Nationally renowned cowboy poet, veterinarian, and storyteller Baxter Black died Friday at the age of 77. Black, a resident of Benson, Arizona, was a beloved figure in the agricultural industry, and outpourings on his behalf have been going on for months while Black was in hospice care.
Born in New Mexico, Black worked for a feed yard and graduated from veterinary school at Colorado State University. After practicing as a large-animal veterinarian, he found his niche performing for cattlemen, dairymen, ranchers, cowboys, and more. While attending the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association Annual Convention, Black met his wife, Cindy Lou Logsdon, who was playing a fiddle in the band. The rest after that was history.
Black’s poetry was often based on real-life situations, and he seemed to find humor in even the less humorous and western situations. The performer even referred to being “down to no keys” at a point in his life, a time when he had nowhere to call his own and nothing to drive. However, he didn’t stay down long.
Along with making appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Black was also featured by NPR.
At the time, in 1984, Yellowstone was burning. The cowboy poet wrote a poem about the fires and sent it to NPR. The news outlet picked him up and continued to call. When asked why it worked, Black said, “I was the oddity. That’s why it worked.”
Black went on to share his humor (like how to tell the difference between farmers and ranchers) and stories with people across the country, speaking at FFA conventions and groups. He wrote a weekly column, appeared on RFD-TV, published and recorded audiobooks, and printed works.
Altogether, he sold more than a million books and audios, entertaining countless people over his career. One of Black’s shining attributes was his ability to connect to and inspire people.
He said his life was blessed, “I like what I do. I have a great home to come home to, a couple good horses, a few cows, a good dog, and friends everywhere I go. I’m square with God and I make a living entertaining people I care about.
Black leaves behind old friends and new fans alike. As Black put it, he had a “narrower following, but it’s deep.”