WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
JACK BUSENBARK (40)
1990 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
The following biography was written at the time of Mr. Busenbark's induction.
Andrew (Jack) Busenbark was born September 22, 1920 on the NY Ranch which is one mile east of Middle March Canyon and seven miles west of Pearce in the Dragoon Mountains. Jack's father, Jackson, bought the NY brand from Dave Drew in 1901 and established the present NY Ranch in 1914. In 1917 Jackson married Anne Adams Mulkey, a widow with six children. Anne died when Jack was three years old so he started learning the ranching business and cowboy life at a young and tender age from his father, who also had to be mother to three boys ages 3, 5 and 7.
Jack attended first grade in Dragoon and second grade in Russellville, west of the Johnson Mine, where his half sister Lena Mulkey taught. The rest of his school years through high school were in Pearce.
Busenbark has been involved in ranching practically all his life. He said his parents put him up on milk cows when he was just a baby. "We rode burros and milk calves. Anything we could catch," Busenbark said. At the age of 15 he went on his first roundup. Busenbark tells of sleeping on the ground and being around a chuck wagon.
Jack worked for Charles McKinney as a cowboy for a while and tried his hand climbing poles for a power company in Washington State. He also worked for the City of Tombstone for about a year. Jack entered the Air Force in 1942 and was a P38 pilot. His combat time was in the China-India-Burma Theater. He was discharged in 1946 and came back to the NY Ranch where he bought more land at Pearce and east of Pearce.
Jack married Margaret (Peach) Ellis in 1948. While Busenbark was ranching, he also worked as a Deputy Sheriff for Cochise County from 1969 to 1983, retiring from the force as a Lieutenant. "There's something different all the time," Busenbark said of law enforcement, "Everyday there is something new," Busenbark, also a pilot, said he caught a planeload of marijuana west of Pearce about 15 years ago. Because he was a pilot, he said he could tell the plane was getting ready to land.
Except for the time Busenbark spent in the service flying planes during World War II, he has lived in the Pearce area near the ranch he was born on. Active in his community, Busenbark was secretary/treasurer of the Valley Telephone Cooperative Board for 24 years. He is also a member of the Southwest Pioneer Cowboys Association. Busenbark served on the Pearce School District Board for 15 years and the Northern Cochise Community Hospital Board for 18 years. He also served on the Willcox/San Simon Soil Conservation Board, the Cochise County Fair Board and the Yucca Sierra Country Club Board.
From 1947 to 1961 Busenbark was a member of the Rodeo Cowboy Association. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, a charter member of the Willcox Elks Club, the Willcox Vets Club and the Willcox Sheriffs Posse. Busenbark is also an honorary member of the Willcox Future Farmers of America and a member of the American Pilots Association. He also spent 17 years working as a community 4-H leader in Pearce.
Busenbark, who is a gold card holder in the Law Enforcement Rodeo Association, was named the team roping champion of the Association 1979.
His roping skills have been passed on to his daughter, JoAnn Garey of Willcox, and his two granddaughters. "They're excellent cowgirls," Busenbark said. "They rope in competition." Busenbark also has a daughter, Mary Appel, who is a teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada, Along with his granddaughters, Busenbark has two great-granddaughters, ages two and five. The five-year old is "learning to ride." He also has eight month old great-grandson.
Busenbark said being inducted into the Hall of Fame is "a thrill." He adds that ranching is a good life. "I wouldn't do anything different."