Tom Campbell, the infamous storyteller and ex-rodeo cowboy who still lives on his ranch above the John Day River between Monument and Kimberly, is looking forward to yet another Pendleton Round-Up. He attended the 2011 Round-Up in style as the guest of Glen and Joyce Rohde of Echo.

Campbell is a member of the board of the electric co-op in Monument and attends the annual conference. Rohde, a member of the board at Umatilla Electric Cooperative, offered up a Round-Up package and Campbell bought it. “We attended in style,” Campbell said. “First class in every way.” He added that it was a lot different than the way he attended when he was a competitor or was just coming as a hand.

Campbell, who makes annual appearances to tell stories in Condon and Heppner, is going strong at age 87. He just got back from a 3,000 mile trip through Yellowstone and into the Black Hills. His wife, Debbie, who used to run the Kimberly Store and has retired as postmistress in Kimberly, made the trip with him.

During my tenure at the East Oregonian, Campbell became the focus of several stories, including the time he had me lead the annual Spray Rodeo Parade. I dashed through town in a matter of seconds, barely having time to wave in the way you are supposed to. I was more concerned about saving my life. By the time Tom caught up with me, he said, “I figured since you were a rancher, you probably had a little more experience on horses.” I reminded him that I had more experience on four-wheelers. “I should admit,” he added, “that horse you rode has never been to town.”

I caught up with Tom on Monday, Aug. 20, when we were on our way from our Three-Mile Schoolhouse, west of Ritter en route to Sutherlin. There is no short route, but we turned west at Long Creek toward Monument and passed by Tom’s ranch. We were lucky he was home.

— George Murdock

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