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Cowgirl Hall of Fame Announces New Inductees

Deborah Copenhaver Fellows

Deborah Copenhaver Fellows

From Press Release

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is proud to announce Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, Kay Whittaker Young, Mary Jane Colter and Cornelia “Ninia” Wadsworth Ritche as inductees to the Hall of Fame for 2009. Laura W. Bush will receive the Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award. All five women will be honored during the 34th Annual Induction Luncheon Ceremony on October 16, 2009 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring and celebrating women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. It is the legacy of legends.

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to preserve the history and highlight the impact of western women living roughly from the mid-1800s to the present: the artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of land and livestock), trailblazers and pioneers. Today, there are 190 extraordinary women who have been inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame since 1975.

The Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award, established in 1999, is awarded to an individual who has pioneered new approaches to public service in the areas of business, law, sports, the arts or humanitarian causes. This award recognizes the difficulty in creating new avenues of service, while applauding the determination and trailblazing efforts of those who have successfully created programs. Previous award recipients include philanthropist, Nancy Lee Bass; second lady of the United States and author, Lynne Cheney; and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and diplomat, Anne Armstrong.

About the Inductees

Deborah Copenhaver Fellows (pictured above) was ranch-raised in northern Idaho and grew up with a passion for horses and an avid interest in art. Both her father and brother won World Championships in professional rodeo, and Deborah herself traveled the professional circuit as a barrel racer. She won the title of Miss Rodeo Washington and runner-up for Miss Rodeo America.

Fellows earned her degree in Fine Arts and paid her way through professional education and independent studies in Italy where she learned the techniques of the European Masters.

Kay Whittaker Young

Kay Whittaker Young

In the post-Vietnam period, Deborah won competitions to create veteran memorials including the Inland Northwest Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montana State Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington State Korean Memorial. Other monuments include Bing Crosby, Benny Binion, James Irvine, Henry Kaiser, and Boy Scouts of America as well as famous horse portraiture. She was elected to lifetime membership in the National Sculpture Society in 2009.

Fellows has long been inspired by pioneer women and ranch figures and has made important statements in bronze sculpture about the unspoken heroes, the women of the West.

Kay Whittaker Young has been riding her entire life, and began competing at the professional level at age 12. A member of several organizations, Young has sat on the board of Barrel Futurities of America since the inception of the organization. Additionally, Young served as Vice President and President of the GRA/WPRA. As president she promoted barrel racing to rodeo committees and sought recognition for it as a standard event and lobbied for increased purses.

Mary Jane Colter

Mary Jane Colter

Young made seven trips to the National Finals Rodeo and competed on five horses at the finals. She has held barrel racing clinics throughout the United States and Brazil. Annually, Young works with and trains more than 75 horses on her ranch in Overbrook, Oklahoma. A true testament to Young’s dedication, she insists on riding each horse in every clinic she hosts. In the barrel racing industry, she is known not only for her countless awards and titles, but also for her passion of the sport, her patience in training, and her role as a mentor to many women.

Mary Jane Colter, (1869-1958) one of the few female architects of her era, has eleven buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and five of these buildings have been designated National Historic Landmarks. Known for creating structures that were in harmony with the natural environment, she developed a style now referred to as “National Park Service Rustic,” which does not interfere with, or interrupt the natural scene.

In her teenage years, after the passing of her father, she went to design school in San Francisco. Upon graduation, she began a fifteen year career as an art teacher at Mechanic Arts High School in Minnesota. In the summer of 1902, after expressing an interest in working for the Harvey Company (of the famous Harvey Houses) she was contacted to work as decorator for her first Harvey Company project. This began her long association with the company as designer and architect. For the next four decades, working in often rugged conditions, Colter completed more than 20 projects for Fred Harvey including a series of landmark hotels and commercial lodges throughout the southwest.

Cornelia “Ninia” Wadsworth Ritchie

Cornelia “Ninia” Wadsworth Ritchie

Cornelia “Ninia” Wadsworth Ritchie is the 4th generation owner of the JA Ranch, the oldest ranch established in the Texas Panhandle, and one still in the hands of the heirs of one of the original founders. Named for her great-grandmother, Ritchie is carrying on the tradition of Cornelia Adair, who is celebrated for the passionate care she took of the ranch. Cornelia and her husband, John Adair, partnered in business with the legendary cattleman, Charles Goodnight. Together, in 1876, they formed the JA Ranch using John Adair’s initials as the brand.

Ritchie’s approach to ranch management centers on integrity and sustainable success. An active part of the management team, she lives at the ranch headquarters at Palo Duro, and is dedicated to maintaining the 130 years family history of preserving the land and improving the livestock. Ritchie is a true steward of the land; in 1999, she placed the entire JA Ranch in Colorado under a conservation easement. Her son, Andrew Montgomery Bivins is the 5th generation of this family to actively carry on these traditions.

Laura W. Bush

Laura W. Bush

Laura W. Bush is the 2009 recipient of the Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award for decades-long service in the area of literacy. While serving as first lady of Texas from 1995 – 2000, she implemented several pioneering initiatives: Take Time For Kids, an awareness campaign to educate parents and caregivers on parenting; family literacy, through cooperation with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, she urged Texas communities to establish family literacy programs; Reach Out and Read, a pediatric reading program; and Ready to Read, an early childhood educational program. Additionally, she raised funds for public libraries through her establishment of the Texas Book Festival and established the First Lady’s Family Literacy Initiative, which encouraged families to read together. One of the most popular first ladies, Laura Bush was involved in topics of both national and global concern during her tenure as first lady from 2001-2009. In September 2001, she joined the Library of Congress to launch the first National Book Festival. The Festival has grown each year, drawing more than 120,000 book-lovers from across the nation to Washington, D.C. in 2008. In 2006, Bush hosted leaders from around the world for the White House Conference on Advancing Global Literacy, showcasing successful, culturally aware literacy programs from a diversity of countries. Her leadership of this effort led to her current role as Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade.

About the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage and a pioneering spirit. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission is $8 for adults ages 13 and up and $7 for children ages 3 to 12 and senior citizens. Group rates and docent tours are available. For more information please call (817) 336-4475 or (800) 476-FAME, or visit www.cowgirl.net .

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  1. […] The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is proud to announce Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, Kay Whittaker Young, Mary Jane Colter and Cornelia “Ninia” Wadsworth Ritche as inductees to the Hall of Fame for 2009. Laura W. Bush will receive the Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award. All five women will be honored during the 34th Annual Induction Luncheon Ceremony on October 16, 2009 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas…(read more) […]