Gary "Slats" Armitage
Gary E. (Slats) Armitage, 58, passed away on August 30, 2018 in Las Vegas, NM. Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at the Kenna Community Church, Kenna, NM with Steve Friskup officiating. Burial will follow in the Kenna Cemetery.
Gary was born on November 28, 1959 in Roswell, NM, the son of Glen Armitage and Cora Jean (Vaughan) Armitage. Gary attended school in the Roswell School District through the eleventh grade. He moved to Dexter High School his senior year to play football and graduated in May of 1977. As a young boy, Gary learned to ride a horse and participated in many Chavez County Sherriff Posse playdays running barrels, flags and break-away roping. During the summers, he roped in the New Mexico Junior Rodeo Association and qualified for the National High School finals in Bozeman, Montana in the team roping. He attended Eastern New Mexico University where he competed on the rodeo team in team roping and calf roping. Many trophies, belt buckles and saddles filled the family living room as a tribute to the competitor and champion that Gary was. He joined the PRCA and made a name for himself in the steer roping, qualifying for the National Finals Steer Roping at the Lazy E Arena in 1992. He was the Turquoise Circuit Steer Roping Champion that same year and finished tenth in the world standings. Gary made a name for himself in the steer roping arena with many big wins at the San Angelo Roping Fiesta and winning a round at the finals. Gary made his living on the rodeo circuit until his health forced his retirement in 2006.
On July 17, 1981 in Ruidoso he was married to Jane Hedeman. In 1983 they moved to Roswell but returned to Portales in 1988. Two daughters were welcomed into this family. Kenna was born in 1985 and Kodi in 1988. They were the light of his life. His legacy of spending time in the practice pen with the girls was his greatest joy. He taught them to ride and spent many hours teaching them to rope competitively. His proudest moments were watching Kenna win second at the National High School Finals in the break-away roping and supporting Kodi and Kenna as they brought home saddles from the HPJRA finals every fall. They both roped on the collegiate level and continue to rope today in the World Series of Team Roping events. In November of 2017, Kenna and Chris Francis welcomed a new baby girl, Karstyn Riata into their family. Slats was a proud grandfather to this baby girl.
In 2007, Gary moved to Lea County where he stayed until moving to Las Vegas to be near his daughter following a lengthy illness. He was a Christian and always considered the Kenna Community Church as his home congregation. As a young boy, he spent many enjoyable weekends and summers visiting his grandparents in Kenna.
Gary is survived by his former wife, Jane Hedeman Armitage of Stephenville, TX; his two daughters and a son-in-law, Kenna and Chris Francis of Las Vegas, NM and Kodi Armitage of Hobbs, NM; a granddaughter, Karstyn Francis; and two brothers, Dwayne Kibbe of Portales and Russell Armitage of Kansas. He was preceded in death by his parents and his infant daughter, Tamara Armitage.
Gary Armitage will be laid to rest in the Kenna Cemetery on September 4, 2018 with Rocky Tivis, J.D. Kibbe, Mike Leatherwood, Mark Bryant, Tom Timberlake and Bill Logerman serving as pallbearers. Honorary Pallbearers will be Dale Vaughan, Karl Dennison, Kent Best, Tommy Skipworth, Jim McReynolds, Jake Barnes and Guy Allen. Those desiring to make memorial contributions may send them to Freedom Ranch, PO Box 297, Clovis NM 88101.