February 17, 2009, by Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

Rusty McCall





Cowboy Rusty McCall, a man of courage and fortitude, left this world August 31, 2013. Rusty lived his short life as his entire extraordinary family does, full of love, generosity, and purpose.

Rusty faced major brain surgery and other procedures, radiation, and treatment for his serious neurofibromatosis condition, spending the last year of his life visiting friends and family, and having visits from them on the McCall's New Mexico ranch.

A popular poet and reciter, Rusty made his first appearance at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at age 3, in 1989. He performed there many times since and at other gatherings, including the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, sometimes along with other the other poets and reciters in his ranching family, including his parents, Dave and Deanna Dickinson McCall, and his sisters Terri Anne Knight and Katie McCall Owen. In recognition of Rusty's indomitable spirit, the 2010 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering was dedicated to Rusty McCall, "...for his courage and perseverance in spite of his medical problems to carry on the oral tradition of the cowboy."

Rusty will be deeply missed by many, many devoted friends and a great extended family.

David Russell McCall was born June 25th, 1986 in Elko, NV. Rusty, as he was known, grew up on the Elko County family ranch, attending a one room school 25 miles away in Currie until 8th grade. In order to attend high school 65 miles away, he boarded in Wells, NV, with family members and the Louise Lear family. He loved ranch life, riding, working cattle, hunting, and trapping. Rusty loved animals, from cats to chickens, and heifers to horses. He learned old cowboy poems and stories on the ranch, many from his granddad. Rusty was the youngest poet to perform at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and went on to perform throughout the West. The cowboy poetry and music community became a second family to him. He was a member of 4-H and FFA. He participated in junior rodeos and on the Wells High School rodeo team, riding in the bareback bronc event. Rusty attended CSI, studying water resource management.

Rusty was diagnosed with a rare disease at age 20, known as NF2. He underwent brain tumor surgeries, chemo and radiation. The disease resulted in deafness, gradually causing many disabilities. Regardless of this, he still kept up a miraculous spirit and sense of humor. He enjoyed touring the ranch to see the cattle, became an avid collector of guns and hunting paraphernalia. He spent many hours conversing with friends and family via computer, and treasured the folks who took the time to communicate with him. He lost his battle on Aug 31, 2013 at home on the ranch, surrounded by family, as was his wish.

Rusty leaves his parents, Deanna Dickinson and David Kendall McCall, paternal grandfather, William Lyndell McCall, sisters Terrill Knight (Jeremy), Katherine Owen (Greg), many aunts and uncles, his beloved nieces and nephews and numerous cousins.

A Celebration of Rusty McCall's Life will be held at the Timberon Lodge in Timberon, New Mexico, at 1:00 Saturday, September 7, 2013.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help with neurofibromatosis research:  Advocure NF2, PO Box 4118, Clearwater, Florida 33758-4118; www.advocurenf2.org.

You can write to Deanna and Dave McCall at PO Box 376, Timberon, NM 88350-0376.

Noted photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller (kevinmartinifuller.com) has taken photographs of Rusty McCall at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering over the years. With thanks to him and to Steve Green, Archivist at the Western Folklife Center, we're pleased to share some of those images:








Others have shared additional photographs in recent years:

photo by Paulette Tcherkassky
Bimbo Cheney and Deanna, Dave, and Rusty McCall, Prescott, 2007

courtesy of Nika Nordbrock, from a report here

Three generations of cowboy poets; the McCall Family at the 2012 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering

February 2009 photographs and caption by Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com
 Rusty McCall in Alpine, Texas at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (February, 2009).
From left to right: Rusty with very good friend Gail Steiger, in day sessions, and on the main stage Saturday night.


2010 photo courtesy of the McCall family


Photos by Lori Faith Merritt


Lori Faith Merritt (www.photographybyfaith.com) traveled to New Mexico to photograph the McCalls in 2009 and she shared this photos of Rusty.

February, 2009, by Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

February, 2009, by Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

February, 2009, by Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com



Deanna Dickinson McCall wrote this poem for her son Rusty in 2011:

For Rusty

Silence that needs no filling, quiet with the soft plod
Smiles that donít come easy, gestures answered with a nod
Circles made in a corral, saddles gathering fine dust
Walking on ground a chore, ride his horse he must.

Started out riding in front, little hands grabbing the horn
Sleeping most of the time, baby cowboy bred and born.
Rode some broncs in school, took his share of licks
Worked lots of cows, reins were his joy stick.

Pardner still knows him, horses donít ever forget
Repertoire built by miles, sun up to sun set
There were others, he rode them, too
Switching their tails, they watch anew.

Weíre riding today, side by side again
Making circles of old, riding in the pen.
Blessing and gifts, thankful to once again ride
January sun warm, my son at my side.

© 2011, Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


Virginia Bennett, a long-time friend of Rusty's and all of the McCalls, offers her poem:

Home Again

When the echo of a thousand thunders
rolls across the barren plain,
and I'm called beyond the silver-dusted peaks.
As lightning strikes from east to west
in one long, unbroken chain,
I will answer to the One whose Shadow speaks....

Far past the point of my control,
a slave to natural order I must be,
And the power of His Voice will chill me to the bone.
Yet, I've been gifted with the confidence
that when that passing comes to me,
I will never have to make that trip alone.

Through gilded clouds, 'neath fields of stars,
to a land unimagined in my dreams,
Where south meets north and up finally touches down,
Where surreal landscape passes by
as ghostly as the seascape gleams,
And the rugged wilderness receives her crown...

I see a river glisten in the moonlit night,
And a wagon waits, with horses handy,
all hitched up offer me a ride.
I can see the wise, young driver, he flashes me a smile!
It's our Rusty, fine and dandy,
and he's waitin' on the other side.

© 2013, Virginia Bennett
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.





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