WHITE BIRD – What started 30 years ago has come full circle for Mike and Marlene Heath.
“We met in our living room with a group of other people and we were saying we needed to do something to add to White Bird Days,” Marlene explained. And that’s how the White Bird Rodeo was born.
The Heaths will serve as the grand marshals for the 2019 White Bird Days and Rodeo, set for Father’s Day weekend.
Clearwater Valley High School junior, Kaylee Page, is the 2019 White Bird Rodeo Queen. She is the daughter of Yogi and Phyllis Page of Clearwa…
“It’s definitely a family event on a family weekend,” Marlene said.
Mike was born in Lewiston and as a young boy moved to John Day Creek where he was raised on a ranch there. Marlene (Lowe) was born in Boise and then as a child moved to Cow Creek. The two met at Salmon River High School in Riggins.
“We were involved with the Riggins Rodeo for 25 years, and our family was into rodeoing,” Mike said, while he worked as a cow boss on John Day.
They raised their two children, Vicky (now Smith) and Ron, and when their son was a sophomore in high school, they decided to go into full-time logging. They moved to Burns, Ore., for 11 years, where they both drove logging trucks.
“Of course, we missed our friends, and Vicky was married by then, but we really enjoyed our time in Oregon,” Marlene said.
They returned to the White Bird area and ranched again, but Mike decided to retire when he suffered a double loss in one year: both his best horse and best cow dog died.
“I think God was trying to tell me something,” he grinned.
The couple have been married 54 years and have seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They enjoyed being active in the lives of Vicky and her husband, Craig’s, children and watching them grow up.
“About a year and a half ago, we moved to Okanagan [Washington] to retire on our son’s ranch,” Marlene said.
They now get to spend some time watching their two youngest grandchildren in high school rodeo and track.
“We are enjoying getting to spend time In Okanagan, but we’re excited to come back here often and especially for White Bird Days and Rodeo,” Marlene said.
“We really thank the community and the committee for this honor,” Mike added.
The family will camp out at the rodeo grounds and participate in the White Bird Days and Rodeo activities as well as enjoy time with their family and friends.
“The rodeo family is just that – a big family,” Marlene smiled. “And we’re so glad to be a part of it!”