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Boots Reynolds, 1935-2013

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Boots Reynolds, 1935-2013

Roy “Boots” Reynolds


     A lot has been said about Boots Reynolds, but most of it can’t be printed.  One printable comment was made, however, by a friend who said, “He can buck a fella off harder with a paintbrush than any bronc I’ve seen!”  Probably because Boots had been that fella too many times.

    Western artist and cartoonist, Boots Reynolds, 78, peacefully headed for his last round-up from his home on July 12, 2013 after losing the final go-round with cancer.

    Boots was born Roy Reynolds, Jr. March 28, 1935 to Roy, Sr. and Fanny Reynolds in Vinita, Oklahoma.  He was raised by his father on the ranches in the Osage country of Oklahoma and was on, over, under, and around horses all his life.  His career began at the age of eight as a brush track jockey for his uncle by riding in matched horse races all over the state.  When he was 16 he graduated to the quarter horse race tracks of Riudoso and Raton, New Mexico.  Unfortunately, he had a growth spurt due to too many cheeseburgers and literally ate himself out of a job.  He then decided to travel and see more of the world and Uncle Sam gave him that opportunity for free with the Marine Corps.  He got to travel to Korea for two years and see what war was like.

   After returning to the states he ventured into rodeo while still at Camp Pendleton, Ca. and tried his luck at riding bareback broncs, calf roping and clowning.  Unfortunately, he took too many hard falls and won too seldom so it was on to ranching in Wyoming and then Texas.  Somehow in 1973 he ended up in north Idaho in St. Maries and while working for the Forest Service he met his wife, Becky.  They moved to Sandpoint in 1974 and have lived in Bonner county ever since.  The last 30 years they have resided on Trestle Creek Road near Hope.

   It was after moving here that Boots decided to become a full time artist/cartoonist.  He had been drawing all his life with his first drawings being done on the cardboard boxes used to deliver groceries to the ranches he lived on.

After starting school he got to use real paper and would mention that his arithmetic just didn’t look right without a horse grazing on the addition.  Since he always saw humor in his surroundings, it was only natural that he began drawing “funny pitchers”.  Eventually his pen and ink cartoons made it to the pages of such magazines as Western Horseman, ProRodeo Sports News, Horse and Horseman, Horse and Rider, American Cowboy, Outdoor Life, Bugle Magazine, Sports Afield, plus work for Ducks Unlimited and the NRA.

   The next step in his art career was to try his hand at painting and it was what Boots seemed to naturally do best.  His humorous western and outdoor paintings and prints became very popular.  Ed Trumble of Leanin’ Tree Publishing in Boulder, Colorado took notice and over the last 30 years has used close to ninety of Boots’ images for greeting cards and other related products.  Ed was a mentor to Boots and encouraged him to develop his own unique style of artwork rather than go to art school.  It was Ed who also suggested that Boots put his little rattlesnake, Buzztail, in all his paintings which became his trademark.

   Boots’ illustrations have also been published in many books for many different authors.  He collaborated with Jim Zumbo of Outdoor Life on three of his books on hunting.  He also did illustrations and contributed two stories to “Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul” book.  But one of his favorite projects was illustrating some stories for his friend and fellow humorist, Pat McManus.  They joined forces and Boots did twelve paintings based on Pat’s stories for a calendar published by Henry Holt and Sons in 1993.   In 2008 Boots proudly had a full color coffee table book of his artwork and favorite bean recipes produced by Keokee Publishing titled “Boots and Beans”.

   Over the years Boots won many awards for his artwork, but his greatest reward was the recognition he got from the ranchers, cowboys, outfitters,  hunters, and outdoorsmen that could identify so closely to his paintings and their subjects.  Nothing pleased him more than to have them explain how they could personally relate to what was going on in one of his paintings, because it had really happened to them or someone they knew.

   He was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association for many years and was also a founding member of the Cowboy Cartoonists International.  Hard to believe that there were others out there that were of the same mindset, but they do exist and they are all truly kindred spirits that have finally found each other through the CCI.

   In recent years Boots tackled another avenue of expression when he began writing.  He was generously mentored and encouraged in this by two Sandpoint authors, Marianne Love and Pat McManus.  Humorous stories of his childhood were a favorite subject and he also wrote a monthly article called “The Mouth of the River” for the paper “The River Journal”. 

    Next to cartooning and painting, Boots’ passion was fishing, especially fly fishing on the Kootenai and Clark Fork Rivers and trolling for steelhead on the Clearwater and Snake.  Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt was his most recent pursuit and these last few years he tried to go as often as possible.  He had some memorable and harrowing trips with his good friends,  fishing guru, Cliff Dare from Troy, Montana, fearless guide, Tim Johnson of Clarkston, Washington and especially world renowned international sportsman, Dave Lisaius of Colbert, Washington, plus his good neighbor, Gene.  Perhaps his greatest fishing adventure happened right here on Lake Pend Oreille in 2008 with fellow local artist and sportsman, Ward Tollbum, when they got really lucky and caught 22 lake trout, all over 5 lbs. each, in just two hours.  It was the trip of a lifetime for both and they were sure they had set some kind of record.

   His parents, four sisters; Yoshi, Iva Lee, Thela Mae, and Willa Bea, and an infant son, Roy Harold have all preceded him in death.

   Boots is survived by his wife of 39 years, Becky, who always stood behind him saying “That’s not right” until he got it right.  Other survivors include; daughters, Rae Ann Gallegos, Denver, Colorado,  Roydene Bouck, Las Vegas, Nevada, son, Rusty Reynolds of Sandpoint, granddaughter, Michelle Massaro and great granddaughter, Mia, and grandsons, Mark Gallegos ,Cody, Robert and Nick Reynolds and Mark Bouck.

   He also leaves behind all the numerous friends he’s made around the country over the years and he’ll always have a special place in his heart for his other “wife” fellow artist/cartoonist Bonnie Shields. 

   Boots and his family would also like to thank everyone at the Kootenai Cancer Center at Bonner General Hospital for all their kindness, caring and patience during his chemo treatments these last few years.  And enough cannot be said about the generous and loving staff of Bonner Community Hospice at Bonner General Hospital.  They are incredible people that go the extra mile and “thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.  Memorial donations may be made to:  Bonner Community Hospice, 520 N. Third Ave., Sandpoint, Id. 83864.

   At Boots’ request there will be no service and he has donated his body to Medcure of Portland, Oregon for medical research and cremation.  There will be a private memorial service scheduled for a later date.

   If laughter is the best medicine then Boots Reynolds has given us the gift of a lifetime prescription.



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Landon Otis

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