WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
R.L. ROBBS (109)
2012 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
R.L. Robbs was born in a small, West Texas town, growing up with his 6 brothers and sisters on a modest farm amongst a handful of cattle and horses. R. L. said, "My mother had so many children that she run out of full names so all I got were initials." So, R.L. stands for R.L. Floyd is the older brother and there were 2 older sisters, then R.L. and finally twin brothers. It was said that R.L. learned his management skills by "bossing" his twin brothers around. At the age of 11 his mother died and he went to live with one of his older sisters. They owned a cotton gin, and it was there that R.L. learned skills he is still using today.
He attended and graduated from Plainview High School in Plainview, Texas. An early interest in livestock was fueled through the FFA, as he was on the livestock judging team for 4 years, and he was the FFA President his senior year. His Ag teacher, Mr. Duffy, was very instrumental in encouraging his success in the agriculture field. During his high school days R.L. drove from Plainview, Texas to Willcox, Arizona to work on his brother, Floyd's, farm during the summer.
R.L. never thought much about college or that he would ever have the opportunity to attend college after high school. However, his big brother had a different plan for R.L.'s life. Floyd had graduated from the University of Oklahoma and actually INSISTED that his brother embark on a college career; most of R.L.'s buddies were headed to West Texas State University in Canyon, TX.... so he followed along. There he received a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science. He was also on the West Texas State Livestock Judging team for 4 years. The highlight of his college career was the West Texas State Livestock Judging team placing 1St at the Houston Livestock Show Judging Contest.
R.L.'s livestock judging coach again INSISTED that he continue on to graduate school and was instrumental in making sure he was accepted into the New Mexico State Reproduction Physiology Master's Program, but this part of his education was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He only attended one year of grad school at New Mexico State and was on their judging team.
Just before heading to boot camp R. L. had a life changing event, as he met Sally Lou Gordon on a blind date. They said it was love at first sight, and one year later they were married.
We need to discuss this blind date and love at first sight scenario. First of all, the person that set up the blind date is here in the audience this evening, Carol Adcock Cowan. Carol and Sally Lou Gordon were both working for Valley National Bank, and Carol told R.L. he needed to meet Sally and made the arrangements. Now, I don't know if R.L. was worried or concerned about this blind date, but he took it upon himself to go on a "scouting trip" to the bank so he could get sort of an advance preview of what this Sally looked like. He slipped in to the bank and asked which one of the gals was Sally. Little did he know there were two Sallys that worked at the Bank. As fate would have it, he didn't see Sally Lou Gordon, he saw the other Sally. Here is a guy that has spent the last nine years judging livestock, and his instincts are saying: Sally #2 is big a boned gal with more girth than is needed and lacks proper height to be placed any higher in this class. But R.L. is so nice all he actually said was "Ah,...Um How do I say this, Well she was pleasingly plump."
R.L. went on the blind date anyway... and who walked around the corner, Sally Lou Gordon. Now this Sally, in the eyes of this same livestock judge, was perfect and he placed her at the top of the class. He didn't know it at the time, but R.L. had just found his grand champion. You better believe it was love at first sight.
R.L. was off to boot camp in El Paso and then transferred to San Antonio where he served in the Medical Corp. On his first three day pass while in San Antonio, he rode a Greyhound Bus to Willcox to work cattle and to propose to Sally. He asked Sally, "Do you think you can live on beans the rest of your life?" She said yes, and they were married in 1967. The newlyweds spent their first year together in Fort Lewis, Washington, where R.L. was stationed.
In 1968, he was discharged from the Army and the couple moved back to Willcox. He and his brother, Floyd, already had 50 head of registered Angus Cattle, and at the urging of Ted Kortsen the Robbs brothers started breeding registered Brangus cattle. In 1983, R.L. and Sally bought out Floyd's interest in the cattle business. For almost 30 years, Robbs Brangus focused on successfully selling seed stock to many ranchers in the Southwest. A primary market for several years was the Mexican market, as R.L. exported many bulls to Mexico during the 1980's and 1990's. He also formed a partnership with a dear friend, Garth Lunt, of Arroyo Seco Brangus, purchasing many herd sires together.
He has managed the Kansas Settlement Cotton Gin for over 35 years and also owned Robbs Customer Harvesting for 30 years. R.L. and Sally have two grown daughters, Shari and D'Lynn. Growing up they were a big part of the ranching operation working cattle or running the combine. Both girls learned the value of a hard day's work and learned to adapt to eating dinner after sundown. They adjusted to riding horseback with their father at 6am, especially when they wanted to ask for money. They learned 6am on horseback was the best time to ask dad for anything.
R.L., Sally and the girls showed their livestock at the Arizona National for over 25 years winning many awards for their heifers. R.L. founded the Southwest Junior Brangus Breeding Program and hosted many 4-H and FFA livestock judging contests. He has been active in the Southwest Brangus Breeders Association, serving as President and Secretary/Treasurer. The Robbs have been the sale managers for the Annual Willcox Livestock Auction all Breed Bull Sale for the past 35 years. R.L. served on the Willcox School Board and was Captain of the Willcox Sheriff's Posse. He is currently doing extensive traveling as President for the International Brangus Breeders Association.
In 2010, R.L. sold the majority of his herd, but continues to run a small herd of registered Brangus cattle. For the last 45 years, R. L. and Sally have worked side by side through ups and downs, feast and famine, floods and droughts. Sally describes R.L. as a person that never seems to have a bad day, he is always positive, but you need to know that he is a neat freak.
R.L. Robbs is a humble man that will say his greatest assets are his friends. There is a saying that fits R.L. "You should count your age by friends, not years." In that case, R.L. Robbs is many many friends old.