Inducted in 2013
“Buz Peth was the youngest of a family of athletically talented rodeo cowboys,” recalled Kittitas County cattleman and roper Sam Kayser in a recent interview, “but Buz took that natural athletic ability to the next level. He worked hard to master the techniques of roping and bulldogging, and he ranks among the greatest competitors in the history of Northwest rodeo.”
Dale “Buz” Peth was born into a ranch and rodeo family near Bow, Washington, in 1937. His father John was a rodeo stock contractor, brother Wick became an acclaimed bullfighting clown, and brother Jerry won the 1959 Ellensburg Steer Wrestling title.
Buz recalls, “I used to fool around after school, having little rodeos at the ranch and just fell into riding and roping.” At 5’ 7” and 145-pounds, the Burlington High School State Wrestling Champion possessed the coordination and upper body strength for professional rodeo steer wrestling and calf roping, his signature events. Peth joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association (today’s PRCA) in the mid-1960s and began winning at rodeos throughout the region.
Kayser, a former timed-event champion himself, stresses Peth’s importance in Northwest rodeo: “In the 1960s and 70s, Buz won calf roping, bulldogging, and All-Around titles at virtually every PRCA rodeo in Oregon and Washington—including Walla Walla, Kennewick, Lewiston, St. Paul (OR), Joseph (OR), and Omak, where he won the Leo Moomaw All-Around Trophy twice.” Peth did the same across British Columbia, winning calf roping and bulldogging championships in Kamloops, Williams Lake, Cloverdale, Falkland, Ashcroft, and many more. “Buz was hardnosed,” said Kayser of the cowboy’s reputation for toughness. “Pain was not an option for Buz.”
Buz Peth’s peak year, 1969, brought him $16,000 in winnings and a calf roping berth at the 1969 National Finals Rodeos in Oklahoma City. In 1977, well into the second decade of his professional career, Peth won the first Columbia River Circuit Finals All-Around Championship.
The Ellensburg Rodeo was a memorable place in Buz Peth’s career. He mugged for Ellensburg All-Around Champion Smoky Kayser (Sam’s father and a 1997 ERHOF Inductee), winning the Wild Cow Milking in 1966. In 1969 and 1972, Peth won the Calf Roping and Wild Cow Milking contests, claiming two coveted Ellensburg Rodeo All-Around Cowboy titles and joining an elite group of cowboy competitors.
During the mid-1980s, Buz Peth began to cut back on his rodeos. “I decided I’d keep doing it, but mostly for fun,” he recalled, as he devoted most of his time to working his family’s 600-acre lower Skagit River Valley ranch. The Peths raised peas, cattle, and horses, and Buz competed in about 25 rodeos a year. He later joined the Senior ProRodeo Circuit and remained a regular at Northwest ropings, including Ellensburg’s WestStar Ranch.
Buz and Gail Peth now live in Odessa, Washington.