This year’s Memorial Night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will pay tribute to a number of men and women who excelled in and out of the arena. Chief among them will be ProRodeo Hall of Famer and three-time World Champion All-Around Cowboy Lewis Feild, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Feb. 15.
The Thomas & Mack Center has hosted the world’s richest rodeo since its move to Las Vegas in 1985, the year Feild won the first of his three consecutive gold buckles. The building was always sacred to Feild, and his memory and legacy are now what those who knew and loved him best hold dear. Feild, who also won bareback riding championships in 1985 and 1986, was one of the most respected and revered cowboys in the history of the sport, and his passing left the rodeo world with a heavy heart.
“He was the most humble guy you could ever meet in your life,” says his four-time world champion son, Kaycee. “He was a very unselfish person and never thought about himself. It was an honor to have him as a father, and he was my best friend.”
Born on Oct. 28, 1956, to Keith and True Feild of Peoa, Utah, Lewis developed into a top-notch cowboy as a youth.
“When he was going to college, I was coaching at the College of Southern Idaho,” ProRodeo Hall of Famer and Wrangler NFR General Manager Shawn Davis says. “He was just a little kid, and the only person who had a sorrier looking saddle than him was me. I had some kids who were pretty talented kids, and Lewis could beat them.”
Davis even paid some of Feild’s entry fees during his early professional career, and Feild made his mentor proud by winning the PRCA Rookie of the Year Award in 1980. Feild qualified for his first Wrangler NFR in 1981 in the bareback riding and would finish with more than a dozen career qualifications in bareback and saddle bronc riding.
He was a three-time Linderman Award winner (1981, 1988, and 1991) and became the first roughstock cowboy to eclipse the $1 million mark in career earnings in 1990. After retiring, Feild would go on to successful careers in other aspects of rodeo, working as a pick-up man at the 2004 Wrangler NFR and coaching college rodeo at his alma mater. And he taught his son a great deal about being a man and a champion.
“In the last little while when he was sick, he made it clear to us kids what was important in life, and that’s friends and family,” Kaycee says. “He never said, ‘Why me? This sucks,’ or anything like that and just handled it like a champion. When he saw us kids or his grandkids, it put a smile on his face.”
Feild is survived by his wife, Veronica, sons, Shad and Kaycee, daughter, Maclee, and seven grandchildren. His memory will live on through them and others who adored him.
He once said, “Some day, when rodeo people look back at what I’ve done, I’d like them to say these things: That I rode tough; that I could ride with pain and courage; and that I was a fierce competitor in the arena, but a quiet, respectable man outside the gate. I just want to be remembered as a cowboy. That probably says it all.”
It sure does.