Papa (Cowboy) Rich Isbell, of Red Oak, rode away to Heaven surrounded by family on Friday, March 13, 2020. He was 77. Born in Siluria, Alabama, he aspired to follow in the footsteps of his adopted father and life hero Charles Smith, “Smitty” and join the US Army. Rich’s life and education path led him to Boy’s Harbor where he gained a lifelong passion for animals, riding and caring for horses, mules and livestock and is remembered for showing the first Santa Gertrudis steer in the state of Texas. After high school he enlisted in the US Army and worked hard to achieve the rank of Sargent E5. Then moved to Santa Rosa, California working as a ranch hand at Cloverleaf Ranch, where he met and married his first wife, Tam Wetsel. They began their family in Beaumont, Texas and later moved back to California. Rich was a proud member of the Santa Rosa Rough Riders and enjoyed riding in parades and gymkhanas after leaving the rodeo arena where he rode bareback broncs. Later he met and married the love of his life Judi Keesee. They were wed August 21, 1982. He referred to their time together as a 28 year honeymoon. Their passions were competing with the Circle M dance team, camping, fishing at Blue Lakes and backyard BBQ’s with family and friends. Rich was an avid fan at Piner High School and was known for his bells, drums and bugle. He helped Piner win the spirit award between schools for multiple years. After Judi’s passing, he returned to Texas and became an active member of the Lone Star and J Bar C Cowboy Churches. He took pride in greeting all on his beloved horse Skip. He continued with his passions as a member of National Association of Riding Clubs & Sherriff’s Posses(NARC&SP), Chisholm Challenge volunteer, devoted dancer, and Red Oak’s loyalist fan. Rich and Skip would often be seen riding through town, getting coffee in the McDonald’s drive through or having breakfast at Denny’s. Red Oak’s Famous Cowboy and biggest fan will always be remembered for his bugle, cow horns, drums and cowbells at Red Oak’s football games. You could always find him on the 50 yard line leading the charge and arriving early to support Red Oak Baseball. He will be missed by all who knew him.
He is preceded in death by loving wife Judi; sister Jeanie Strahan and his parents.
He is survived by children: Jennifer Isbell-Schrader (Mark) of Red Oak, TX, Jessica Jensen (Thomas), Kim Aimo, Tammy Hlivka-Gregg (Mark) all of Santa Rosa, CA and John Hlivka (Pam) of Napa, CA; grandchildren: Colton Schrader, Tori Jensen, Lacy Schrader, Clint Schrader, Jennifer Aimo, Gino Aimo, Melissa Griffin, Sophia Hlivka-Powell and Max Hlivka; numerous great-grandchildren; siblings: Carolyn Cox, Kenneth Isbell and Wanda Mills; as well as numerous nephews, nieces and other extended family and friends.
The Family has politely requested any guests in attendance to wear a face covering while inside the Church and to social distance as much as possible.
Memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM December 5, 2020 at the J Bar C Cowboy Church, 230 E. FM 813 Palmer, Texas 75152
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in honor of Rich to Campfire Creek Therapeutic Riding Center of Waxahachie, 767 Bethel Road, Waxahachie, TX 75167.
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