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Billy Wootres Passed Away

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Not sure that this belongs here but he was certainly a part of history. If it doesn't then please move it.

As some of you know I was working with Billy to capture the flair,style and techniques from older saddlemakers. Sadly that ceasedseveral months ago as he became sicker and sicker before we were ableto complete answers to many of the questions we had come up with.

Billy was to many a relative unknown. However as someone who grew upin New Mexico riding and working cattle at an early age, he was wellknown to me. His was the first New Mexico made saddle that I eversaw. It was certainly a big deal after seeing so many Porters and soforth. I later learned of ones like Slim Green and many more but hewas the first I had seen. In a way he was responsible for me gettingthe saddle bug if you will. I later met up with him when he and BobDellis ran Maverick Leather.

He was slated next week to receive the Academy of Western Artists DonKing Saddlemaker Award but his wife Vivian and daughters will maketheir way to Garland to accept.

I have included the information from Paul about him below. He is a friend that will be sorely missed.

Biography - Billy Wootres, Master Saddle Maker

Billy Wootres was born on April 13, 1927 in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Itwas at about the age of ten that Billy found work for himself in thesaddle shop of Mr. Billy Green in Las Vegas, New Mexico. That year of1937 saw the beginning of a lifetime of saddle making excellence andleather artistry from the heart and hand of Mr. Billy Wootres. Billyworked for Mr. Green right up until a hitch in the Navy struck him as apretty good way for a fresh-faced kid from the cattle country ofnortheastern New Mexico to see a little of what else lay hidden outthere in the world. So that's what he did.

Mustering out after serving his time before the mast, Billy returnedhome to Las Vegas where he began teaching vocational leather craft. Todo it though, he found it necessary to put together the firstvocational leather craft course ever offered at New Mexico HighlandsUniversity.

After a time Billy undertook an apprenticeship with saddle maker, Mr.O.W. Jolly, in his shop in Abilene, Texas. Successfully completing hisapprenticeship, journeyman saddle maker, Billy Wootres, worked his wayaround Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, honing his skillsand broadening the scope of his understanding at benches in many a goodshop throughout the southwest. They were places like Brown's Boots andSaddles and Dan's Boots and Saddles in Albuquerque and Slim Green's inTesuque, New Mexico. There was time spent working for Guy Reedhead inPhoenix, and Wall's Livestock Supply in Porterville, California. InTexas, Billy made saddles, tacks, and accoutrements for Johnny Bean andS. D. Myers in El Paso. He also worked with Wilburn Thomas' outfit inSilver City, New Mexico and made saddles for the stars with Edward H.Bolin in Hollywood. Through the years, Billy operated several saddleshops of his own in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Mountainair, and El Paso.Every place Billy put his tools to the task, he worked to get better,and his renown for excellence, craftsmanship, and beauty grew, makinghis work ever more highly sought after.

Such was Billy's renown that he was commissioned to build 27 trophysaddles for the Bernalillo County, 4-H Club rodeos. Every one of thosesaddles were bought and paid for by "The Albuquerque Journal" newspaperorganization. The custom design work and stamping on them was donatedby Billy himself.

Health concerns forced Billy to retire from saddle making for a timebut by 1998, his health having improved, he was back at the benchoperating Wootres' Hand-Carved Leather, in Albuquerque, New Mexico; hisobjective being the improvement of his carving to the point ofheirloom-quality work. One would also find him there making and sellinghis own stamping tools while still finding time to teach leathercarving to several protégés and local guild members.

Billy made his last saddle in March 2005 and donated it to Cowboys forCancer Research (C4CR), at their team-roping event in Las Cruces, NewMexico.

In 1977 Sid Latham, of Leathercraft magazine, wrote a feature articleabout Billy. Examples of his artistry have graced the cover of the HideCrafters Digest and been published in Shop Talk magazine.

