Today the Cloverdale Rodeo community mourns the death of longtime volunteer and “legendary cowboy” Will Senger, who passed away yesterday afternoon at 85 years old.
Senger was a familiar face at the Stetson Bowl, where he was known by many. Rodeo officials, clowns and cowboys would congregate around his chair, positioned just inside the fence, to say hello.
“Will has been a part of the Cloverdale Rodeo family since the very beginning,” said Cloverdale Rodeo president Shannon Claypool. “He was a legendary cowboy, a pioneer of this event and an incredible champion of Cloverdale and Surrey.”
Senger was born during the Depression, and grew up around horses. He was a stable hand as a child, and at 16 years old he started a career as a bareback bronc rider, eventually moving on to steer wrestling.
He then began volunteering for the Cloverdale Rodeo in the 1950s, and would do so for decades to come.
“In 1974 Will took over a Rodeo Chairman and helped orchestrate a fantastic 10-year turn-around,” said Claypool.
When Senger began as a chairman in 1962, the rodeo had seats for about 1,500 people. This year, the rodeo had more than 21,000 people attend. Senger was recognized within the rodeo community across the province and the country for the work he did to improve the community event.
Senger received a lifetime membership to the Fraser Valley Exhibition Association for his work in Rodeo in 1983, and was voted Committee Man of the Year by his peers in professional rodeo in 1986.
In 1992, he received the Governor General’s Medal for Dedication to Rodeo, and in 2004 he became the first British Columbian to be inducted into the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame.