The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame (MCHF) and Western Heritage Center (WHC) have announced the newest inductees into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, including retired Montana Western rodeo coach, Iola ‘Olie’ Else.
The MCHF and WHC was founded in 2003 by the Montana State Legislature as a nonprofit organization. The goal of the organization is to preserve and pass forward the Montana cowboy way of life, the state’s American Indian cultures, and the collective Montana Western Heritage.
Else was born in Salmon, Idaho and grew up in Tendoy where her parents ran the Tendoy Store. She attended school there through sixth grade and then went to Leadore for junior high and high school. Else graduated from Leadore High School in 1969 and went to Western Montana College (now the University of Montana Western) that fall. She competed in barrel racing, breakaway, team roping, and goat tying. She was Homecoming Queen in 1971, runner up for Miss Western in 1971, and Miss Rodeo Idaho in 1973, going on to compete for Miss Rodeo America. She was a member of the Central Board and student government, Spurs (a service organization), a Resident Assistant and manned the college switchboard.
Else has been the faculty advisor for Montana Western Rodeo and started as head coach in 1994. During her tenure as coach, Else cultivated several top notch rodeo competitors including seven National College Finals Champions and one National Finals Rodeo Champion. Rodeo Team members have held positions in national rodeo organizations and have received many awards including the Montana Western Women’s Team winning the Big Sky Region five years in a row from 1998-2002, and in 2000 UMW won nine of the 11 individual titles.
The 12th class of inductees were chosen by the MCHF and WHC from a selection of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their “notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana” from each of the 12 districts in the state.
“The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations,” said MCHF & WHC President Bill Galt in a recent press release. “Our volunteer trustees around Montana vote on nominations that come from the district in which they reside. This process gives the local communities a strong voice in who will represent them in the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.”
The inductees will be honored at the annual Circle the Wagons event in Great Falls, Mont., to be held February 7-8, 2020.
To see the full list of the MCHF 2019 inductees, please visit http://montanacowboyfame.org/index.html.