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24 new inductees honored into Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame

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New inductees to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame
Posted at 7:38 AM, Feb 12, 2024

GREAT FALLS - Twenty-four cowboys were inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall Of Fame on Saturday at the Heritage Inn in Great Falls.

“The Hall Of Fame was an idea that came out of a small group that started out just to honor a local rodeo,” said DuWayne Wilson, board chair for the MCHF. “Then we decided that there was a bigger need for bigger things, so we started branching out to a statewide thing. Our first induction was actually 2008.”

Each year, 24 cowboys and cowgirls are inducted into the MCHF. These individuals are recognized for their contributions to Montana’s Western way of life, landscape, ranches, and wildlife.

Rancher Durl Gibbs, 98, was one of the inductees Saturday and said he never thought that would ever happen.

“They called me up and said, ‘Hey, you're going to be nominated into Montana Cowboys Hall of Fame,’ and (my grandson) called me and said, ‘Grandpa, this just made my day,’ and I’ve been so happy because of my grandson, and this has made my day, even though I'm 98.”

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2024

Another Montana rancher, Dutch Lunak, said teaching today’s youth to ranch and be cowboys and cowgirls is one of the most important things.

“This is what being a cowboy is all about, for us to pass it on to (the youth) and hopefully they'll ranch, and hopefully their kids will ranch,” Lunak said.

Founded in 2003, the nonprofit organization that is the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame strives to preserve and pass forward the Montana cowboy way of life and to celebrate Montana’s Western heritage.

“The values, the honesty, integrity, loyalty, all those things are things that, you know, they're really what being a true cowboy is about,” Wilson said.

Here are the 2024 inductees:

District 1
Henry "Gary" Danelson, Scobey
David C. Funk, Frazer

District 2
Harold Lee Isaacs, Jordan
Donald Goodman "Don" Holt, Sidney

District 3
Wayne W. Morford, Miles City
World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Miles City

District 4
Leon LaSalle, Laredo
Clarence Basil Cuts The Rope, Hays

District 5
Alvin "Dutch" Lunak & Stuntmen of Blackfeet Country, Valier
Joseph Franklin "Joe" De Yong, Great Falls

District 6
Durl J. Gibbs, Buffalo
Donald Elton "Don" Abarr, Grass Range

District 7
Lynn "Jonnie" Jonckowski, Billings
Elmer E. "Slim" Kobold, Kirby

District 8
Lenore McKelvey Puhek, Helena
Paul B. Hart, Helena

District 9
Delbert & Janice (Gee) High, Bozeman
Dr. Raymond P. "Ray" Ansotegui, Livingston

District 10
Betty Mae Wemple Schall, Arlee
Alvin Garth "Al" Merritt, Pablo

District 11
Paul Zarzyski, Missoula
William E. "Bill" Mytty, Lolo

District 12
Walter Elroy "Walt" Shaw, Cardwell
John William "Pat" McDonald, Philipsburg

For more information about the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and the inductees' stories, click here to visit the website.