BURK, CLYDE (1913–1945).
Rodeo professional Clyde Burk was born in Comanche, Oklahoma, on June 14, 1913, the oldest son of Barney and Velma Folsom Burk, who were farmers in Stephens County. The senior Burks died circa 1931, leaving their eldest son to care for four younger siblings. Without much education, he turned to the sport of rodeo to earn a living.
Clyde Burk was a tie-down calf roper. He first competed in local rodeos and moved into the larger professional circuit. Mentored by rodeo veteran Hugh Bennett, he competed at Madison Square Garden in 1936. In that year he captured the "world championship" in calf roping. Nicknamed "Sagey," he won the world title again in 1938, 1942, and 1944. His brothers Dee and Jiggs were also well respected rodeo contestants. In January 22, 1945, at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, Clyde Burk sustained a fatal head injury. He was "hazing" for a contestant in the steer-wrestling event, and his horse stumbled and rolled on him.
Clyde Burk was an early member of the Cowboy Turtles Association, formed in 1936, and its successor, the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA). He married Kathryn Brooks in 1937, and their union produced one son. After he died, in 1947 Comanche, Oklahoma, began hosting the annual Clyde Burk Memorial Rodeo. The meet was sanctioned by the RCA, and proceeds helped build Clyde Burk Memorial Arena. The rodeo lasted for several years and was revived in the 1960s through 1970s. Burk was inducted into Rodeo Historical Society's Rodeo Hall of Fame (1966, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum) and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (1979).
"Clyde Burk," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Denver (Colorado) Post, 22 January 1945.
Willard Porter, Who's Who in Rodeo (Oklahoma City: Powder River Book Co., 1982).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, "Burk, Clyde," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=BU023.
© Oklahoma Historical Society.