Roger Brice Hart passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on March 18, 2020, after an extended illness. He was born July 29, 1940, in Prosser, Washington. He was the youngest of nine children and was raised in Mabton where he farmed with one of his brothers and his father. Roger loved horses and rodeo. He competed in bareback riding and rode horses all of his life.
Roger met the love of his life, Susan Speck, in Sunnyside and they were married in 1964. They moved to Conconcully shortly thereafter, where they raised three sons on a 10,000-acre horse and cattle ranch. He worked 1,200 cows at a time, raised hundreds of horses, and brought bulls into the ranch from all over the world. The ranch was a fully self-contained facility where Roger, Sue and their boys put up hay, farmed and ranched every day of every year. Roger was a very well-respected horse trainer and started and finished countless horses in many disciplines. He put in a scale to provide full sale yard operations for all the local ranchers. He supplied the rodeo stock for the Washington High School Rodeo Association throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s.
While in Conconully, Roger served on many boards and associations including the Northwest Cow Cutter’s, Cascade Cow Cutters, Washington Cutting Horse Association, and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). He is a past Conconully Town Fire Commissioner and past President of the Cattleman’s Association. Roger was actively involved in the Okanogan Roping Association, the Episcopal Church in Omak and the Okanogan Grange. He judged many competitions including queens’ contests at the State and National High School Rodeo level, as well as Miss Rodeo Washington. Roger was the “Go-To” guy for vet care for local community members living in a rural area. He performed many procedures and delivered and doctored countless cows and horses.
Roger helped all three of his sons learn to rope and ride, passing on his knowledge and love of competition. He helped each one of them in the show pen, cutting arena and on the football field. Roger also turned back in the cutting pen for Sue and the boys, teaching them how to sort a cow and sending his oldest son to the world show in Oklahoma City. All three of his and Sue’s sons qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo all four years of their high school rodeo careers.
When the family relocated to Yakima in 1990, Roger stayed busy. Hart Ranch in Yakima is a full board facility for horses that includes training, riding and special events. Roger and Sue established team penning in the Yakima valley and were the stock contractors for the Yakima Valley Team Penning Association. Both were members of the Cascade Team Penning Association and the Yakima Grange. Roger and Sue have dedicated their entire adult lifetimes serving the youth members of the National High School Rodeo Association. For the last 30 years, Roger served as President of the National High School Rodeo Scholarship Foundation and Sue has been the National Director for Washington State. They have continued to support the western heritage and sport of rodeo for all young equine athletes near and far.
Roger is preceded in death by his parents, William and Louise, and eight siblings, Glenn, Bob, Keith, Bill, Lola, Marlene, Maxine and Judy. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Susan Hart, his three sons, Roger “Willy” Hart (Laurie), James (Katrina), and Jon, along with three grandchildren, Dylan, Colton and Aubrey Hart, all of Yakima.
A celebration of life is planned for the summer. A special thank you is extended to the staff of Memorial Hospice Services who were a tremendous support, Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside for their respectful care, and the many friends and family who provided comfort and love to all of the Harts. Those wishing to sign Roger’s online memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com Smith Funeral Home is in care of arrangements.
To plant a tree in memory of Roger Brice Hart, please visit our tribute store.