A crowd in Texas became a little cranky when Emporia rancher, author and poet Jim Hoy told them the popular Texas-themed ballad “Streets of Laredo” was written by a Kansan, written in the state of Kansas and originally was named “Cowboy’s Lament.”
On Friday night, Hoy faced a another crowd — this one friendlier — when the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas named him Kansan of the Year.
Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University for more than 18 years, received the award for Distinguished Kansan of the Year.
The Native Sons and Daughters also issued a citation for Distinguished Service to Washburn University for 150 years of education.
The awards were made at the Native Sons and Daughters annual Kansas Day gathering. Hoy, who taught at Emporia State University for 45 years before retiring in 2014, said education was his vocation, and horses and cattle are his avocation.
"The main reason I went into education is I lacked the entrepreneurial spirit and instincts of a rancher," Hoy said.
Just the same, Hoy, who also was chairman of the English department at Emporia State for 10 years, also has been inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Before the awards ceremony, Hoy, the story teller, told about Frank Maynard, who was 17 when he arrived in Kansas in 1870 and worked the next 10 years as a cowboy on ranches, drove cattle across the prairie, had encounters with Indians and irate homesteaders, and chased horse thieves.
Maynard also wrote his memoirs in 1886, penned poetry and wrote a few songs, including "Cowboy's Lament."
Hoy edited Maynard's memoirs and collected all his poems and songs, releasing it as a book, "Cowboy's Lament: a Life on the Open Range."
Hoy considers "Cowboy's Lament" the most significant of the 17 books he either has written, co-authored or edited.
Two other favorites are "Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie" and "The Cattle Guard," a volume devoted to the contraption that blocks cattle from exiting pastures. He has lived in the Flint Hills for most of his life.
Hoy holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Kansas State University, Emporia State University, and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Hoy's books also include coauthored "Vaqueros, Cowboys and Buckaroos," "Cowboys and Kansas: Stories from the Tallgrass Prairie," "Prairie Poetry: Cowboy Verse of Kansas," and two volumes called "Plains Folk."
In remarks during the banquet, Farley recalled his parents' hard work that aided him to get where he is today.
"Tonight I have the honor and privilege to receive this award, not because I'm smarter, not because I'm more deserving," Farley said. "I'm here because of education and my parents' sacrifice."
Farley, the first member in his extended family to graduate from college, said his parents had to quit school in the eighth grade because their fathers died. Yet they worked to make sure Farley and his four siblings got college educations, he said.
Attending the University of Oklahoma was overwhelming at times, Farley said, noting that more students lived in his residence hall than in his home town of Tipton, Okla. Farley earned undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, all from the University of Oklahoma.
Farley is a CPA and has been president and chairman of the board of several state and national professional organizations and has written books and articles in his field. Farley, WU president since 1997, said he is proud of Washburn's new master's degree programs, changes made in some undergraduate programs, bringing Washburn Tech into the Washburn family, and the addition of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic lab on the campus. Buildings constructed during his tenure include the KBI Forensic Science Center, Washburn Village, Living Learning Center, and the greatly expanded Morgan Hall and Stoffer Science Hall.
Lincoln Hall, a 350-student residence hall, is being built, and a new larger law school is planned.
Since Farley's arrival as president, the number of WU students has increased by 1,000 to 6,800 and he projects it will be 8,000 by 2022.