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Omaha Magazine

Bustin’ Chops, Sweatin’ Bulls

Aug 26, 2016 05:41PM ● By Kara Schweiss

Jim and Emily Codr are the parents of four children ages 5 to 9, so they trek downtown often to enjoy attractions like the giant slides at the Gene Leahy Mall, the train exhibits at the Durham Museum, walking around the Old Market, and to catch Creighton Bluejays basketball games. They’re admitted city slickers most of the year, but for one day every fall the whole family gets decked out from hat to boots in Western wear for the Aksarben Stock Show & Rodeo.

Last year, daughter Nora (now 7) went from onlooker to participant when she held tight for a thrilling six seconds in the “Mutton Bustin’” sheep riding competition. She placed second in her round.

“She absolutely loved competing in front of a big crowd like that,” Emily Codr says, adding that her daughter is eager to try again this September, perhaps with some of her siblings. “She did it (last year) because she was probably the most adventurous of the bunch…Potentially, I could have three of my four kids compete this year.”

Codrs1The Codr kids aren’t the first rodeo participants in the family. Jim’s father, Frank Codr, has the deepest connection to rodeo, and not just because he and his son have dressed in Western gear at their office (Wiig-Codr Underwriters Co.) during the Aksarben Rodeo days for many years. The horse in the company logo is a nod to Frank’s three years riding on bareback broncos and bulls as a professional rodeo cowboy.

“I remember riding horses (since) forever,” Frank says of his youth on the family farm 10 miles west of Seward. By the time he was the same age as his youngest grandchild, Frank was already a horseman of sorts, riding his beloved pony Goldie to help round up the family’s small herd of milk cows after they spent the day grazing in the pasture. “Sometimes I would ride Mousey, one of my mom’s favorite milk cows, out of the barn,” he recalls, adding with a chuckle: “It was my first bovine incidence of riding.”

Frank won a calf one year at a Butler County Fair calf-catching event, and he raised the Black Angus to become a record-setting grand champion steer at a later Aksarben stock show. Frank learned to train problem horses early on, so when the opportunity to try bull riding came up, he was confident it was something he could handle.

“I didn’t have a problem with bucking stock because I’d been around it my whole life,” Frank explains, but he still ended up on the ground immediately—inside the chute—on his first try. “I got razzed so bad,” he says. Undaunted, he rodeod on weekends while working for an insurance company during the week. The euphoria didn’t make up for the risk and the inevitable injuries, and by the time he was in his mid-20s, Frank retired from rodeo for good, a decision both his boss and his new wife heartily supported.

These days, Frank is satisfied with being a rodeo spectator and footing the annual family trip to Wolf Bros. Western Store. He has also led the Codr family’s ongoing advocacy of Aksarben.

“Aksarben really does an outstanding job of encouraging agriculture. And I’ve always thought they were a wonderful organization,” he says. “(The rodeo and stock show) is a great tradition in Omaha. I just love bringing my grandbabies and my son and my daughter-in-law there.” 

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