Pete Bonds was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1952 to parents P. R. “Bob” and Betty Hollaway Bonds. Bob Bonds had been born in Nocona, Texas in 1891 and was raised on his family’s farm. Betty Bonds was born in Mannsville, Oklahoma Territory in 1907. Pete’s grandfather on his dad’s side was born on the Georgia/Alabama border. He had moved to Texas after living in Arizona as a surveyor and chasing Geronimo. His grandparents on his mother’s side are believed to have come to Oklahoma Territory in the late 1880’s, early 1900’s. Parents Bob and Betty lived most of their adult lives based in Fort Worth, Texas beginning in the late 1920’s.
Pete and his one brother grew up on Bonds Ranch in Tarrant County, Texas. Pete was only two years old when his dad Bob died in 1954. Pete looks back fondly on afternoons spent with Owen (Big Pete) Burnett, the Bonds Ranch foreman. The cousin of Burk Burnett would tell Pete stories on the porch of the foreman’s house while watching the sun set after a long day’s work. Young Pete says one of his worst memories of growing up was Big Pete not having air conditioning in his house. His best lessons learned as a youngster came from learning how to handle horses, cattle, and men.
Pete met his wife Jo on a blind date on Valentine’s Day while at TCU. They married in July of 1976. Jo comes from a family farm in Georgia. She and her sister currently manage that farm. The union was blessed with three children, all girls, Missy Bonds, Bonny Bonds Anderson, and April Bonds. All three girls are active ranchers in partners with dad, and in their own right. Missy and April work full time on Bonds Ranches and Bonnie and husband Clint Anderson have their own operations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado while raising their four Bonds grandchildren.
Pete graduated from the TCU Ranch Management program in 1973 and completed his business degree in 1975 and became general manager of the Bonds Ranch in 1976 at the age of 24, after being in the cow business since the age of 16 by buying a pen of cattle with a loan co-signed by his mother. He never wanted to be anything but a cowman, both cowboy and businessman. He has never been afraid of changes to the cow business and has adapted his operations to the vagaries of fluctuating markets, emerging technology, emerging international markets. The ranch is now qualified to export cattle to the European Union and Japan. A portion of the ranch herds are age and source verified and qualify for the USDA’s Non-Hormone Treated Cattle Program.
Pete has served the industry as a director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s Association since 1992 serving on many committees and recently finished a two year term as President of the organization. Pete was named the 2006 TCU Ranch Management Program Outstanding Alumnus and has served as the President of the program’s Alumni Association. Bonds Ranch was acknowledged in 1988 for their “Excellence in Grazing Management by the Society of Rangeland Management – Texas Section. Pete also rode the 1991 American Quarter Horse Association’s World Champion Team Penning horse, Concho Juan Vito. In honor of Bonds Ranch management practices, the ranch was honored with the Beef Stocker of the Year Award in 2011 from BEEF Magazine at the 2012 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention.
Besides his sizeable cow/calf operation their main business is turning out sale barn cattle on wheat or grass. The health of those types of cattle has gotten worse over the last 10 years, so they have to be horseback, prowling through them every day, doctoring the sicks, whether they rope and tie them down to doctor or pen and doctor. As he says, “we want a horse with a lot of cow, a good bit of speed, and the bottom to take a lot of riding”. His favorite cow horse, Charlie, was retired publicly at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Best of the West Ranch Rodeo in 2009 at the age of 30. He lived to age 32.
Pete says his greatest pleasure of working his ranches comes from “handling a set of ouchy cattle on a real good horse”. He wants his grandchildren to live their lives happy in their careers, whichever business or field they may choose. He believes the future of the cattle business is extremely bright because there is a lack of people staying in or going into the business which reduces the amount of competition.
The Haley Memorial Library is honored to have Pete Bonds join the ranks of the previous 72 men and women to receive the Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor. His dedication to the range cattle industry is much appreciated by his peers.