Durie had way with horses, neckties

By: Terri Jo Ryan, Waco Tribune-Herald

July 31, 2006

Some men leave money in their wills, while others leave nothing but memories.

Roy Durie, of Waco, left his dutiful daughter, Mary Nell SoRelle, some curious keepsakes when he died in 1988: his amputated neckties. Dozens of them. And she is ready now to pass them on for historical safe-keeping.

She donated half to the Mayborn Museum Complex, she said, and half to the Texas Collection at Baylor University.

"I wanted them to go someplace where they could be preserved, and it gets them out of my attic," SoRelle said.

Sarah Levine, director of marketing for the Mayborn Museum Complex, said the piles of polyester are not an item the museum normally would seek.

"But we already have a number of Roy Durie items, and this completes the story about him. They are interesting and unusual, and it enhances what we have collected," Levine said.

The Mayborn's focus is on the natural science and cultural history of Central Texas, Levine added.

Durie, a grandson of Bosque County Norwegian pioneer Ole Canuteson, was born May 7, 1897, in Waco. He attended Brook Avenue School as a lad, and served in the U.S. Army during World War I.

He married Waco native Edith Kleypas in 1921 — and their marriage lasted more than 50 years. She died on March 4, 1973, at age 81.

He worked some 52 years at the Waco News Tribune and Times-Herald, retiring in 1964 as shop foreman of the stereotype (plate-making) department. He also was the founder and first president of the newspaper's credit union.

But he was better known around town for his love of horses, his daughter said.

He was a co-founder of the Waco Longhorn Club, which was established in October 1941 as a nonprofit roping and riding club — the first of its kind in the United States, his daughter said. Durie was president of the organization 14 times.

The club, whose name was chosen as a reflection of its Western heritage, conducted a horse show each Labor Day weekend at the Heart O' Texas Fairgrounds and Coliseum, drawing close to 2,000 spectators and dozens of riders.

For a time, she recalled, her father even hosted the "Durie Horse Corral," "the only radio rodeo horse program in the world." One summer, he was the announcer for some 25 local horse shows.

Durie had way with horses, neckties

In a 1987 interview with the Tribune-Herald, Durie recalled that he rode horses from 1906 until 1983, when he had to give up the pleasure because of Parkinson's disease.

By the time of his death in 1988, Durie had attended the Fort Worth Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show for 73 consecutive years. Organizers of that event even had a Roy Durie Waco Day in his honor.

SoRelle said her dad was a community booster of the old school.

Besides his equestrian endeavors, he also was a charter member of the Waco Boys Club and a volunteer for more than 25 years with the Camp Fire Girls.

And all through the years, she said, he was recognizable around town for wearing his stubby neckties. He lopped the tails off standard neckwear, she said, because "it just bothered him. But it became his trademark."

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