Chad Ferley of Oelrichs went into Thursday night's opening round of the National Finals Rodeo with much more on his mind than simply riding a bucking bronc or winning a championship.
Earlier in the day, Ferley learned that his 64-year-old father, Jerry Ferley, had died at Rapid City Regional after suffering a heart attack.
"It was pretty unexpected, something that no one was really expecting," Chad Ferley said Friday afternoon from Las Vegas, after an 84-point ride on Thursday. "He's been pretty laid up recently, in fact, and was supposed to go in for a new hip in a couple of weeks. He rode a lot of colts when he was younger. He was a pretty hard man and put a lot of wear and tear on his body."
In addition to ranching with his wife, LeeAnn, and five children -- Shane, Casey, Chad, Shanna and Dee -- Jerry Ferley did some bronc busting on his own stock and occasionally competed in area rodeos, according to his son.
"He grew up in Philip and moved to Oelrichs after he and mom got married. They moved there and set up ranching on my mom's father's place. Dad did quite a bit of bronc riding, too, when he was young, broke a lot of horses and rodeoed some riding broncs," Chad reminisced. "That's how I happened to get into it, I guess. He really enjoyed rodeo and watched it all the time. He was a man who knew a lot of people and liked to get around and visit. As far as people remembering him, that will kind of be up to them, though most everybody liked him, and I don't think that will be a problem."
The saddle young Ferley started on must have carried some pretty good father's luck, as Ferley went on to bronc-bust his way to the 2006 PRCA world saddle bronc championship.
"That was a pretty good occasion for all of us -- dad included," he added after a pause. "Though he never did come out to Vegas, he always would rather watch on TV."
Chad Ferley said he will do what he believes that his dad would have wanted him to do and stay in Las Vegas and ride broncs at the National Finals Rodeo.
"I know he wouldn't have wanted me to come home at all," he said. "And as far as being here, I still have to come out every night and do my job and hope everything goes well and keep everything rolling."