Cigars and tropical shirts, saucy dresses and flowers in the hair seemed to be the favored attire for hundreds of guests attending the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo NASA/Clear Creek/Friendswood Metro Go Texan annual casino night, themed “Hot Havana Nights.”

Partygoers enjoyed casino-style games, dancing and silent auctions.

This committee was able to award nine $20,000 scholarships to students in the Clear Creek and Freindswood school districts this year. That’s $180,000 in scholarships for area students!

Local restaurants provided fabulous food for the guests to sample. Among them were Robinette Catering, Fuzzies Tacos, Grazia’s, Franca’s Real Italian Restaurant, Kona Grill, The Rouxpour Restaurant & Bar and Red River Barbecue.

“A Listers” in the crowd were Greg and Kay Ellis, Jamie and Melis Sausser, Gene Hollier and Emmaline Dodd, Ruby Ashraf, Amy Burns, Marisa Hatton-Vannort, Becky and Neil Arunyon and Alan Rice.

The committee, in its 52nd year, lost one of their greatest historical icons, the founding member. Many of you knew Bill Bailey as The Voice of the rodeo, but most of you probably don’t know just how much he did for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

In 1965, the small community south of Houston known as the Bay Area was bustling with new growth. NASA was setting down roots there and thousands of families were moving in. What was then called the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition had been going strong for more than 30 years.

Several people including radio announcer Bill Bailey decided to start a Trail Ride associated with the live stock show.

“They called it the NASA Clear Lake Trail Riders,” June Rogers, who joined the committee in 1974, told me.

“The ride started at the old Galveston County Park (now known as Walter Hall Park) with horse riders and covered wagons. They did a circle ride and came back to the park for dinner and a dance. And then they did the ride again the next day.”

The committee also held the first style show that is now in its 52nd year and continues to be one of the largest social events and the biggest fundraisers of the year. Bill emceed that show for more than 40 years.

A lifetime vice president of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Gene Hollier, tells this story: “A young DJ named Milton Stanley applied for a job at KTHT in 1960 and they said they would hire him except for they had been heavily advertising a DJ that left after only two weeks.

“So if he took the job he had to use the name Bill Bailey and the rest is history.”

Truly! He made history. He went on to be a DJ for KIKK for many years. And is in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He started rodeoing first as a representative of the radio station by calling the prison rodeo in Huntsville. He began the HLSR subcommittee that turned into the NASA/Clear Creek/ Friendswood Metro Go Texan Committee.

The barbecue cook off that is now one of the largest in the world was his brain child. After his radio days, he became a constable for Precinct 8 and was elected to seven terms.

For more than 54 years Bill Bailey was a mainstay in volunteerism for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, most publicly as The Voice of the Rodeo.

And more privately as an example and mentor to thousands of volunteers and students involved in the show. Bill always wore a white Stetson, which proves heroes always wear the white hat. As the old song says “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey won’t you come home. Come on Home!” You will be missed.

Ange Mertens’ column, The A List, covers society and charity events in North Galveston County.

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