Chris Van Horne, NBCDFW.com
Randy Rostetter and his steer Lone Star have been fixtiures in the Fort Worth Stockyards for years, but Rostetter was killed in a weekend car crash. (Photo courtesy David J. Roth)
Randy Rostetter, a Fort Worth Stockyards icon, died after he was struck in a suspected drunken-driving crash Sunday. He was 57.
Rostetter was a fixture around the Stockyards for the last 20 years. He spent the last decade roaming East Exchange Street with his longhorn steer, Lone Star, taking pictures with tourists for tip money.
"And the first thing they see is a guy standing in the middle of the street with a longhorn steer," Steve Murrin said. "And they think 'OK, this is Texas. This is what I was expecting to see.'"
Murrin allowed Rostetter to house Lone Star at his River Ranch facility just east of the Stockyards. He also gave him other opportunities to work on his private ranch in town.
Hub Baker, general manager of the Cowtown Coliseum, also helped Rostetter out over the years by letting him show off Lone Star on his property.
"Streets are lot emptier with Randy not around," Baker said. "He always spoke to everybody, he was always in a great mood, and he did a great job for us while he was here."
Baker described Rostetter as being a sincere man. But for all of his goodwill to those visiting the Stockyards, Rostetter lived a hard life.
Both Baker and Murrin said Rostetter served as the president of one of the local beef or cattle associations 25 to 30 years ago.
His life changed following a car crash in which he suffered a head injury. They said he went through numerous struggles on a personal and professional basis. Despite the ups and downs, he kept moving on, the said.
"My favorite story (about Randy) was how many times he came back from being a little bit down," Murrin said. "You know, he'd get down, but come on back, and the last five years, he'd been doing great."
The tips he made from pictures with tourists led to a decent living as he became known to some as simply "The Longhorn Guy."
"He'd been in every newspaper all over the world, and he always took care of the foreign press," Baker said. "You know, that's just the way he was. He promoted the Stockyards, but he just couldn't get to where he wanted to be. It was always a problem trying to get licensed properly and dealing with the city or insurance. Like I said, it's a sad thing. We're going to miss Randy."
Murrin said Rostetter had gone to grab a hamburger and was heading home at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday. A driver going north on North Main Street hit Rostetter when he was about 50 feet away from the Cowboy Inn, where he lived.
Francisco Bustamonte, 32, of Fort Worth, has been charged with intoxication manslaughter. Police said he crossed into the southbound lanes and onto the western sidewalk, hitting Rostetter. He then hit a light pole, which fell and killed Rostetter, according to Fort Worth police reports.
Bustamonte's vehicle then spun into the northbound lanes, where he was hit by Michael Hart, 21, of Azle. Police said Hart will face DWI charges.
Nick Patel, the manager of the Cowboy Inn, said Rostetter had lived there for the last 10 to 12 years. He had several pictures of a customer he called family.
The Stockyards family is still learning of Rostetter's tragic passing. Many people who work in or frequent the area had not heard of Rostetter's death as of Wednesday afternoon.
While funeral arrangements are still being sorted out, a celebration of Rostetter's life at the Cowtown Coliseum is being discussed.
His steer, Lone Star, is being well taken care of. Murrin plans on taking Lone Star to his property, where he can live out his days spending time with other steers and out of the public eye.
"[I'm] probably going to haul him out to the ranch, let him find a couple of girlfriends, boyfriends and let him be happy out there in the pasture," he said. "Well, he's got a few miles on him. He's gotten kind of scrawny lately, but he'll be happy out there."
He said he thinks it's something Rostetter would be happy with, too.
"Randy would like to be out there with him," Murrin said. "I think, he probably is a little bit. In fact, if they do his ashes, we'll sprinkle some of them out there, too."
Baker said they will bury Rostetter and put some of his ashes in the arena at the Cowtown Coliseum.
While other cattlemen may try to take Rostetter's place on East Exchange, those who knew him best say they won't be easy boots to fill.
"There won't be anyone like old Randy. No one can grow a mustache that long," Murrin said with a laugh.
Rostetter is survived by a son who lives in North Carolina and a sister in Kansas.