Local rancher, mother and grandmother, June Cox, passed away just before midnight, on New
Year’s Eve. She was 78.
Born Carolyn June Wilkin, she was the second child of Robert “Bob” and Della Wilkin of Pioche, and would go on to be one of eleven children.
As a girl, she would help a neighbor, Slim, break horses. This inspired her lifelong passion for riding. She was always disappointed when the horses they broke became good riding stock and were then sent off to their respective owners. So she was overjoyed when she finally acquired a mustang mare of her own, which she named Penney. She proudly rode Penney in high school, when she was crowned Pioche Rodeo Queen.
After graduating from Lincoln County High, she moved to McGill, Nev. where she worked as a secretary for the Kennecott Copper Corporation. There she met William Alvin “Al” Cox. The two would go on to marry. During their unconventional courtship, they would go to the arena where he taught her to rope calves. She took to the sport and quickly became so proficient that she tried to enter the Helldorado Rodeo in Las Vegas. As a woman, she was barred from competing but was allowed to rope exhibition. Her initial attempt at competitive roping would have put her “in the money,” as her time tied her with the cowboy who placed third in the competition.
Frustrated at being the girl who roped exhibition in men’s rodeos, she was delighted to discover the burgeoning women’s rodeo circuit. She began traveling to events sponsored by the Girls Northwest Rodeo Association, where she became known as a competitor to be reckoned with, even after starting a family. A notable success was when she won the All-Around buckle at the Grand Coulee Washington Women’s rodeo in September of 1962, just six weeks after giving birth to her second child.
After a house fire in McGill, June returned to Lincoln County with her husband and two children and settled on the ranch between Panaca and Caliente which she would call home for the rest of her life. It was there the couple welcomed their third child.
By the mid-1960s, June expanded her range and began competing in the Girls International Rodeo League. During summers, she would travel throughout the northwest and Canada, including the finals in Calgary where she won World Championships in Calf Roping and Goat Tying in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
June’s competitive rodeo career ended in a tragic accident at the Ely Horse Show. After placing third in the quarter mile stock horse race, her prized stallion, Poco Paiute suffered a stroke and collapsed on top of her. She was critically injured and flown to Salt Lake City where she spent weeks in the hospital and endured several reconstructive surgeries. She returned home where she recovered and settled into running the ranch.
As a female rancher, she was profiled by the Las Vegas Review Journal and was chosen to represent Nevada at a national conference on small farms in Lincoln, Neb.
Divorced from Al, in 1969, June would later be married to Floyd “Duce” Pete from 1978 until his death in 1983.
June is survived by her sons: Daniel Alvin “Dan”, of Logandale, and his children: Kayce, Braden, Taylor, Jarren, Evann, Corden, Kendyll; Clinton Jay “C. Jay” of Los Angeles, and his son, Alo; and Bert Lynn, of Caliente, and his children, Kyle, Katlyn and Kade.
A graveside service was held at the Pioche Cemetery on Saturday, Jan. 10, followed by a luncheon at the Caliente LDS Church.