MEET THE 2021 TCR HOSTESS
Photo by Bearden Photography
BY CAITLIN RICHARDS
Since 1932, there has been a Texas Cowboy Reunion Hostess to welcome visitors to the TCR with the exception of 1943 due to World War II and now 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The longstanding tradition continues in 2021 with Cindy Ford being named the 88th TCR Hostess at the TCR Hostess Reveal Luncheon on Saturday, May 29. Besides welcoming visitors to the TCR, Cindy will host the barrel racers – known back then as sponsors – competing at the TCR.
Historically, the Hostess did everything from making room and board arrangements to hosting a formal ball and breakfast for the barrel racers. Today, the Hostess prepares a nice lunch for the barrel racers riding slack, since most of them don’t stay through the four days of the TCR anymore.
Leading up to the TCR, members of the community will host various parties to honor the Hostess, making for a fun-filled month of June for the Hostess and the town of Stamford. During the TCR, she will be introduced at each rodeo performance and ride in the Grand Parade.
Growing up in the Lueders-Avoca area, Cindy remembers what a treat it was to come to Stamford to participate in all of the TCR festivities. Her parents Bill and Jeannie Goss would bring Cindy and her siblings to town early to get a good parking spot saved for the parade and arrive early to the rodeo grounds to get a good seat on “the hill” for the rodeo performance.
Cindy and her husband, Rex Ford, have been active with the TCR for a number of years. Rex serves on the TCR board of directors and helps run slack for the rodeo contestants throughout the TCR. However, Cindy’s fondest memories of the TCR revolve around her children and grandchildren.
Cindy and Rex have three daughters, who have blessed them with three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren – Tiffany and KC Gilchrest, children Shelby Ford and Hannah Gilchrest, Tara and Tanner Rollins, children Hattie and Halten, Tristan and Cody Lawson, children Breck, Charli Kate, and Dalli.
Their middle daughter, Tara, made her first barrel racing debut at the age of 4 at the TCR, competed in the Sponsor’s Barrel Race for several years, and even served as the TCR Sponsor in 2002. Annette Wilson served as the Hostess in 2002 alongside Tara, and this year Cindy will get to serve alongside Annette Wilson’s granddaughter, Samantha Wilson, who is the 2021 TCR Sponsor.
Cindy and Rex’s grandchildren have ridden in the parade and the grand entry for a number of years thanks to their Pa, Rex, who gets the horses ready every night. Breck competed in the Cody Mathis Memorial Steer Riding event for several years and even won a buckle. Charli Kate has also competed in the slack barrel racing and plans to do so again this year. Over the years, the Ford Family has made lots of cherished and fun memories at the TCR. It is always a great time for them to gather together, and this year will be extra special.
Cindy never imagined she would be selected to serve as the Hostess, and is humbled and honored to have been selected. For years, Cindy has celebrated past hostesses and championed the Stamford community. This year she will be celebrated and championed for all she has given to Stamford.
At the age of 16, Cindy was hired by longtime Stamford Memorial Hospital Director of Nurses Bobbie Connally to work as a nurse’s aide. Thus, beginning her love for healthcare. Cindy worked in that role until she graduated from high school and then went to Abilene Christian University to pursue a career in physical therapy.
While there, she realized her heart was in nursing and decided to pursue a nursing career. She enrolled in the Mary Meek School of Nursing – now the Patty Hanks School of Nursing – and graduated in 1981. Cindy and Rex were married in June of 1980 and moved to Stamford from Lueders in 1987 prior to their oldest daughter Tiffany starting kindergarten.
Cindy returned to Stamford Memorial Hospital to work as a charge nurse until 1992 when she started with the Stamford Independent School District as a school nurse. After 29 years, Cindy still loves her job. She continues to serve in the position as a semi-retired, full-time nurse. Serving the children of the Stamford community and watching them grow up has been one of her biggest blessings.
Cindy has also served as an officer for the Region 14 Texas School Nurse Organization and is a member of the Texas School Nurse Organization and the National Association of School Nurses. When she isn’t serving as a nurse or chasing her grandkids, Cindy can be found behind the camera capturing Stamford Bulldog sporting events or special memories of family and friends. She is also a member of the Abilene Photographer’s Guild.
Cindy’s service to the Stamford community also includes serving as a past member of the Pierian Club and being a Bible class teacher at the Orient St. Church of Christ. One of Cindy’s favorite places to be is on the lake with her family. She is a fantastic water skier and tube puller for her grandkids.
This summer Cindy may have a little less time on the water, but it’s safe to say she will be having just as much fun being celebrated and welcoming visitors to the TCR. As Hostess, Cindy is looking forward to promoting the Stamford community and the historical TCR to first-time visitors and those who are coming back home.
For the community of Stamford, the TCR is like a family reunion. With a generous heart and a championing spirit, Cindy is the right one to welcome everyone back home this year.