My thinking when I decided to use part of my blog material to talk about VIP’s was to write about people who had, in some way, influenced my life in a positive way. Looking back there’s been quite a few that are definitely worth mentioning; people who made my life richer and people who made life a lot more interesting. If you didn’t read my blog post, “VIP #1 – Booger Bryant”, you should.
To say that Sarge Cook was a good friend of mine, would totally sell it short; he was a bunch more like family than just a friend. I first met Sarge in 1979 at the Ft. Worth Stock Show Rodeo. I had gotten married in 1977 and just rodeoed minimally in ’77 and ’78, staying pretty close to home. I asked my brother, Monty Taylor, who was rodeoing extensively those years what were the rankest (a term used by pro bull riders to denote those that buck the most and are the hardest to ride) bulls out there in Professional Rodeo. He quickly answered, “# 124 of Bernis Johnson’s”. Meant nothing to me since I hadn’t seen him buck. I hit the road in 1979 and the first time I saw #124 I was putting my bull rope on him in the short-go at Ft. Worth!
I rode #124 that night and won the short-go. I didn’t know it but I won the respect of this guy, Sarge Cook, who was Bernis Johnson’s lifelong friend and worked all of his rodeos. He was a mountain of a Man, 25 years older than me, and tougher’n a boot, that nobody messed with. We became friends, really good friends. Sarge believed in me; don’t know why….he just did. After my career was over in 1981 Sarge and I kept in touch. We’d have long phone conversations every month or two. He always made me laugh.
After I came to the Lord in ’84 we often talked about it. He’d give me heck about being a preacher, all in good fun. I’d just tell him that I was ‘livin’ proof’ that the Lord could use anybody! I’d call him up and say, “I bet I’m the only preacher that’s called you today!” He’d laugh, cuss a little and reply, “Well, by God, you’re the only one that I’d answer if they did call!” We had several conversations about the Lord. Sarge was a believer, without a doubt. But he didn’t disclose that info to even those closest to him.
He had both knees replaced at one time and really had a hard time getting over it, but he did. I called him on his birthday and talked to him well over an hour. It was the next day that I got the call that he was sitting on his bed and just laid back and died. I couldn’t believe it, I was devastated. I ain’t embarrassed to say I shed quite a few tears that day.
Cody Custer and I drove to Ft. Worth where I did his funeral service in the old Cowtown Coliseum, a fitting place for his going away party. It was there that I got the opportunity to tell several hundred people about Sarge’s relationship with the Lord. You can go through life and meet a lot of people. You can even make a lot of great friends along the way. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a friend like Sarge Cook! I’m sure looking forward to seeing him again!