A conversation with the Round-Up’s tireless helper

Bob Stangier has been a volunteering for the Pendleton Round-Up for roughly 80 years.

A steady but relentless workforce brings the Round-Up into fruition each year. Some have worked the event for a few years, whereas others have been at it for decades.

Bob Stangier has been volunteering with the Round-Up for around 80 years.

Stangier, 91, looks back on his time with Pendleton’s largest annual event with a mix of wit and sarcasm. He’s a jovial man with smooth, silver-white hair combed back into a parted coif. The Round-Up lifer started in 1935, and he still comes back to help every year.

Why?

“Habit,” he offered. His father pushed him to volunteer as a kid, and the routine seems to have stuck.

Buying back bottles was his first volunteer responsibility at the Round-Up. At 11 years old, Stangier, whose father worked as a director, would pay people a penny apiece for empty pop and beer bottles during the Round-Up, back when breweries in town needed to reuse bottles to last the duration of the event, Stangier said. He playfully refers to himself then as a “grunt.” His parents, George and Maude, were ardent about their family’s participation in the event. “With my dad, I didn’t get a chance to not volunteer,” he said. “It was part of Pendleton, and we wanted it to be a success.”

It seems George made sure his son was volunteering behind the scenes well into adulthood. He bursts out, “I was married before I saw the Round-Up!”

Stangier stuck with the Round-Up until he was elected to the Board of Directors in 1950. Pendleton was a “tight-knit” community then, so directors of that board, in which the average age was around 60 to 70 years old, knew his mother and father and, Stangier adds jokingly, even his dog. Here he was, a 20-something among elders. “You can imagine the open arms they greeted me with,” he said.

And then there were the exhibitions during which Stangier had to saddle up and ride a horse. “I hate horses,” Stangier said. But one of the duties of the board was to ride in parades. “My heart was in my mouth from the moment I stepped into the saddle to the moment I stepped out,” he said.

Now, Stangier is a veteran in Round-Up circles. But that doesn’t mean he keeps up with the current board. He was invited to come to the Professional Bull Riders event in July, which the 2015 Happy Canyon and Round-Up Boards of Directors had attended, Stangier said. He said he didn’t know 10 percent of them.

“They all came up and called me Bob — and I was embarrassed as hell,” he laughed.

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