer wrestling at the Denver National Western Stock Show & Rodeo and won the event.
This 6‚Äô3‚ÄĚ, 215 pound, monster of a man suffered many injuries due to his antics, but it never stopped him from performing.¬† Although his rodeo career ended in 1977, he continued to perform at venues from football games to private parties when asked.
He is survived by his wife Laura Lee, of Ulysses, Kansas; sons Ted Heaton and wife Judy, and Tom Heaton of Hugoton, Kansas; daughters Linda Lee Brecheisen and husband, Randy, of Wyandotte, Oklahoma; Rhonda Neal, and husband, Ray, and Cindy Jo Gallaway of Ulysses, Kansas, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Buddie Lawrence Heaton.
Funeral services were held at the Country View Church, north of Ulysses, Kansas, April 18th.¬† Burial was at Ulysses Cemetery.¬† Memorials can be sent in his name to the Justin Crisis Fund, 101 ProRodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919
In January, 2008 a very insightful article was written about Buddy. ¬†You can enjoy it here.¬† http://coffeehousephilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/buddy-heaton-original-ring-tailed.html