Monday, February 11, 2013

For The Love Of Rodeo

February 4, 2013 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Gary Mulholland was devoted to Lost Dutchman Days
and to his community.
 Gary Mulholland was devoted to Lost Dutchman Days and to his community of Apache Junction. If you had observed this American cowboy and his dedication to Rodeo at the Lost Dutchman Day’s Rodeo in 2011 you would have never believed he was born in Dayton, Ohio.

He was sincerely a true "man of the West." There was nothing he loved better than rodeo, except his wife Susie, his family and helping children. Just how did Gary find his way to the American rodeo arena? The answer is that he found his way to rodeo through an event called Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction.
Gary Lee Mulholland was born in Dayton, Ohio on August 8, 1947 to Melvin and Jeanette Mulholland. Gary attended Gettysburg Elementary School and Jr. High School in Dayton, Ohio. He attended Red Bud High School in Red Bud, Illinois.

Gary married the love of his life, Susie, in Dayton, Ohio on November 29, 1975. Gary and Susie have three children; Tonya Westerman, Chad Mulholland and Scott Mulholland.

Gary grew up in the Midwest. He loved sports and played in a men’s softball league. He also enjoyed fishing and playing poker. Once Gary and Susie moved their family to Arizona he found another love and that was rodeo. His love for rodeo started in 1982 at the P &M Arena.

His first volunteer job with rodeo was with his father and two brothers. The four men manned the beer booth and his love for rodeo grew from there. It was at this booth Gary met many new people associated with horses, livestock and rodeo. It was almost love at first sight for Gary being around all these cowboys, learning from them and being a part of the West.

Gary was soon volunteering for a variety of jobs associated with rodeo in our area. He became very involved with the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo group. His work certainly benefited organizations such as the Apache Junction Boys and Girls Club and Little League. His two boys Chad and Scott were involved in Little League and Gary helped by coaching Little League teams also.

It wasn’t long before Gary was chairman of the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo committee. I worked closely with him in 1989 and witnessed his love for the sport. There were several years I served on a committee with Gary that selected an outstanding citizen of our community for the Lost Dutchman of the Year award for community service. Gary always sought out the person who had contributed the most to community service. He spent every minute he could to be sure everything was just right and ready for three-day of rodeo event for Lost Dutchman Days. The Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce sponsored the Rodeo in those days. Change eventually came for Lost Dutchman Days. The change came about when Gary Muholland formed a non-profit organization called the Superstition Promotional Group to manage Lost Dutchman Days and the rodeo. This non-profit group slowly started building Lost Dutchman Days into another entity that eventually became self-sufficient.

Today, the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce and the Superstition Mountain Promotional Group work together to bring our community Lost Dutchman Days each year. Lost Dutchman Days includes a carnival, parade, a professional rodeo, a rodeo dance, vendors and a variety of community activities.
Not only did Gary Muholland have a love for rodeo, he had a love for helping children. Raising funds to help children in our community was one of Gary’s main goals. He was known for wanting to "put smiles on children’s faces."

The many donations the Superstition Mountain Promotional Group has provided for children’s groups in Apache Junction speaks highly of this volunteer organization led by Gary Mulholland. He received many community appreciation awards and was posthumously given the Arizona Governors "Spirit of Service Award." His wife accepted this award from the governor on Gary’s behalf.

He also received the "Citizen of the Year" award posthumously for 2012 from the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News.

Gary’s last year, prior to his untimely death in the fall of 2011, was the most successful year in Lost Dutchman Days history. According to Hux Russell, Chairman of the Superstition Mountain Promotional Group. This success fulfilled Gary’s dream of helping children with a group of volunteers.

Gary Lee Muholland won and received many awards for his service to community and humanity, but the most important one of all was the "smiles he could put on faces of our children."