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Death of Horseman, Howard Roberts, Clinton, Missouri


Howard Ellis Roberts, 89, Clinton, MO passed away Wednesday morning, August 9, 2006, from metastasized colon cancer. He was at his home on the farm with his three daughters by his side. Funeral services were Monday, August 14, 2006 at the Vansant-Mills Funeral Home in Clinton, MO.  Burial was in Englewood Cemetery, Clinton, MO. 


Howard was born December 22, 1916 in Henry County, MO.  He was the son of George and Mary Alvena “Vena” Roberts.  His marriage to Dorothy Estella Meredith was blessed to have celebrated sixty-six years of marriage before her death in April 2003.  The marriage produced three daughters, Patricia “Gayle” Johnson of Columbia, MO, Barbara “Lorraine” Jacobs of Belton, MO and Myra Elaine Finks of Clinton, MO.  Howard also leaves behind five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.  Howard was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton and in this past year he has cherished attending Sunday services and visiting with the Pastor and church members.


For over eighty years Howard with the assistance of Dorothy was nationally known for the training, breeding and showing of fine American Saddlebred horses, their stable is the Roberts Stable.  Howard’s father, George, started the Roberts Stable when he became involved with racing mules and followed them with the purchase of some saddle horse stock.  When he bought an American Saddlebred stud, Arletha’s Easter Cloud, from the Longview Farm, it launched a highly successful business in breeding, training and showing American Saddlebreds that continued with Howard.  At one time Howard and Dorothy owned 54 head of horses in addition to customers’ horses that were being board and trained.

Howard made his first trip to the Missouri State Fair Horse Show in 1924 at the age of eight.  He recalled that it was a big event for him.  The Roberts family rode and drove their show horses from home to a rail siding on the MK&T Railroad.  Once there, they loaded on a train and rode it to
Sedalia.  The family camped on the fair ground during the horse show, showed their stock and then returned back home again by train.  Howard did not show a horse on his first trip but he remembers helping to feed, water and run errands.

Howard had not missed a state fair horse show since his first one 81 years ago until this year due to his health, though he would remind you that there were two years during World War II when the fair did not open. There have been as many as 24 head of horses in the Roberts Stable stalls at the State Fair.  The Missouri State Fair honored Howard in 1994 for seventy years of participation and he had his wife and family by his side in the show arena.  Howard had made plans to attend the state fair this Wednesday to watch his colt show and be able to say he had attended the fair for 82 years.  Unfortunately, he realized on Tuesday afternoon that he wasn't going to be able to make the trip.  As a final hurrah, on Wednesday morning the colt won the Open Filly Weanling Class and later in the afternoon the Amateur Weanling Class with
Myra leading the filly and Lorraine tailing.  In the end, Howard didn't make 82 years as an on-site participator at the fair, but he did make 82 years as a winning fair exhibitor.

At the age of thirteen, Howard began showing horses.  In the 1930’s the stud, Arletha’s Easter Cloud, was siring champions.  Easter Vanity was one that several people remember.  Howard showed him all over the State of
Missouri, winning many championships against strong competitors.  Easter Serenade was an Easter Cloud progeny that won a World Five-Gaited Grand Championship at Louisville, Kentucky.  The sale of Easter Serenade provided the money for building the stable and training barn on the home farm.  Other horses bred or trained by Howard include Easter Sinclair, Royal Star of Windsor, Strutter, Stonewall Jewell, Stonewall Sensation, Town Talk, Lady Dare, Bugle Ann, Windsor Queen, Windsor Charm, Starlite S, Miss Glenn-O-Rama, Walnut Ridge’s Happy Selection, Grapetree Fox, and My Brightest Memory along with countless others.  He also showed and trained Hackney ponies.

For several years when he was not busy showing, Howard judged horse shows in
Missouri and surrounding states.  Somewhere in his busy schedule he always seemed to find time or took time to share his experience and expertise with those just starting out or already in the horse business.  Howard also had a good story or joke to tell those around him.  He had become a big fan of the Missouri Tiger Men’s Basketball team and was always cheering them on in front of the TV when they played the Kansas Jayhawks.

And, as always when Howard left the Missouri State Fairgrounds he was planning on what he would show or bring for the next year.

The family suggests contributions to the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton Building Fund, 220 E. Franklin St., Clinton, MO, 64735 or the American Saddlebred Museum, 501 S. Muldrow, Mexico, MO, 65265.

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