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Mother Lode Round-Up Awards

2016 Grand Marshal – Vern Gerdau

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse is please to honor Vern Gerdau the 2016 Honorary Town Marshal. Vern has remained a valuable hard working, active member for all 22 years of his membership.

Vern Gerdau was born in San Francisco on March 27, 1945 to Vern and Francis Gerdau. Vern also has a sister Barbara and a brother Ken who currently lives in Southern California. Vern went to San Carlos High School and married his wife Debie in 1977. Vern and Debie have a son, Bryan, who lives in Sonora with his wife Jenna. They are expecting their first son to be born in August.

Vern’s worked as a Sales Associate for Sears Roebuck in Mountain View for 24 years prior to moving to Tuolumne County. While living in Tuolumne County he worked in auto sales with Motherlode Motors retiring after a 17 year career with them.

Vern and Debie have always enjoyed their horses, spending many years riding the back country trails, camping, showing in halter, western pleasure and winning buckles in trail trials. Vern worked many ranches doing gathering and branding. He also enjoyed competing in team penning and sorting.

In 1994 Vern became a member of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse. During his years as a member he has held most offices and was Captain in 2001. Vern’s mother Frances was Round-up Mother of the Year in 2002.

During his 22 years with the Posse Vern has been a driving force in developing critical corporate and business partnerships with the Posse sponsors as well as always being there to answer the call anytime help was needed. He also established the cherished Sweet Heart of the Posse Award honoring the women of the Posse. His trusty horse Blue made countless Round-Up grand entry flag runs and has carried Vern thousands of miles on the trail.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse is blessed to have Vern Gerdau as a member and are very proud to honor him as the 2016 Round-Up Grand Marshal.

Top Hand Award – Kevin Day

Kevin Day is a member of the Tuolumne Band of Me Wuk Indians, he was born to Victor Day and Jeannette Bell and was raised in Tuolumne County with his three brothers: Greg, Ty and Kelly, and three sisters: Joy, Valerie and Gretchen. Kevin attended Summerville Elementary and Summerville High School, and football and baseball were a big part of his life. After high school, Kevin spent his early career working as a Correctional Officer for the State of California. More recently, he served two years as Vice-Chairman of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and was then elected as Tribal Chairman in 1996. This year marks Kevin’s 20th consecutive year as Tribal Chairman.

Kevin and his wife, Julie, have been married for 5 years and have a combined five children: Brady (22), Zach (27), Jake (25), Alex (18), and Madeline (17). He also enjoys spending time with his dogs Moose and Maverick.

Kevin currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Central California Tribal Chairman’s Association. His past achievements include memberships or participation of, The Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce, Mother Lode Fair Board, Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority Governing Board, Sierra Conservation Center Citizens Advisory Committee, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Advisory Board and The Tuolumne Me-Wuk Indian Health Board, as well as advocating for charitable causes across the Mother Lode.

We felt it was time to recognize Tribal Chairman Kevin Day for his steadfast support, selecting him as the recipient of our prestigious Top Hand buckle for the 2016, 59th Annual Motherlode Round-Up.

Mother of the Year – Maggie Whittman

The 2016 Mother Lode Roundup Mother of the Year is Maggi Wittman, who grew up about as western as can be imagined. Having legendary World Champion All Round Cowboy Casey Tibbs as your babysitter, Hall of Fame Stock Horse trainer Clyde Kennedy at your dad’s side in the hospital the night you were born and being taught to swing a rope by celebrated trick and fancy rope artist Monty Montana sure helped this cowgirl out.
Then at age six, after harassing her own pony to no end, famed western star, Joel McCrea gave Maggi her first horse because he thought she had the grit and determination to do something with the no account, half-thoroughbred filly. With a team like that behind you it hardly mattered that your dad was a rodeo clown and bull fighter, a future Cowboy Hall of Fame honoree and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee. Maggi’s dad also made a more comfortable living playing cowboys on the silver screen under the stage name of “Slim Pickens”.

Her mother, Margaret also brought along a little Wild West pedigree as a rancher that worked along side her grandfather as one of the last to run cows in Yosemite. Margaret, a rascal herself, enjoyed the challenge of roping young black bears from horseback and tossing a few firecrackers into the schoolhouse potbelly stove to liven things up. Margaret also loved horse racing, so it wasn’t surprising when her daughter said she was going to be the one to kick through the glass ceiling that said women couldn’t ride race horses.

Maggi fought the system and at age fifteen became the first licensed female jockey at many tracks around California and Nevada. Maggi’s love of horses lead her in many directions and she became an accomplished rider, showing hunters, jumpers and stock horses. Later she spent some time on the road as a professional barrel racer and then changed directions again riding Three Day Event horses. As an active member of the Pacific Coast Hunter and Jumper and Stock Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, United States Equestrian Federation, National Stock Horse Association and California State Horsemen’s Association she spent a lifetime raising and training State and World Champion horses. Maggi has owned many truly great horses. Many would call them, once-in-a-lifetime horses, but the one at the top of the list was the little half-thoroughbred mare Lumpkin, the one Joel McCrea gave her. Many of her riding students herald her as a great instructor but admit it was the life lessons she taught them that were so valuable and helped them throughout their lives.

Maggi met her husband Wes Wittman, a local veterinarian, while he was attending school at U.C. Davis and working summers for Dr. Lew Bergstrom. Wes and Maggi have spent their married life in Tuolumne County raising their son, posse member Dustin Lindley.
Over the years Maggi has been privileged to judge past queen contestants in horsemanship and personality for both the Mother Lode Round-Up and Oakdale Rodeo Queen contests. Maggi is a long time member and served on the board of the Twain Harte Horsemen, Sierra-Tuolumne Kennel Club and volunteered fifteen years as a 4-H leader and also as the 4-H Board Secretary. She is a member of the Women of the Moose, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America and the Golden Gate Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club where she serves as their corgi rescue chairman. Today, besides horseback riding on mountain trails, Maggi delights in raising and showing her champion Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Traveling all across the United States from Washington to New York, Maggi and her beloved corgis compete in American Kennel Club conformation, agility and obedience shows. She still enjoys the challenge and adventure, just on a shorter legged scale.

Maggi would like to thank all the Posse members and their hard working families for their dedication to the Mother Lode Round-Up and continuing the preservation of the western way of life. It is a great honor for this cowgirl to be chosen by the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse, as the 2016 Mother of the Year. God bless all you hard working mothers today and long live rodeo.