Ernie Love is the 2012 Rodeo Cowboy.
“I lived, breathed, ate and slept to be a cowboy and to rodeo.”
Ernie Love was born June 3, 1934, in Hutchinson to Raleigh and Mary Love and was raised at El Dorado. Love always wanted to be a cowboy and milked cows by hand at nine-years-old to pay for his first horse. He quit school in his teens and got started in rodeo when he worked for rancher Wilbur Countryman of Cassoday. He learned to ride broncs one summer at the Emmett Robert’s Rodeo Ranch near Strong City.
After joining the Rodeo Cowboys Association, Love competed nationwide consistently winning bareback bronc, saddle bronc, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, steer roping and team roping competition. He competed in the first National Finals Rodeo in 1958 at Dallas. Love was busy in 1973 when he placed in 64 out of the 69 rodeos in which he competed. He also participated in registered quarter horse shows showing rope horses. Ernie Love has won numerous titles in a variety of events spanning more than 60 years. During maturity, he took part in Old Timers Rodeos riding bulls, placing second in the nation one year. He won his last bull riding at age 61 and placed in roping competition well into his 70’s. Ernie was an honorary lifetime member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and judged rodeos throughout the Midwest.
On Dec. 10, 1996 Ernie married Kathy at Westmoreland, Kansas. Late in his life, they lived on a 20-acre tract near Manhattan. Ernie had three sons, Dale, Ernie and Neil, two step-daughters Wendy Murphy and Marilyn Ortega, two grandsons, four step-granddaughters and three great grandchildren. Ernie Love died at the age of 78 on July 22, 2012 at his ranch near Manhattan just one day after being informed of his induction into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.