Sedgwick Haynes, Co-General Manager of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo

Celebrating a Great Man

A sad day for the Rodeo world. Today, Friday, February 24; 2018 the rodeo world and specifically the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has lost a world class cowboy, manager, teacher and mentor.

 Sedgwick Haynes, Co-General Manager of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo rode into the Sunset and is now resting in the arms of Jesus.

 While our hearts are heavy, we find comfort and peace in knowing he is at peace and free of all pain. We rejoice and celebrate a life well lived.

Sedgwick Haynes was born in Houston, Texas on September 7, 1954 to Robert C. and Dorothy R. Haynes. During his senior year at Booker T. Washington High School he was offered a full golf scholarship and headed off to Texas Southern University in the fall, but it was soon thereafter that his story took a turn and he was faced with the decision that would change his path.

Sedgwick’s family had no interest or understanding about rodeo, so it was his neighbor Mr. Alvin Penrice, a calf roper who took Sedgwick to his very first Rodeo. Another neighbor, Mr. Eugene Tucker had horses and allowed Sedgwick to ride, it was then that Sedgwick made the decision to trade in his golf clubs and balls for a rope and a pigging string. His rodeo journey begun!

With no one in his family interested in his horse dreams, Sedgwick was forced to lean on others for guidance, support and training in his new found passion. He was blessed to gain knowledge from a host of good people who loved the rodeo. Many, like Albert Barrelman, Rufus Green Sr., Walter and Bonnie Beaver, Calvin Greely, Jr., Nelson Jackson, Jim Richards, Sr., Caston Richard, Sr., Willie Roy Carr and a host of others went on to become his mentors.

Within a short time, Sedgwick was traveling to rodeos all over the United States competing in the Calf Roping and Steer Wrestling events. This was no easy task being a single father of two boys that loved to eat. Sedgwick knew that without the help of so many that opened their doors to welcome his small family in for a meal, a shower, or a place to lay their heads, they would not have survived.

One day along the way he entered a rodeo in Gary, Indiana promoted by Theryl Latting. It was there that Lu Vason walked up to Sedgwick, introduced himself, and shared his vision and desire to promote African American Rodeos in Denver, Houston, and many other large metropolitan cities. As Sedgwick laughed at Lu out loud, while on the inside wondering, “How is this man with the pony tail and a wild red, white, and blue “get-up” going to take a African American rodeo all over the country?” It was not long after that Lu Vason managed to successfully promote the first black rodeo in Denver, CO in 1984.

Soon after the inaugural event in Denver, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo was at Bear Creek Park in Houston, and that is where Sedgwick’s journey with the BPIR began. Sedgwick developed a passion, like Lu’s vision to educate and promote African American rodeos and to give African American cowboys and cowgirls a place to perform.

Sedgwick’s passion was Rodeo! Did I say RODEO?  He would eat, sleep and dream of rodeo and  even after being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Cancer approximately 4.5 years ago and the death of his son approximately 4 years ago, he continued to do his best to teach his family and others the rodeo method, which made them all successful.

Sedgwick was not a quitter. He never gave up as he fought cancer. He didn’t care about the fight because he was going to rodeo. It didn’t matter whether it was near or far, he was there.

Sedgwick found great joy in sitting around reminiscing about all of the people whom he met or got to know over the years through his BPIR life. He was most proud of knowing that he had helped so many people. Sedgwick had a big heart and I will always gratefully remember his serious nature and desire to always be better.  He was a man of his opinions and one might say a bit stubborn (smile). He was humble and attributed his success to his great support team, which included his loving wife, Stephanie of 26 years, his children; Reuben Haynes, Jermaine Walker, Timothy Haynes and Kanesha Jackson as well as his loving grand kids.

I will miss his passion and dedication. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo will miss his gentle force yet powerful presence.

Sedgwick, if there is any good in you leaving us, it is you knowing that we all loved you. I am especially glad that I got to tell you that before you left us.

Rest in peace and tell Rufus and Lu we said hello. I am sure the three of you are up there planning a rodeo and worrying about us.  Please don’t worry because we will look up and always see you and know that we better be on our A game.

Love you and thank you for everything you did for me personally and for the BPIR rodeo family near and far.

Valeria Howard-Cunningham