WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
BENJAMIN "TUFFY" PRIDE (79)
2003 COWBOY HALL OF FAME POSTHUMOUS AWARD
Tuffy was born in Willcox December 16, 1923 to Robert Albert (Ben) Pride and Guadalupe Apodoca. He was born into rough and uncertain times. His father was often away from the family home working a fledgling cattle operation in the Galiuro Mountains northwest of Willcox. Tuffy was one of four children; he had an older sister, Louise, an older brother, Jim and a younger sister, Jenny. The family home was on North Biddle Avenue where other family members also lived. Tuffy was a quick learner concerning the care of livestock and had to be a part of the working ranch at a young age. Tuffy's father was a Texan with great regard for the methods of working fine horses and cattle. He was very fond of quality bloodlines and endeavored to make sure that his children knew the standards. Tuffy found that the local school experience was not the most inviting, so by the end of the sixth grade he was sent to work the ranch under the direction of a strong family associate.
At the age of 20, Tuffy was helping his family make applications for federal grants for improvements to the ranch when he met Marlyn L. Rix, who was secretary/receptionist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Service. Their relationship grew and the two were married in November 1943. Tuffy took his bride with him to be a rancher's wife to what has become known as the "Pride Ranch," located seven miles northwest of the Muleshoe Ranch in the Galiuro Mountains. These two ranches are currently owned by The Nature Conservancy and are part of a National Wilderness Area.
Tuffy and Marlyn were happy working the ranch. Over the years they were blessed with three children, a son, William A., and two daughters, Judith Ann and Kathryn Alice.
Tuffy was drafted in 1945 to serve in the U.S. Army. He served with the infantry and was also a military policeman. He received an honorable discharge and returned home to work on the family ranch and the life he liked so much.
Tuffy was active as a professional cowboy in the 1950s and 1960s. He enjoyed calf roping and team roping. He participated with roping partners in competitions throughout Arizona and New Mexico. He was a competitor in shows at Prescott, Wickenburg, Tucson, Phoenix, Sonoita, and Silver City, and always liked to participate in Rex Allen Days. If he was not in competition he could be found at one of the local arenas like the Lakeside Arena where local cowboys were engaged in a 2- or 4-steer average. He had many good roping partners in the Willcox area like Boozer Page, Tom Selman, Lyman Tenney, Rock Vindiola, Jim Hudson, and Alvin Browning. Any time there was a competition you would find him in the company of his father-in-law, Marcellus Rix, who was one of the best team roping partners. There were many Sundays during the summer months that the roping buddies and their families would journey up to the Pride Ranch to do a little practicing and have a good time visiting. Most of them had to ride their horses the last seven miles because the road was too rough to haul the horses. One of the most difficult times in Tuffy's life happened when the Pride Ranch was sold. This happened in the 1960s and Tuffy had to make a change of career. Tuffy and Marlyn made their home east of Willcox on family property they had always referred to as “The Ranchito.” They were able to build a large four-bedroom home there. Tuffy continued to do ranch work for himself and other area ranchers. Other full time work he did in the area included employment with the Cochise County Road Department where he drove a truck and maintained county roads. After leaving the Cochise County Road Department he worked road construction with Ashton Company and helped to build several highways around southern Arizona.
One of his favorite places to work was the Willcox Livestock Auction. He worked the auction for various owners throughout the years. He always liked to work cattle and horses and to meet old and new friends.
One of the highlights of Tuffy's life was when people addressed him as “Doctor Pride”. During the time he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the screwworm eradication program. This work was ideal as it provided the chance to help area ranchers in rounding up their cattle and protecting them from a dreaded pest. He enjoyed helping area ranchers to improve their cattle operations.
After retiring, he served as proprietor of the saloon in Gleeson. Tuffy passed away on April 30, 1983. He was a great inspiration to those who knew him for the respect he showed for livestock, land and friends. He never lost his love for the ranch life where he could rope cattle and ride horses.
Prepared by Bill Pride