Joanne and Roudy Roudebush

Joanne and Roudy Roudebush lost their barn in a fire this summer. Friends and family are rallying around the couple Wednesday at the Sheridan Bar. (Photo courtesy Joanne and Roudy Roudebush)

When losing a significant part of one’s life or business, one of two choices are generally presented; either let the life altering event win and call it quits, or rejoice in the love and support of friends and family, throw a party celebrating a lifetime of work, friendships and partnerships, rebuild, and keep moving forward.

When Telluride’s legendary cowboy Roudy Roudebush lost his barn and all its contents including 29 years’ worth of priceless, museum-quality cowboy gear, antiques, photos and collectables in a fire this July, he was faced with these two choices.

He chose the latter.

“I've kind of come to this revelation here recently; shouldn’t we celebrate more that we're alive? I've spent the last month and a half mostly around my old friends and stuff that I've been too busy to talk to for about 30 years,” Roudebush said.

The barn, Roudebush explained, was built 29 years ago with the help of his friends using materials they had salvaged from jobsites.

“All my buddies came on a Saturday morning and we built the barn in six hours,” he said.

Above and beyond saddles, gear, antiques and memorabilia, the barn held countless memories for Roudebush, his wife Joanne, his friends and those who have worked with him over the years.

This Wednesday, longtime friends and family will throw a party for Roudebush at the Sheridan Bar from 4-7 p.m. with a silent auction, raffle, appetizers, good times and unforgettable stories.

Since Roudebush is known for his quick wit and rough-around-the-edges personality, it seemed only appropriate to have a little fun at his expense, too, with a humorous roast in his honor. 

Given his long history in Telluride, along with endless stories and “Roudy-isms” it’s safe to assume that friends and wranglers will have a lot to say.

“I've actually been thinking about this roast for a couple of years,” said Robin Wolff, longtime friend who worked as a wrangler for Roudebush in the late 1990s. “It seems the perfect time to actually do the roast component because he's a little about tough love,” she said.

The panel of roasters will include five or six Telluride locals who have known and worked with Roudebush over the years. 
“These guys have all been here for 30 plus years and have seen the thick and thin of it. They have all the stories,” Wolff said. 

The roast portion of the evening will begin at 6 p.m.

Local businesses have come together in support of Roudebush as well, offering generous items for the silent auction and raffle including week-long stays in Costa Rica and Telluride’s River Club, as well as gift certificates from local restaurants and shops.

Originally from Wisconsin, Roudebush came to Telluride in 1970. Since then, he has made quite an impression on those he’s met with his boisterous personality, quick one-liners, and combination of hard exterior with genuine demeanor. Those close to him have endless stories and memories that speak to his character, his hard work and his love for his horses.

“He's part of Telluride history. He's part of Telluride legend. He’s, in a lot of ways, the face of cowboy Telluride and the old Wild West,” Wolff said. “He is a walking, talking Fourth of July.”

Erin Dow recounted her first week working on Roudebush’s ranch in 1996.

“After a long ride on a hot day, us wranglers got off a ride and sat down to enjoy a cold one. Roudy came out of the office all fired up. He told us that no one that works for him will be enjoying a cold drink before his horses do,” Dow said. “Roudy’s love for his horses’ well being comes before anyone else. That’s why I managed his barn for over 14 years.”

For many who know him, Roudebush is credited with much of Telluride’s expansion, as he has exposed countless visitors to the area’s beauty and mountainous scenery via horseback. Many of those visitors, friends reported, have bought land in the area and made Telluride home.

“He’s brought a lot to this community,” said Patti Duax, who has worked with Roudy for over 16 years. “Bringing folks here and kind of getting them to explore the San Juans like he has, that’s just what he loves so much.”

Roudebush said that he and Joanne are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support they’ve received. “Joanne and I so appreciate everything that everyone has done for us,” he said. “This has given me more time to contemplate the joy of being here.”