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By Ted Harbin
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After 20 years as president, longtime volunteer will step down

Dr. R.C. Trotter has been the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo president for 20 years and will be making his last ride through the grand entry as such during this year’s rodeo, which begins this next week.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – For many, Dr. R.C. Trotter is synonymous with Roundup Rodeo.

A family physician in Dodge City for four decades, Trotter has built a medical practice, raised a family and been a major influence on folks around him. While doing so, he shared his passions with those closest to him, and he will pass along a legacy for generations to follow.

“My son, Gavyn, is going to be 10, and his goal is to be president of Dodge City Roundup Rodeo,” said Trotter’s oldest daughter, Shannon Hare. “He’s written it down multiple times. You know you’re leaving a legacy and presenting it to your grandkids when that’s what they talk about.”

Trotter has done that and more over the years with Roundup. This year’s event – set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 6, at Roundup Arena; Dodge City Xtreme Bulls is set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1 – will be his last as president of the volunteer-run organization. Trotter is retiring after 20 years leading a group that has dedicated itself to producing one of the best ProRodeos in North America.

In all, he has committed 40 years of his life to Kansas’ biggest rodeo, a staple of the Dodge City Days celebration. His first 20 years was as a volunteer doc on site.

“I was trained in sports medicine and saw the need for a physician at the rodeo,” Trotter said. “For the first four years, I bought my own ticket and hung out with the EMTs.”

Within time, a small building was erected to help treat cowboys, cowgirls and others that needed a physician’s care; it’s still in use today. By the early 2000s, Trotter was asked to be an officer with Roundup, and by 2003, he had the reins in his hands.

“It’s kind of sad that he’s retiring, because it’s change,” Hare said. “I know 20 years is a long time, and he’s done what I think he meant to do. His vision for the rodeo is in place. I think it’s time for him to step down.”

In his time with Roundup, the rodeo has blossomed. It’s one of the top events in ProRodeo regarding contestant numbers and total payout. He credits the sponsors and fans for the success, but there’s more to it. In just its 35th year, Roundup Rodeo was enshrined into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 2012. Trotter was on hand then, just as he is now. The commitment that comes with volunteerism is special.

“I remember when we were little, and he would take us with him and we would just sit on the fence,” said Courtney Bauer, the middle child of R.C. and Mary Trotter. “We got to see how everything happens behind the scenes: The preparation of all of the staff, the number of people it took to make it happen. You don’t realize what all goes into putting on a rodeo, and I’d bet half of them don’t get to see the rodeo at all.

“My children got to spend some time back there, too. We wanted to repeat it for them, because it’s helpful for them to learn what it’s all about. They’re not watching the rodeo for sheer entertainment. They’re city kids; we don’t live on a farm, and we don’t have cattle. It’s created another generation of families that understand rodeo.”

Not when there’s work to be done. Trotter has been the top dog, but there have been many worker bees over the years. Sometimes it’s a family thing, with the labor being done by one generation to another. Sometimes it’s just one person’s passion.

Trotter wanted to see the rodeo take the next step, and it has.

“To take something like Roundup, the goal is always to make it as great as he could possibly make it,” said Seth Trotter, the youngest and the couple’s only son. “A little bit of him was so driven to be a perfectionist. He was the one getting out on the road and visiting other rodeos to see how they do it, he was always driven to make it the best.”

His kids watched it growing up, and now his grandchildren are seeing the benefits to hard work and fortitude.

“His drive and his passion are really what makes him special,” Hare said. “He puts everything into rodeo, especially Roundup Rodeo. It became his passion, and I don’t know why. He got involved through sports medicine, and then he just wanted to see it grow. It was so neat to watch it.”

Trotter founded Family Practice Associates of Western Kansas 40 years ago, and it remains the oldest independent medical practice in Dodge City. As a man who feeds off his passions, treating patients and caring for others remains a vital part of who he is and what he’s about.

“Dad has a passion for what he loves to do,” Bauer said. “He’s still working full time as a doctor, because he says every day he gets up and is excited to go to work.

“For 41 years, he’s been volunteering. He’s given his time away for free … actually, he’s paid in to it. He actually spends his money to do things. If he loves something so much, he can’t stand to see it not get better every day. It’s the same with Roundup as it is with his practice.”

From watching him dodge livestock while rushing into the arena to treat an injured contestant to seeing their father in the clown act, there are memories the Totter kids will have for a lifetime.

“When I was in middle school, I would go with Dad to the arena, just the two of us,” Seth Trotter said. “It was just him and me, something we did on those hot summer nights. I’ll never forget it.”

For Hare, it comes down to seeing her dad ride in the grand entry and wave at his clan, knowing they were sharing in the adventure as much as he was. Each has something special to hold onto as they watch their doctor dad ride off into the sunset.

“It’s very bittersweet for our family, because we feel like we’re part of it,” Bauer said. “We’re invested. It’s the only time of year when we all come home together. Maybe we still will. The sweet part of it is now that when we come home, we’ll actually get to see him.

“We’re there to watch him be successful.”

They saw that and more, because Roundup will carry on for years to come because of the foundation R.C. Trotter built in his 40 years with the organization.

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