He was a giant. A legend. A superhero. Most of all, he was a cowboy.
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Harry Jack Wilfong was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, to Clara Evelyn and Birch Wilfong. He spent his childhood on endless adventures with his siblings, who always took care of Harry, the baby of the family, but also shared in many goodhearted pranks - and a few mishaps.
He first met Judi Phifer while he was sitting in a water trough at the Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford, Texas, where he brazenly stated “I’m going to marry that girl!” His friend replied, “You can’t even get a date with that girl!” Well, he did, and they were married February 12, 1972.
Harry Wilfong was larger than life. He was quick-witted, not afraid of anything, confident in who he was, incredibly proud of his family, and as faithful as the day is long. Harry loved his family and the way of life that he was raised, that he lived, and in which he was able to raise his family. If church is where you feel closest to God, he spent his days there, as Harry’s happiest place was in a pasture, horseback, and surrounded by nature and cattle.
Harry was incredibly proud of his three children and his wife, Judi, was the light and love of his life. His three grandchildren were his pride and joy.
Those who knew Harry would be quick to describe his signature outfit: Wrangler jeans, a khaki, long-sleeved shirt, boots, spurs, and a cowboy hat. He was, in almost every way, just like the characters on his favorite television shows: westerns.
He resided in Malakoff, Texas
He served on the board of the Texas Cowboy Reunion, where he was awarded the Working Ranch Cowboy Award in 2010. He held a PRCA Gold card. Throughout his rodeo career, he won numerous buckles, saddles, and titles. He was also the unofficial mascot for his grandsons’ youth baseball teams, where he proudly supported at every game he could attend.
Harry had many qualities that will never be forgotten. When times were the hardest, he was the best. He was cheerful in all weather and never shirked a task. He loved with his whole heart and was fiercely loyal.
Harry leaves a list of loving survivors, who are so incredibly thankful for the wonderful memories they have of him: his wife, Judi (Phifer) Wilfong, his children, Chick Wilfong and wife Jodi, Tate Wilfong and wife Sara, and Mimi Wilfong; his grandchildren, Gus, Jesse, and Whit Wilfong; his brother, Bob Wilfong, his sister, Jo Buckaloo; and friends and loved ones galore.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents, Clara Evelyn and Birch Wilfong, his brother, Bud Wilfong, his sister, Nelva Ambriz.
Visitation for Harry will be May 6, from 5-7pm, at Hannigan Smith Funeral Home in Athens, Texas. Services will be led by Pastor Derek Rogers at Living for The Brand Cowboy Church in Athens, Texas, on May 7, at 2pm, with internment to follow at Post Oak Cemetery in his hometown of Malakoff, Texas. Pallbearers will be Tommy Rodell, Breck Dodd, Rex Ford, Paul Riggs, Bryan Forrester, and Henry Miller.
A fund has been set up to benefit the Texas Cowboy Reunion Old Timer’s Association. If you would like to contribute, make checks payable to the Old Timer’s Association and mail to: PO Box 888, Stamford, Texas 79553.
“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you lived.” ~spoken by Augustus McCrae, Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry