New honor for old cowboy
By Jan Jarvis
J.W. Stoker has spent most of his life either in the saddle or flipping out of it as stunt man and trick rider.
But his latest accomplishment has the nonagenarian standing on solid ground. This spring the Parker County Committee on Aging honored him by declaring a J.W. Stoker Day.
Stoker, 92, who lives in Weatherford, said he appreciates the honor coming from the county where he lives.
“Parker County is really a cowboy town,” he said. “It was known for having one of the best rodeos in the country. There’s a lot of history here and I’m proud to be a resident.”
Stoker is quick to credit his health and longevity to his physician, Janice Knebl, DO, MBA, Interim Chair, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at UNT Health Science Center.
“Dr. Knebl has really empowered his health tremendously,” said Trish Lynn, a member of the Cowgirl Chicks, a trick riding and rodeo entertainment team coached by Stoker.
J.W. Stoker Day, which was March 15, is the latest in a long list of honors for the celebrated cowboy. He is a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Western Heritage Hall of Fame and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
There have been a few times when an illness or injury kept him down, but only temporarily. He came to Dr. Knebl after he developed spinal stenosis. The condition could have sidelined him, but with Dr. Knebl’s help, he was able to ride again.
“Mr. Stoker is truly an inspirational patient who knows that being physically and mentally active is key to optimal aging,” said Dr. Knebl, Dallas Southwest Osteopathic Physicians Endowed Chair in Geriatrics.
Stoker believes that Dr. Knebl’s care has allowed him to maintain an active lifestyle.
“Riding uses every muscle in your body and it takes a lot of energy,” he said. “You have to be in incredibly good shape to do it.”
No doubt, Stoker has gotten plenty of exercise. He started trick riding when he was 10. Over his lifetime, he has performed in every state except Alaska and performed at Madison Square Garden four times. He also performed for the Queen of England and did a 10-month stint in Japan, twice.
In his younger days, Stoker was the stunt man for TV Cowboy Roy Rogers and other. He was able to do a headstand in the saddle as a boy and once appeared on a box of Wheaties.
“I lived a good clean life, didn’t smoke or drink,” he said. “That’s why I am still able to keep busy taking care of the horses I love.”