my heroes have always been cowboys, but…

The eyes of Texas are upon a real cowboy, his family, his friends and classmates today as we say farewell to one of our own. Doyle Danford passed away yesterday following complications from surgery he had several weeks ago. Doyle was a special friend of mine in the eighth grade when I was the new girl in Brazoria, Texas, the daughter of the new principal everyone was wondering about.  My classmate Doyle, his brother Neal, his younger sister Virginia lived down the short street from our house and the brothers regularly rode by on their horses. Soon the shy quiet Doyle reluctantly answered my plea for a ride with him. We rode many Sunday afternoons after church. The new girl in town had a real friend whose friendship remained for the next fifty years.

My heroes have always been cowboys like Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and Sheriff Matt Dillon. I loved the good guys back in the days when they were easy to identify.   Brave men who stood tall against  villains with black mustaches curling oddly around snarling lips – those were the best. I wanted to be one of those good guys.

Cowboys, on the other hand, rode beautiful horses, wore boots with their jeans or buckskin pants and had great wide-brimmed hats with no worries about kryptonite.   Their pretty girlfriends knew who they were and were prepared to wait for them while they fought their battles in the dusty streets or the sage covered hills. They always won because they could outdraw or outsmart their enemies. When we moved to Brazoria, I was thrilled a couple of cowboys rode past our house every weekend.

Doyle was also my first real date which I had at the age of thirteen; that first date represented an age of enlightenment doubtless lost on him but profound for me. I found the girl sitting on the other side of me at the eighth grade Valentine’s banquet more fascinating than the young cowboy with the crewcut sitting on my right. Doyle was my good friend, but he wasn’t my boyfriend – not really.

Doyle married his beautiful high school sweet heart Sharon and remained in Brazoria with her and their large family until his death yesterday. He did, however, put his beloved horses in a trailer to follow the rodeo circuits around the southwest for many years to win calf roping competitions while he worked to build a successful business for his family. Doyle Danford was the only real cowboy I ever knew in my life; I mourn his loss on several levels today including a part of my youth gone with him. Those days, those places, those people belong to a young girl who was happy to find a lifelong friend.

We’re really just passing through on a journey from here to there. I haven’t quite made it to “there” yet, but Doyle made it to “there” yesterday. His legacy is a family life well lived plus an empty saddle that will pass to a new generation. Rest in peace, my friend.


Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.







About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to my heroes have always been cowboys, but…

  1. M.B. Henry says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    RIP to your friend Doyle. He must have been special to be special to you!


  3. Susanne says:

    A real cowboy and a real friend lovingly portrayed. He was as lucky to have you as you were him. A terrible loss, Sheila and my thoughts are with you. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How lucky to have known a real, live cowboy.

    Liked by 1 person

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