On Friday (Nov. 8), the Fort Worth Stockyards will say good-bye to a man who was a fan favorite along Exchange Avenue for nearly a decade.
A memorial service, which includes a special cattle drive at 11:30 a.m., will be held for retired Fort Worth Herd drover Rocky Roney, who rode for that outfit from about 2004-12. Roney, 67, died in Fort Worth on Saturday (Nov. 2) from a heart attack.
“Rocky not only was such a dedicated drover, but such a loyal teammate,” said Kristin Jaworski, trail boss for The Herd, which is hosting the memorial service. “I knew that every step I took, he had my back.
“Whether it was riding horses down the red carpet inside the Convention Center to greet a corporate meeting or driving cattle through the Red Bull X-Fighters Motorcross event, that man supported me 100 percent.”
The memorial service will begin with the cattle drive in which Jaworski, on horseback, will lead a riderless horse draped by a pair of Roney’s cowboy boots hanging from a saddle he rode in when he worked for The Herd.
A wagon carrying Roney’s nine children, eight of whom are adults, will be part of the event. Mounted Patrol will lead the procession, the riderless horse will follow as it precedes the wagon carrying the family, and the cattle drive will be behind the family. The drive, which normally starts in front of the Livestock Exchange building heading eastward in the mornings along Exchange, will go in the east-to-west direction that is generally done in the afternoons.
Hub Baker, who heads Cowtown Coliseum, has made the lawn in front of the Coliseum available for the event at which a microphone and podium will be set up for guests who’d like to speak on how Roney touched their lives. Tea and coffee will be available.
Two of Roney’s siblings, Gloria and Carolyn Roney, speaking on behalf of their family, were touched in a special way upon learning Wednesday of the tribute honoring their brother’s memory. Carolyn struggled to hold back tears when Jaworski shared plans for the special day.
Carolyn also said she’ll miss Rocky Roney’s loving personality.
“You couldn’t know a better person than him,” she said. “What I’ll miss most about him is his demeanor, the love that he shared with everyone.”
Gloria Roney said cowboyin’ was without a doubt something Rocky was destined to do.
“He was the only cowboy we had in the family and he was so proud to be a cowboy. That was his true calling,” she said. “Everybody he met, he would let them know that he was the black cowboy for the Fort Worth Herd. He’d let them know what time to come to watch The Herd drive.
“Everybody who met him, I guarantee you that before they walked away, they knew he was a cowboy for The Herd, that he drove those cattle.”
Drover Brenda Taylor, who worked with Rocky Roney, chuckled as she recalled how her then-coworker’s often overly enthusiastic personality would get him into some awkward positions.
“It was always the Rocky Roney Show,” Brenda remembered. One incident in particular came to mind.
There was the time, she recalled, when Roney, riding The Herd’s original “Little Texas,” unwittingly rode up to a group of deaf persons and said, “Hey! Y’all wanna see a cowboy crack his whip?! Then he started popping the whip, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’”
People in the group just looked at him as if what he was trying to do didn’t resonate with them.
“We ribbed him for years over that,” Taylor said with a laugh.
One of Roney’s favorite things to do when talking with visitors at the Stockyards was to show off something he’d taught his trusty steed, Little Texas.
“The most frequent statement Rocky ever made was ‘Smile, Little Texas,’” said Jaworski, who Roney had always proudly referred to as a daughter figure even though she was his boss. “He must have told his horse that at least 500,000 times when he greeted that many visitors to the Stockyards. I see that smile and that smiling horse all around me, even now.”
All memorial service guests must park at Billy Bob’s Texas, where parking will be free until 3 p.m., Jaworski said. Everyone is asked to arrive at the event (in front of Cowtown Coliseum) at 10:30 a.m.
Gloria Roney said anyone who can’t attend the memorial service in the Stockyards on Friday can visit Tree of Life Funeral Home, 1051 S. Handley, in Fort Worth, where there will be a viewing from noon to 8 p.m.
A graveside service is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday at Skyvue Memorial Gardens, 7220 Rendon Bloodworth Rd., in Mansfield.
Rocky Roney is survived by his mother, Annie Roney, of Fort Worth; two sons, Victor Brooks and Antoine Simpson, both of Fort Worth; eight daughters, Shamon Cooper, of Odessa; Raqueal Johnson, of California; Valencia Durden, of Dallas; Ashley Simpson, of Fort Worth; Rockisha Roney, of Fort Worth; Antoinette Simpson, of Fort Worth; and Kinyada Roney, of Fort Worth.
He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his father, Willie John Roney; a son, Rocky Roney Jr.; and a sister, Shirley Watson.
Donald Lee may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org