WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
CLAUD GARDNER (15)
1985 COWBOY HALL OF FAME POSTHUMOUS AWARD
Claud Gardner was born in San Angelo, Texas in 1894. His parents were Mabrey Gardner and Ellen Lowe Gardner. They had 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls. The family came to the Willcox area in a covered wagon when Claud was just a small boy. Mabrey raised horses and raced them all over Texas and Arizona. He had some of the finest horses around. Therefore, it was natural for Claud to take an active interest in horses and cattle.
He began working on the ranches in the area when he was 16 years old. Claud was a ranch hand, along with Juan Leon, on the Sierra Bonita Ranch and the M.K. Ranch.
Gardner joined the Army during World War I and served in the Field Artillery from 1916 to 1918. Returning from the war he bought 16 sections of land and started a ranch, raising Hereford cattle and quarter horses. Claud was a good cattleman and an excellent roper, entering all rodeos.
Claud married Ruth Clark in Safford on March 23, 1926 and the happy couple moved to their ranch in Bonita. Ruth was the sister of Fay Clark Allen, mother of Rex Allen. Two children were born to them, Claudine and Elden.
Claud once sold a horse that he often wished he'd kept. The horse was named "Soap Suds" and Claud sold him to Will Rogers. Rogers said that "Soap Suds" was his favorite horse. There is a statue of him in the Will Rogers Museum.
A severe drought hit the area in 1932 and Gardner developed a painful case of arthritis and had to retire from the ranch.
Claud Gardner died in 1950.