Randall Lyman Severe, 70, returned home to Heavenly Father on Sunday, November 21, 2021, in Portland Oregon, surrounded by his family. Randy was born to wonderful parents, Bill and Delores Severe on November 3, 1951, at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton Oregon. His admiration and love for his parents helped mold him into who he became.
He was the oldest of 7 sons and enjoyed spending time working with them on the farm. He credits his parents for much of the good in his life and for teaching him how to work hard, love everyone, be compassionate, and serve others. They gave him the foundation that served him well and in which he lived throughout his entire life.
As a child, Dad spent much of his time on the farm helping his dad. There was never a dull moment. Between animals to feed, cows to milk, hay to haul, horses to ride, and places to explore, it was a young boy’s paradise and a great place to grow up. This is where he learned how to work hard following in the footsteps of his own parents.
He learned responsibly quickly knowing he wouldn’t get fed until all the animals were fed first. Many of his experiences came on the back of a horse. He loved to explore the countryside as a boy. It was evident at a young age, that Dad had a passion for horses.
When dad grew up, if you owned horses, you had to be a cowboy. His father, Bill, would start young colts and when dad was old enough, he was the one who would climb on their back to make sure they didn’t buck. Dad said you learned really quickly to stay on because it hurt getting off.
He continued his learning from teachers and others as he furthered his schooling at Pendleton High School where he was introduced to many good friends. In fact, one of his good friends shared a story with me the other day.
He said, one morning on the way to school, dad killed a rattlesnake and just tossed it in the back of the truck. At the time, there was an A&W drive-in and he and his buddies thought it would be fun to have a little laugh. So after school, they headed down to the local A&W drive-in, and after finishing their meal, the young lady roller-skated out to put the tray on the side of the car where they could all lay their lunch wrappers and one of them took that dead rattlesnake and coiled it up on the window tray.
The young lady roller-skated back out and picked up the tray and roller-skated back up to the window. She went to throwing those hamburger wrappers away and that dead rattlesnake was laying there on the tray. That waitress threw that snake up in the air while she fell over backward and that snake landed right on top of her. They got the biggest laugh out of that, but, they weren’t allowed to eat at the A&W anymore. Dad was always finding ways to get a good laugh.
He had great teachers who helped inspire and encourage him to pursue a college degree where he spent a year at Blue Mountain Community College studying Veterinary Medicine. Due to the lack of funding, he had to put his education on hold and go to work.
Dad’s work ethic followed him to Arizona, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon where he spent time gathering cows and starting colts, always making it back to Pendleton in the fall for the Pendleton Round-Up. Working on these ranches was great preparation for making saddle gear. It helped dad to understand and realize the stress and strain that goes on a saddle.
Dad’s reputation of hard work and gentle nature with horses started to gain attention and brought him to train, exercise, and start race horses for clients at the Portland Meadows race track.
This is where dad met mom. Dad had a good friend who worked with him at the race track and they decided they would go on a double date. So they each brought their girlfriends to the race track. Well, turned out that dad decided his friends’ date was really attractive and fun and he wanted to get to know her a little better. Mom recalls dad being very handsome, fun and full of surprises.
She said she remembers his smile, he had a smile that she just couldn’t get enough of. (And most people who knew dad always talked about his smile). Mom remembers dad was very spontaneous and would pull her behind the tack shed when no one was looking to swap a little kiss without his friend knowing. Mom also fell in love with his voice as he sang old ballads while strumming his guitar. After a 2 year courtship, he decided it was time to make it permanent. Mom and Dad were married December 29, 1974.
A year later in 1975, Jodi, the first of 5 children, was welcomed into their lives. Followed by 2 sons, Jarad and Ryan, and 2 daughters, Darci and Darla, to complete his little family. His pride and joy were his kids. He loved us, taught us, and enjoyed spending time with each one of us.
Now that Dad had a family to take care of, it was time to settle down. He apprenticed under his Uncle Duff in the saddle shop doing leatherwork since 1975. Duff told him he wouldn’t take on an apprentice or teach anyone until they were married because he believed single guys would run off to the next rodeo and skip work for two weeks. He wanted to make sure you were not going anywhere.
After apprenticing for 2 years under Duff, Dad became a full-time saddle-maker. He had a gift of turning an old dead cow, into something remarkable. Dad’s natural talent and craftsmanship in leather was recognized early on by Duff and knew Dad would hold up the Severe reputation.
When working on President Ford’s son’s saddle, dad said, “I figure I should make this one as good as I can. But then I figure I should make every saddle as good as I can make it.” Dad lived by what he said as he tried to make each saddle better than the last.
