Every other summer, Heidi Merritt helped her dad move cattle the 25 miles between their ranch and the corrals of Cheyenne’s Frontier Days.
While the bustling herd made for good television and public relations for Wyoming’s most famous rodeo, her dad, Hyde Merritt, simply wanted to save money on the trucking bill. He was a pragmatic man, Heidi said, and never shied from hard work. Only later would the cattle drive become the traditional way to open the festivities.
“They do the whole thing because my family started the tradition,” Heidi said.
More than 34 years after Hyde Merritt’s death, the Wyoming rancher will be inducted Saturday into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He will become the 11th Wyomingite to join hundreds of other cowboys who have won the honor.
Ranching was a way of life for Merritt and his siblings, and Merritt passed the tradition to his children, Heidi said. He was a stern father, she said, and all of the kids were expected to work on the ranch — running cattle, branding, building fence, feeding the herds. He demanded respect.
“Our dad was tough,” Heidi said. “But being an adult today, I’m thankful that we were raised like that.”
But Merritt also loved to pull pranks on his kids. During dinner, he would sometimes point out the window and yell “Look!” Only when the kids turned back around did they realize their slice of cake was missing.
Merritt had his hand in forming many of the staples of rodeo life in the Cowboy State. As a student at the University of Wyoming, he helped found the school’s rodeo team. In order to host their first rodeo, he and his teammates borrowed lumber from a local store and built the area by hand. After the event, they dissembled the arena and gave the lumber back.
After flying 31 missions as a bombardier with the U.S. Air Force during World War II, Merritt returned to Wyoming and made his debut in rodeo publishing. He co-owned “The Rodeo News” for two years before taking a job as the editor for Western Horseman Magazine and later became the editor of Quarter Horse News Magazine.
Through these publications, Merritt advocated for the formation of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. In 1950, he helped write the original bylaws for the association — the same year he married his wife, Dede, and began his own ranch west of Cheyenne where the couple raised quarter horses.
“She was the belle of the ball,” Heidi said of her mother. “She dressed to the nines but she could put on her jeans and cowboy with us.”
The entire family took pride from the Quarter Horses they bred. Every horse they rode was from their family line.
“We were always riding something that we raised, that we broke, that we trained” Heidi said. “The family acted as a team. We were good at what we did.”
While running the ranch, Merritt helped found the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association and the Wyoming Quarter Horse Association.
Merritt died in 1983 at the age of 61. The family sold the ranch shortly after, but Merritt’s oldest son, Chip, still breeds the family’s line of quarter horses.
Merritt only met two of his grandchildren before he died, but he adored them, Heidi said.
“He would become tenderhearted and sentimental around them,” she said.
One grandson, Tyler Sedar, remembers very little about his grandfather besides a fishing trip, but the man left an impression on his grandson.
“You listened to what he said,” Sedar said. “And when he laughed, it was the best ever.”
DANANG, Vietnam — President Donald Trump stood before a summit of Asian leaders keen on regional trade pacts and delivered a roaring "America first" message Friday, denouncing China for unfair trade practices just a day after he had heaped praise on President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump told CEOs on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. "I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first."
The president — who pulled the United States out of the Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — said the U.S. would no longer join "large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible."
Instead, he said, the U.S. will pursue one-on-one trade deals with other nations that pledge fair and reciprocal trade.
In a major breakthrough, trade ministers from 11 nations remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — representing roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy — said today they had reached a deal to proceed with the free-trade pact after it was thrown into doubt when Trump abandoned it. However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries' leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.
A statement issued in the early hours today said an accord was reached on "core elements" of the 11-member pact. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.
"Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership," the 11 nations said in a statement.
Separately, a 16-member region-wide pact called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was also under negotiation. It encompasses China and India but also does not include the U.S.
Regarding China, Trump said he'd spoken "openly and directly" with Xi about the nation's abusive trade practices and "the enormous trade deficits they have produces with the United States."
It was a stark change in tone from the day before, when Trump was Xi's guest of honor during a state visit in Beijing. There, Trump opted for flattering Xi and blaming past U.S. presidents for the trade deficit.
Trump said China's trade surplus, which stood at $223 billion for the first 10 months of the year, was unacceptable. He repeated his language from Thursday, when he said he did "not blame China" or any other country "for taking advantage of the United States on trade."
But Trump added forceful complaints about "the audacious theft of intellectual property," ''massive subsidizing of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises," and American companies being targeted by "state-affiliated actors for economic gain."
U.S. officials have raised similar concerns in the past about China, especially with regard to intellectual property.
Today, Trump opened a day of meetings with leaders of the 21-member APEC countries. Later in the day, he was to fly to Hanoi, the capital, to attend a state banquet before formal meetings Sunday with Vietnam's president and prime minister.
Behind the scenes, White House officials quietly negotiated with the Kremlin over whether Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would hold a formal meeting on the sidelines in Danang, with the Russians raising expectations for such a session.
As speculation built, the two sides tried to craft the framework of a deal that Trump and Putin could announce in a formal bilateral meeting, according to two administration officials not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.
Though North Korea and the Ukraine had been discussed, the two sides focused on trying to strike an agreement about a path to resolve Syria's civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, according to officials. But the talks stalled and, just minutes before Air Force One touched down in Vietnam, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the meeting was off.
When asked about the outcome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later snapped at reporters: "Why are you asking me? Ask the Americans."
Trump and Putin crossed paths Friday night during the summit's welcome gala: The two men, each wearing traditional Vietnamese shifts, shook hands and greeted each other as they stood side-by-side for the group photo of world leaders.
University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols condemned the contents of Holocaust denial flyers that were posted around campus in recent days.
“We must acknowledge that the First Amendment allows expression that is so reprehensible that it must be answered,” she said in a statement Friday morning.
Holocaust denial is “simply false,” and part of a history of anti-Semitic behavior, the president said.
“Outrageously incorrect information such as that contained in the fliers has been used for decades by those who hold anti-Semitic views to harass the Jewish community,” Nichols said.
The flyers showed up in a number of buildings across campus and were removed, just as they were last year during Holocaust Remembrance Week at the university, a week sponsored by a student organization UW Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
The timing of the flyers is “no coincidence,” Nichols said.
Remembrance week surrounds the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass, a country-wide ransacking of Jewish homes, businesses, cemeteries and synagogues that some refer to as the unofficial beginning of the Holocaust.
Holocaust survivor Estelle Nadel is speaking at the university Friday. The president encouraged students to attend.
Campus police are investigating the flyer incident. Though the contents of the flyers are protected speech, putting up handbills violates littering ordinances.
The college notified the Anti-Defamation League in Denver of the incident.
Nichols’ statement also praised the student body for its peaceful protest of a controversial guest speaker Thursday night, Dennis Prager, who gave a talk called “Why Socialism Makes People Selfish.”
Students had sought to cancel the event due to some of Prager’s outspoken views on women, race and politics. When they were unsuccessful, they held a protest outside the event.
“Both those students who supported and protested his visit to campus conducted themselves in the manner I expected,” the president said, “Showing respect for other perspectives while peacefully expressing their own views.”