WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
BILL BUSENBARK (19)
The following biography was written at the time of Mr. Busenbark's induction.
1983 COWBOY HALL OF FAME CHARTER MEMBER
Bill Busenbark has seen some hard times in the years that he's been a rancher. "There's been problems with cattle and long times with no rain, but we always got through it. In this business you just have to bend with the wind and draw in your belt every now and then."
Busenbark, a rancher in the Pearce area, was born in Tucson but brought to Dos Cabezas as an infant and raised there on Rancho Sacatal. After he grew up he ranched in Kansas Settlement until he opened up his present ranch in Pearce in 1953. At 81, he is still an active rancher.
"I like the Pearce area," he said, "It's good ranch country and the surroundings are just right." He keeps abreast of the countryside and problems that may develop, getting around in his pickup and looking things over, checking on the cattle and the land.
"Owning and running your own spread is a lot of work," Busenbark said, "and you always had to be a cowboy right along with being a rancher. If it's a really big ranch you'll have a general manager and a foreman to take on a lot of the responsibility and see that things are done. This is just a small ranch though, about 34 or 36 sections." He presently runs about 300 head of cattle.
Busenbark says things have changed in the ranching business. "For instance, we used to sell our cattle by the head," he said. "Now we sell them by the pound. And we used to have big roundups, but now there's fences. The Ranches are also smaller than they used to be because the big ones have been broken down into small spreads and divided amongst the children in the family."
Busenbark knows the "ins and outs" of ranching. It's been his life and he says he's never really been interested in much of anything else. He has no hobbies, just his ranch.
His wife, Cornelia, has been a "real ranch wife," according to Busenbark. "She's responsible for the success of this ranch."
Busenbark learned just about everything there was to know about working and handling cattle from his father, Charles. His dad had been a straw boss for the Chiricahua Cattle Company and was one of the "true old timers." "He was respected by everyone who know him," Busenbark said. "But he died when I was only 17 years old. If he could have lived a little longer I could have learned so much more from him.
Busenbark wouldn't live any other life but the one he's known, if he had the choice to make again. "But it is harder to get started today," he said. "A young man trying to start his own place in this day and time would have to have a considerable amount of money just to buy an outfit. The work follows that. But if a person is really interested in what he's doing it's not that hard to work for what you want.
A whole lot of the success and future of a place would depend on a young man, his attitude and his outlook on life. I'd look at that before I gave any advice. If we got past that then we'd talk about the financial obstacles and the never ending work."
Busenbark has no plans for retirement. His future lies in just staying where he is right now. He has plans for his grandson, Mark Graham, to go into a partnership with him on the ranch.
Going along with his interest in ranching and cattle, Busenbark has been a longtime member of the Arizona State Cattle Growers Association. However, he says, he doesn't attend the meetings. "I'm not much on crowds," he said. "I don't know if I'm smart or if I'm just plain antisocial, but I like to stick pretty close to home. When I do get ready to go somewhere or be around people, I prefer to choose my own time and place."
Busenbark says that life has been good. The way he's chosen has brought him a wife who works side by side with him, a ranch he takes pride in and surrounding countryside that he loves.
As far as his success as a cowboy and rancher goes he can only credit it to one thing: a good strong constitution to keep him going through the years. Bill Busenbark passed away in December of 1988, at the age of 79.