An honored observer
The Crooked River Roundup is going to be different for Dan Severance this year.
Instead of running the barrier rope during the rodeo and being an identifier at the races — as he has done for 14 years — he'll be watching the action from the grandstands.
The lifelong Crook County rancher resigned from the Roundup board last year but is honored as the 2019 Crooked River Roundup Grand Marshal.
"He was a big contributor on a lot of new ideas to change things that didn't work, to better the rodeo and the races," says Crooked River Roundup Director Jerry Bernard, who has known Severance for more than 60 years. "He wanted to make the Roundup better, and, of course, that's all of our goal is to make it better. We have to change things that don't work and implement new ideas."
Bernard says Severance did a lot of volunteer work for the Roundup when he owned Fair Feed and Supply in Prineville.
"He's just a good guy, and he deserves to be the grand marshal," Bernard says.
Severance was born in the late spring of 1944 to Ned and Barbara Severance. He and his two brothers, Terry and Joe, were raised on the Severance Ranch just outside of Paulina. His grandparents Harry and Eva Severance homesteaded on the South Fork of the Crooked River.
He grew up on the Camp Creek Ranch, and, according to his mother, he was a dependable child, sometimes getting up in the mornings to milk the cow, even when it was his brother's job.
Severance attended Paulina Elementary School through eighth grade. Barbara and the three boys moved to Prineville during their high school years, while Ned stayed on the ranch.
While at Crook County High School, Severance played football, wrestled and met his future wife, Carolyn Still. He graduated on his 18th birthday in 1962.
After graduation, Severance went to work on the family ranch, which mainly produced Angus and Hereford cross cattle. He and Carolyn married in 1964 and settled in the Camp Creek house. They had three children, Coleen, Travis and Justin, and continued to live on the ranch until 1990.
Severance enjoyed team roping, so he built an arena, and friends from the Upper Country and all over would come to rope. He competed as a team roper in the Paulina Rodeo, usually as a heeler unless he roped with his wife — then she was the heeler. Carolyn also liked to barrel race.
"I did some other stuff for rodeo, but I never did do any of the buckin' stock because Dad told me if I got out there and got hurt that it's kinda hard to get my irrigating and riding done at home," Severance chuckled.
He was a member of the Paulina Rodeo Board, serving as secretary/treasurer and president over many years.
During the winter, Severance, his family and friends, the Weavers, Schnabeles, Grahams and Bernards, enjoyed snowmobiling in the Maury Mountains and Snow Mountain. He also enjoys deer and elk hunting.
After Coleen completed eighth grade at Paulina Elementary School, Carolyn and the kids moved to Prineville to continue their education. Severance stayed back at the ranch and took care of things on the home front, making frequent trips to town to attend sporting events.
After the Severance Ranch sold in 1990, the family moved to town, and he went to work as the greens superintendent at the Prineville Golf and Country Club for six years.
"My grandma was a charter member of that, and then my mom played some," Severance says, noting that he has been a member of the golf club since 1984 and still likes to play in tournaments.
Severance and his son Justin went into the construction business for several years and then bought Fair Feed and Supply in 2000. Severance continued to own and operate the feed store until selling and retiring in May of 2018.
He and his wife lived on 120 acres, where they raised a small herd of cattle. After Carolyn passed away in 2013, he moved back to a smaller place on Johnson Creek Road but still has a few cattle around. He has nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In 2015, Severance was named the Crook County Stock Grower of the Year.
"That was quite an honor," Severance says, adding that he was chosen because he'd been a rancher his whole life and helped the ranchers. "I tried to keep all the vaccines they needed and feed that they needed and worked with the ranchers. That's the only reason I really got the store to start with is because I wanted to help out because I knew when I was doing it, it was a tough business."
It's that same desire to help others that landed him a Crooked River Roundup board position.
"I was with the Paulina Rodeo Club until I moved in here, and then I was here for about four years before I was approached to get on the Roundup," Severance recalls.
Board member Doug Smith asked him to join.
"I had the feed store, and I figured I could help out because I didn't want to do it if I wasn't going to be able to help out," Severance says. "I had some equipment that I could use down there and donated time and equipment."
Severance, who is now 75, served as a board member for 14 years.
"I enjoyed helping out down there in the horse races and rodeo, both," he says, adding that during the rodeo, he ran the barrier rope.
"I was an identifier at the horse races," Severance says. "You check all the tattoos and make sure they have the right horse in the right race."
More recently, he's taught his son Justin, who is on the Roundup board, to be an identifier. Severance's other son, Travis, and his wife, Kim, are also on the Roundup board.
Severance says the Roundup has been getting better the last few years.
"It's the whole board. We had a really good board put together. It was ranked up there pretty high for a medium-size rodeo a year ago," he points out.
"I finally decided that I couldn't do as much as I wanted to for the board, so I resigned last year after the end of the year. Then they called me and decided that maybe I wanted to be the grand marshal," he chuckled. "I accepted that."
But, he's going to miss the Roundup action.
"I love being around the people and getting to meet new people," he says. "It's quite an honor to be the grand marshal."