In August of 2009, Billy was invited by the Academy of Western Artiststo receive the prestigious, "Don King Lifetime Saddle Maker Award," tobe presented in Garland, Texas in September.

Albuquerque Journal Newspaper - Obituary - Billy W. Wootres Sr.

Billy W. Wootres Sr., 82, passed away September 7, 2009.

Billy was born on April 13, 1927, to John W. And Willie McCargo Wootresin Las Vegas, New Mexico. He is survived by Vivian, his wife of almost52 years. Other survivors include daughter Wanda Wootres and husbandBill Jaynes, daughter Nelda Pocs and husband Rene, grandson CoreyChristman and wife Sandra; grandchildren Jonna and Cole Jaynes, andgranddaughter Tracy Pocs; great grandsons Marcus and Matthew Christman;nephew Christopher Wootres of Virginia; and nieces Roberta Tarling ofEngland, and Cathay Lewis of Wales. His son, Billy Jr., his parents,and his brother, Jack, preceded him in death.

Following a short stint in the Navy, Billy attended New MexicoHighlands University in Las Vegas. He taught the first VocationalLeather Craft Class at the University. Billy served a 4-year saddlemaking apprenticeship in Abilene, TX, and worked as a JourneymanSaddlemaker in many Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California saddleshops. He also owned saddle shops in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, andMountainair. Billy was a well-known saddle maker and leather carver. Hemade about 3000 saddles during his career, and many are still used onranches in NM, TX, AZ, and CA. Some of them have been in use for 40years. While living in Albuquerque, Billy made 27 saddles for theBernalillo County 4-H Rodeos. At one time, he sold his tools andretired due to poor health. He couldn't obtain tools quickly enoughwhen his health improved, so he began designing and making toolshimself. Some of his tools were bought by leather carvers from othercountries. Billy made his last saddle in 2005 and donated it to Cowboysfor Cancer Research (C4CR) at their team roping event in Las Cruces,NM. C4CR raffled the saddle, and donated the $13,400 in proceeds to theUniversity of New Mexico Cancer Research and Development Center inAlbuquerque. One of the winners of a Billy Wootres trophy saddle at the1989 4-H Rodeo was riding his saddle at the 2005 team roping.

Later this month, Billy will receive the prestigious Don KingSaddlemaker Award given by the Academy of Western Artists. He waselected unanimously by a panel of his saddle making peers.

Billy was a member of Eastern Hills Baptist Church and the New MexicoRoadrunner Leather Guild. He was a member of Five Points Masonic Lodgeand Scottish Rite, El Paso, TX. During his rodeo days, he was a memberof the Rodeo Cowboys Association, which is now the Professional RodeoCowboys Association. He was a Master Gardner and gave classes ongardening methods.

Family and friends paid their respects at French Mortuary on Wednesday,September 9th. Services were held at Eastern Hills Baptist Church,Albuquerque, NM on September 10, 2009. Pallbearers were CoreyChristman, Cole Jaynes, Christopher Wootres, Philip Jones, PaulBrinegar, and Paul Zalesak. Honorary pallbearers were Jonna Jaynes,Tracy Pocs, Rene Pocs, Bill Jaynes, John Atkins, G.M. "Dogie" Jones,and Alvin Chewiwi. Following cremation, a private graveside service washeld at the Mountainair Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions my be made to:

University of New Mexico Cancer Center MSC 084630

Attention Development Department, (Indicate "In Memory of Billy Wootres")

1 University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM 87131

Cowboys for Cancer Research

P.O. Box 202

Las Cruces, NM 88032

Eastern Hills Baptist Church

3100 Morris NE

Albuquerque, NM 87111


First Baptist Church

Mountainair, NM 87036.

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Rest in Peace Brother Wootres.

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I knew him by name and reputation only. I'm sorry to hear of his passing, and more sorry to hear that it happened before his important work of compiling the history was finished.

Does anyone have any photographic examples of his work that they could post?



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