Candi B. Cowden was born to William Thomas Cowden and Freda Walker Cowden in 1952 in Midland, TX. Billy Tom Cowden, as he was known, was the son of Gilbert Hamby Cowden and was born in El Paso, TX. Freda Walker Cowden was born in Meadow, TX where she grew up on her father Leo Overton Walker’s farm and Hereford ranch near Spur, TX where the White River Dam was built. Freda’s mother Alleta Editha White was born in Eastland, TX and raised there before moving to Meadow in 1920. Freda went to teaching school in Rankin, TX and then on to Crane, TX where she met Billy Tom Cowden and began their family that produced Candi and her sister Terre, now deceased.
Candi’s great grandfather was William Henry Cowden, one of ten children of one of the two patriarchs of the early Cowdens in West Texas, William Hamby Cowden. He and his brother, George Franklin Cowden arrived in West Texas in 1883 after settling earlier on the then western wilderness frontier of Palo Pinto County. They both had seen service under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War, fighting with Robert E. Lee at Vera Cruz.
The spirit of her forbearers resides in Candi as demonstrated in her reluctance to allow her heritage to be forgotten. The ranch she operates today has seen its share of hardships in extended drought and fires, of both structure and grass. Oil companies holding early leases by marginal economic production and not showing their desire to protect the environment are a constant battle for her.
Early childhood memories of working cattle in the summers with her maternal grandfather on the Salt Fork of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River and riding the White River and gathering wild plums and exploring Indian caves along the river. She remembers Nacho, a worker who lived in an old Indian cave, and hearing him tell of the cattle drives, fighting Indians, and making a life on the frontier.
In 1982 Candi resigned from her position as Tennis Coach, and Men’s and Women’s Badminton Coach at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her dad’s failing health and need for some help steered her home. She immediately immersed herself into improving the ranch that she had fond memories of. Candi’s strong independent spirit led her to question a lot of the “old cowboy ways”. What she found were ways of getting the jobs done by adapting the methods she used to accomplish the needs she had. Her love for horses is immense and all of her ranch work is done horseback. She noted “I get kind of cranky if I don’t get horseback”. She raises horses with proper confirmation, disposition, and athleticism that she can drag calves, carry a flag in an arena, cut in the NCHA, or compete in a ranch rodeo competition. Her skills and successes with horses and cattle she humbly attributes to her friendship with the late Ray Hunt, who she spent a great deal of time with in Australia several years ago and her work with stockman her friend Bud Williams. Her philosophy of life is to live, act, and work with natures truths, and have relationships with animals and people that are based on respect. She strives to increase her knowledge to be able to leave her land better than she found it, and hopes to inspire upcoming generations to develop similar philosophies.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our 2017 Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor recipient Candi Cowden.