When long time Barriere resident, Dick Ross, passed away on February 18 of this year, many were saddened at the news. A champion for the community, Ross contributed as a volunteer throughout his life to making the community all that it could be.
Dick served in the Armed Forces, and held an original membership in the Royal Canadian Legion since 1954. He was a past-president of the Barriere Lions Club, and a Charter Member.
He drove ambulance, school bus, fought fires, and was a Charter Member of the Chu Chua Volunteer Fire Department.
He loved to coach kids, and was a driving force behind starting the construction of the original Barriere Ball Park. He also was instrumental in organizing the Barriere Maroons Softball Team in 1960 – and served as a coach for that organization.
Dick found the time to work for the railway, run a cattle ranch, work for a mining company, and any number of other jobs or volunteer positions that might have come his way over the years.
However, for all who knew Dick Ross, it was obvious that he had a fierce love for family, kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and of course his wife of 29 years, Carmen.
But right behind family came his other passion – rodeo – the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo to be exact. Ever since 1959, until his passing, Dick was dedicated to making the annual rodeo in Barriere something that the whole North Thompson Valley could be very proud of. He spent every spare moment at the fairgounds, usually in the rodeo arena, working the ground, picking rocks out of the footing, and grooming the entire area so it was always ready at the drop of a hat to host the never ending excitement of rodeo.
Dick was also an avid roper, and twice a week through the summer months Dick would join other cowboys and cowgirls in the rodeo arena; they’d rope some stock, socialize, and share some laughs. In fact, Dick roped right up until the end of the season last year, most notable being able to rope with his grandson; something which provided a special moment for the man.
When Dick passed, Carmen and the family felt it only fitting to hold his funeral service and celebration of life in the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association’s rodeo arena. This was the place that he loved, and this was the place where he had organized the Fair’s first rodeo way back in 1973, and continuing to organize to this day.
It was truly most fortunate that the rodeo arena had been chosen for the service, as no where else in Barriere would have been able to seat the approximately 800 people who turned out to pay tribute to Dick Ross. One attendee commented that there were so many cars parked along Barriere Lakes Road, “It looked just like Fall Fair weekend!”.
Jay Savage, who has been the rodeo announcer at the annual fall fair rodeo for well over 25 years, gave the eulogy, as well as officiating over the service. Gordie West and Butch Falk provided Dick’s favourite cowboy songs; and tributes were given by the Barriere Legion Branch 242, the Barriere Lion’s Club, the BC Rodeo Association, and the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association.
Dick’s family, friends, favourite dog, and even his riderless horse were all in attendance to wish a great member of the Barriere community goodbye.
North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association president, Jill Hayward, said in her tribute, “I know if Dick could be standing here with us today – waiting while we all had our say – he’d be picking up rocks out of the arena footing and pitching them out of his arena. He took great pride in his arena. He poured his heart, his sweat, and a huge portion of his life into it. I’m very happy to tell everyone gathered here today, that the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association have voted unanimously to name this arena – the Dick Ross Memorial Arena. It will be officially dedicated in his name at the 2013 fall fair on Saturday, Aug. 31, during the first performance of the BCRA Rodeo. Thanks Dick – know that the friends you leave behind in this Association feel privileged to have known you – we’ll be thinking of you often. May all your horses be fast – your ropes fly true – and may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”