Vale 4th of July grand marshals’ roots here run deep

Children wave at the 2018 4th of July parade in Vale (File photo).

VALE – Nothing makes Rick and Sheryl Johnson happier than living life in the country.

Rick grew up on his family’s farm and ranch south of Vale.

He got his first horse when he was 9 and has been a cowboy ever since.

His three greatest interests in life have always been sports, horses, and cattle.

Sheryl grew up on a Vale farm and spent most of her childhood in the outdoors riding horses, fishing and milking cows.

In many ways, she shares the same interests as her husband.

The Johnsons will be the grand marshals of the Vale 4th of July Rodeo after being selected by the rodeo board. Brian Wolfe, Malheur County Sheriff and rodeo board member, endorsed the couple, praising their service and contributions to the community.

“The Johnsons are hardworking people who made the choice to live in and raise a family in the Vale area,” Wolfe wrote in a nomination letter to the Grand Marshal selection committee. “For years and years, the Johnsons have operated a cattle ranch, farm and feedlot. The Johnson Feedlot is a multi-generation operation that has contributed significantly to the economy of Malheur County.”

Wolfe added that local producers have always trusted and respected the couple.

The Johnsons, who live just outside the Vale city limits, said they’re honored to be selected, and grateful to live in such a wonderful community that keeps the western lifestyle alive.

Rick graduated from Vale High School in 1968, and Sheryl graduated a year later.

They have been married for 47 years.

Together they raised five children, three now living in Vale. They have 19 grandchildren – and have one more coming on the Fourth of July.

Their daughter Rishelle Scott, who now lives in the Houston area with her husband Myles, said her father coached youth and high school sports, served on the Vale school board from 1988 to 1993, and was a member of the Producers Livestock board.

“His passion has always been training horses,” Scott said. “He trained and showed snaffle bit horses until life got too busy.”

Meanwhile, Sheryl has been a long-serving volunteer of the local Cub Scouts program and “is a passionate supporter of her kids and grandkids,” Scott said.

The Johnsons have been attending the Vale 4th of July Parade and Rodeo since they were children.

They regularly sponsor the suicide race and the rodeo, which has become a big part of their family tradition.

“The Johnsons believed that by sponsoring the rodeo and other events, a stronger community was being built,” Wolfe wrote in his endorsement of the couple. “Rick and Sheryl are pillars in the community and have been positive influences on many levels. Vale is a better place because of them.”

The Johnsons will be honored at the traditional rodeo kickoff barbecue at 6 p.m. Monday, July 1, at Wadleigh Park.

Have a news tip? Reporter Kristine de Leon: news@malheurenterprise.

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