Lyle Qualls was always comfortable in a saddle, although he never did find it romantic to look at the south ends of northbound cattle. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZABETH WARRINGTON

The odyssey of a cowboy’s life

In honor of cowboy poet Lyle Qualls
“Back in the day, I was getting up before the sun come up and going to bed after that. You saddle up your horse and ride the range. It ain’t no Roy Rogers bull… ain’t nothing romantic. Looking at the south end of 500 head of northbound cows isn’t romantic. So, I had to get the Hell out of there. I wrote a poem ‘cause I was looking for a woman: “Leavin’ the House and Lookin’ for a Spouse,” Lyle Qualls said.

To meet Lyle Qualls was to love him. Strangers were never strangers for long. His wry wit made him a beloved member of the cowboy/ranching community and he wrote cowboy poetry for over three decades. He lived well – boldly and kindly, with a mischievous grin and a joke always on the tip of his tongue. His cowboying and soldiering days were physically rough on him. After fighting off numerous bouts of cancer caused by Agent Orange, that most insidious foe snuck back. This final time, when his body decided to let go, he went quickly.

“Whenever I think of him and my memories I always think of how many nights we spent under the stars talking and telling tales. Never once did we sleep in a tent. He loved to be in nature, whether it was the mountains or the desert – taking it all in. He would pull out a cot as he got older and put it in the back of his truck and sleep,” his niece Elizabeth Warrington said, explaining she often finds herself smiling through her tears when she thinks of him.

In the strange and sometimes miraculous ways of timing, he died shortly after his cowboy poetry was published in “The Loop” magazine. Qualls excitedly called friends despite his pain and signed and sent copies of the magazine to them. Many were still en route to mailboxes across the nation when he left his cowboy hat behind.

“Leavin’ the House and Lookin’ for a Spouse”

by Lyle Qualls

We know there comes a time in a cowboy’s life When he must slow down and choose a wife. A time to quit that running around, A time to quit actin’ like an old sniffing hound.

Well you know I drank and fought a bit and impressed the girls with my charming wit, But it’s time to find a woman who will cry, As she believes my incredible lie.

Yeah it’s time to look both far and wide And find this ever evasive bride, So off to the mighty city I go, To show them the cowboy from old Idaho. Well the first place I go is the city L.A. But half of the women that I meet are gay. So, I head on to a place called Fontana, But I don’t ride a Harley or wear a bandana, So I head to Reno to find me a honey, But these lovely ladies are just looking for money. Well I know darn well there must be a place where I can find a woman who just likes my face. A woman who will love me for just what I am, Who will stand right beside me when I’m in a jam. So, it’s up to Oregon, there must be some hope, But all the women here just want to smoke dope. So, it’s Washington state and a town called Seattle, But these goofy chicks just make my mind rattle. So, I head to Montana, a town called Great Falls, But the women have chest hair and wear bib overalls! Well, I think I’ll try a place called Cheyenne, And look for a gal with a big frying pan who can fry up a steak, fry a potater who will wrestle a grizzly or a big alligator. But I found these young lovelies just walking their bassetts, Just roaming the streets and flashing their assets, A man just starts to dwindle soon. As far as a wife, I’d rather marry a baboon.

So to Hell with the chase, my search has gone sour, Guess I’ll go on back home and marry that wallflower. So it’s north through Nevada and Elko I meet, And I suddenly have a yearning to cool my feet. So a local drags me to old Mabel’s Inn, Now to stop in this place they say is a sin.

But you know now it’s been five years Since I’ve thought of marriage, of having a family and pushing a carriage. I’m perfectly happy without any spouse, ‘Cause I’m playing piano in Mabel’s Cat House.

Off to the rodeo in the sky went one hell of a guy

Lyle Qualls May 10, 1950-February 17, 2021

by Jana Bounds

There once was a cowboy who’d eyes of steel blue, With a hearty chuckle he’d share wit so true. He’d hand over a beer with a pat on the back, In charmin’ the ladies, he never did slack.

Balin’ hay or twistin’ wire, He worked ‘til his muscles were on fire.

And every now and then, He’d find paper and a pen.

He’d carry on the tradition of 150 years, Where cowboys share tales of their blood, sweat and tears

Invested in the land, in cattle and crops, Come Hell or high water, they worked ‘til they dropped.

This ol’ legendary cowboy – named Lyle Qualls, Was never one to speak of ill fate that befalls.

Nah, he chose to laugh despite any pain, Reckonin’ he’d handle whatever came. ‘Til the announcer at that rodeo in the clouds Called him to a celestial crowd

In the odyssey that was his path, He made his bed beneath the stars, No tent to shield him from the Milky Way’s bath. He sought beauty because he saw wars.

The great measure of a man’s life: Did he cause joy, or did he cause strife?

Let no soul doubt – Lyle Qualls scattered laughter and happiness about.

Many a person, young and old, Reflect on the wisdom he told. With many a chuckle and many a sigh, He’s now entertaining at the grand rodeo in the sky. Maybe that ol’ philandering cow dog is by his side, Or maybe he’ll make eight seconds on that ol’ bull he tried to ride. With a holler and a hoot “Rooty toot toot, let me outta my chute!”

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