Atkins is a lifelong cowboy

Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lifelong Lunenburg resident Bobby Atkins has been playing cowboys all his life, “and (is) still doing it.”

The 79-year-old was born in Lunenburg and raised in small area of the county known as Hell’s Corner.

“All these small towns used to have a theater when I was a kid, and every Saturday afternoon they showed cowboy movies, and I tried to catch every one that I could,” Atkins explained.

He was raised by parents with western roots and boots.

His mother, he said, was a cowgirl from Missouri and his dad was a cowboy from Nebraska. “I was practically born on a horse,” he said.

Atkins graduated from Victoria High School and decided Lunenburg would be his home for good.

Atkins said he’s honest, a straight shooter and a christian. “Those are the main things.”

He said he seeks to be the best he can be to set a good example for young folks.

“I worked with the Department of Forestry for over 30 years, so I’m pretty familiar with Lunenburg County and the people in it,” said Atkins. “The more out in the boondocks I am, the better I like it.”

He said his favorite thing about Lunenburg is the people.

“They’re just plain, decent people,” he said.

“I like a small town. I wouldn’t like in a big city if they gave me a house to live in.”

Atkins is a member of The Tom Mix Rangers, a group of cowboys who participate in events, such as parades, performing at nursing homes and reenacting shootouts.

“We have fancy guns and fancy holsters and clothes like the cowboys wore,” said Atkins, noting that he would dress like the cowboys did in the western films from the 40s and 50s.

“I usually play the old cowboy, Sunset Carson,” said Atkins. “Sunset Carson was my favorite when I was a kid and I got to know him better when I was older.”

Atkins explained that Sunset Carson was one of the top 10 cowboys in the late 40s and early 50s.

As an adult, Atkins would eventually meet Sunset Carson.

“He was a good friend of mine,” he said.

Atkins would gain the nickname “Sunset Carson” or sometimes just “Sunset” because of his relationship with his friend.

Atkins said he was “pretty lucky” to become friends with his childhood hero.

Atkins had a hand in establishing the National Day of the Cowboy event in Victoria. This year, the day will take place on July 22, Atkins said.

He said organizers have “big plans coming, and I think we’re going to have a big day,” Atkins said, mentioning The Tom Mix Rangers will reenact several shootouts, using blank bullets in their guns.

Atkins said organizers are working to bring at least one celebrity this year for the Day of the Cowboy, but haven’t confirmed yet who it will be.