Retired judge  presides over Westward Ho! Parade

Retired judge presides over Westward Ho! Parade

Dick Courson isn’t merely a long-time Pendleton Round-Up volunteer. The former Round-Up director and retired district court judge has left his mark on the annual event, said Billy Lorenzen, parade director. 

“He’s done so much for the event, it’s about time for him to be recognized,” Lorenzen said.

Courson, who recently turned 89, will serve as the grand marshal of the 2011 Westward Ho! Parade.

He and his wife, Coralee, have three children. Julie Courson was a Round-Up princess, and sons Rick and Jeff both participated in high school rodeo, with Rick going on to ride saddle bronc in a past Round-Up. 

Courson left high school in 1942 to serve in the Marine Corps. After discharge, he worked as a smoke jumper with the U.S. Forest Service. After challenging high school coursework, Courson studied pre-law at Willamette University and then attended Northwestern Law School. He practiced law in Portland for a few years before landing in Pendleton around 1957.

Courson initially thought his involvement with the Pendleton Round-Up would be a one-time thing. However, he quickly realized being a part of Round-Up became “a way of life.”

Returning to an early tradition, Courson helped resurrect the Round-Up Mounted Band. He helped arrange for the horses and Dick Herbig, a local music teacher, gathered players.  

The Mounted Band, which had faded away in favor of “canned music” over loudspeakers, returned in time for Round-Up’s 75th anniversary.

Since Courson was named grand marshal, he’s purchased a new hat, brushed the dirt off his saddle and polished his silver bit. 

Courson is anticipating the moments before the parade starts.

“The adrenaline just gets to going,” he said. “I don’t know why it does, but it just does.”

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