IT ALL STARTED AT THE RODEO
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
We’ve heard about the chances of being hit by lightning, winning the lottery or scoring a hole-in-one on the golf course, but nothing about the probability of two distinguished educators meeting up at a rodeo.
Dr. Ronny Collins, former school superintendent at Wellington, Jacksboro, Snyder and Mineral Wells, was a rodeo clown to help finance his college education, and his wife, Terri, a career fifth-grade teacher, rode bulls.
Their first “hello” was in a dusty rodeo arena.
The part about Terri’s bull-riding is not a misprint. She was the youngest sibling, and she tried to “copy” her big brother, who rode bulls.
In her family, it seemed that bull-riding was for everyone, so she hopped on.
She was good, winning numerous buckles, trophies and other awards for staying aboard bulls for at least eight seconds. He was good at clowning, mastering his most unlikely rodeo act after he retired as Mineral Wells ISD superintendent seven years ago.
At age 60, he unveiled his new act–juggling chainsaws. Before you ask, yes, they were running, and keeping the three saws in the air at the same time was daunting. He gave up early trying to juggle a single chainsaw while blindfolded. “When I was successful just once in three tries, Terri had had enough. We drove across Arkansas and much of Texas before she spoke to me,” he laughed.
So, he mastered juggling three chainsaws, all with motors whirring.
“It helped to get my mind off prostate cancer,” he said, now cancer-free. Collins doesn’t perform often, but when he does, it’s with eyes wide open.
Initially, clowning was a “means to an end.” He subbed for a friend at a rodeo when college dorm rent came due, and he was off and running. He “clowned” throughout college years at rodeos around Denton, Fort Worth and Abilene en route to a bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University, where he later earned a master’s degree. (He also holds a Ph.D. degree from Oklahoma State University.)
Collins taught agriculture briefly, but soon was attracted to administration, first in vocational services, then as principal and superintendent. He and Terri have tons of memories, including a parent who showed up at school where his son had gotten swats for misbehaving. “I didn’t see it, so I don’t know if you got the swat thing down right, so would you please do it again.” Yep, the couple is “old school.”
Clearly, Ronny and Terri parented with the best of them. Sons Brad and Todd are now doctors, the former a chiropractor in Midlothian and the latter a dentist in Mabank.
Both sons are graduates of Howard Payne University, where they played a total of seven years in the Division III football program.
“I’m glad both boys entered professions that help others,” Ronny said.
He and Terri bought rural property near Grandview, only a few yards away from Brad and wife Kandace, as well as grandchildren Carter, 13; Codi, 11, and Kenna, 9. (Kandace has a dental practice in Grandview.)
Grandparents should be so lucky to live close to children and grands. The couple now lives only 90 minutes or so from Todd and wife Amy, and their children Tred, 8; Cy, 6, and Adelyn, 4.
“We’ve come full circle,” Ronny said. “I was born in Johnson County, and now we’re back to finish up.”
Besides “grandparenting,” the couple enjoys get-togethers with retired rodeo clowns every two years.
Terri hasn’t ridden any bulls lately, and Ronny only rarely fires up the chainsaws. (Current rodeo clowns haven’t copied his act—at least none that he knows of.)
Domingo Ortega’s poem seems to “fit” Ronny, who has thrived in at least two high-risk
It reads: “Bullfight critics, ranked in rows, crowd the enormous plaza full. But he’s the only one who knows—and he’s the man who fights the bull.”
Dr. Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments or inquiries to:email@example.com. Ph.: 817-447-3872. Web: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.