Dad’s remarkable work and reputation as a saddle-maker and artist has garnered praise throughout the world and rodeo arena, as Severe saddles were deemed the “Cadillac” of all saddles. Dad took pride in each saddle he made. Over a 45 year career, he’s carefully crafted and molded 532 saddles.
Growing up dad was a great example to all of us. He taught us how to work hard, how to be honest, how to serve, and how to respect others. Dad believed in a firm but loving hand. And you knew if you were in trouble and you also knew what was coming next. Being in the leather business, there were no shortages of belts laying around. Needless to say, we learned very quickly it was just better to be good.
One time Ryan thought he’d outsmart dad and put a book down his pants to soften the sting. Well that didn’t work very good… as soon as he bent over to grab his ankles, that book became obvious and dad just aimed a little lower and missed the book. Then afterwards, dad would sit down next to you, put his arm around you and lovingly tell you not to do it again.
As we grew older, and dad noticed we could outrun him, he changed our punishment and found chores for us to do. Between digging post holes, spreading manure, changing water pipes, and picking rocks, all my siblings remember chopping thistles as the worst punishment. See my dad was pretty smart. We chopped thistles til we had calluses on our hands.
If I remember right, it seemed like Jodi (older sister) was the one who took out a pretty good swath of thistles every year, so we appreciate her for that. But no matter how hard we worked to get rid of those thistles, each year those darn thistles would grow back and get thicker. Dad never told us the purple flowers on top were seeds because he needed a job for us to do the next summer.
When Dad no longer had kids to chop thistles, he went out and spent a few hours on the tractor mowing those thistles down, something that took us all summer to do. Looking back we realize it was dad teaching us some very valuable lessons that molded us into who we are today.
Growing up we didn’t have a lot. We didn’t go on a lot of vacations, we didn’t drive the nice cars, we didn’t wear the nicest clothes, in fact, none of us even owned a saddle. We had to borrow saddles to ride our horses or we went bareback. And although we didn’t have a lot, not one of us can remember EVER thinking we needed anything.
Dad was not rich with worldly possessions. His wealth was his family. This is what truly brought him joy. Dad gave our family something more precious than anything worldly. And it was evident when dad was in the hospital.
The Dr’s couldn’t believe when they saw all 5 kids fighting for a spot to be the next one to stay with their dad by his bedside. In all their years of medicine, they’d never seen anything like it. The love that was displayed towards dad was so apparent that all the Dr’s and hospital staff wanted to know who this man was. They could see he was not just an “ordinary” man.
Dad also had a love of music given to him by his parents. He took his passion for music and handed it down to us kids. We started a little family band. My sisters played the fiddle, yodeled and sang along with our grandma, I played the base guitar, dad played the guitar, and my brother was the sound man.
We played music all over growing up. We played on Main Street during Round-Up, fairs across the state, talent shows, local gatherings, weddings, funerals, you name it. Dad thoroughly enjoyed playing music and singing. And it didn’t stop there.
If you ever went up to the saddle shop, you might hear him picking the ole bonnie guitar while his voice echoed the lyrics to some of his old favorite ballads. Dad loved sharing his talent with others and would always bring a smile to your face. He had a voice that warmed the soul and a laugh that was unforgettable.
Dad loved to play pranks as we’ve heard. One of his biggest laughs that we will always remember was from his pet mongoose that was handed down to him from his dad. I can’t tell you the number of stories and laughs that mongoose gave my dad over the years. I can still hear his laugh echo when he used it on my mother-in-law. She will never forget meeting Randy Severe for the first time. Dad would tell us story after story of grown men having to change their pants after meeting the mongoose.
Dad was very talented in many things. One of his many talents besides leatherwork and music was making people feel special and seeing the best in them. When meeting dad for the first time, you felt like you knew him your whole life. This has become more and more evident as friends and acquaintances have shared countless stories with us regarding dad and his genuine kindness and love for everyone.
All my siblings and I grew up playing sports and other activities. We all remember dad being there at our sporting events. He was proud of our accomplishments. He was very supportive and showed extreme interest in whatever we wanted to pursue.
From 4-H shows, to wrestling tournaments, to track events, dad was always there as our biggest cheerleader, no matter the sacrifice. He genuinely cared and wanted us to do our best. He saw the best in each of us and encouraged us to become better. It’s who he was as a person.
Dad was always involved in the community and with the Pendleton Round-Up in some way or another. Whether it was making trophy saddles, working in the arena, or participating in Happy Canyon, it was a big part of his life.
He was a Round-Up director for 8 years and then served as the President of the Pendleton Round-Up for 2 years during the centennial. He enjoyed his service there, made a lot of friends, and was proud to be an ambassador for the Pendleton Round-Up. I’m sure the directors who served with dad can tell countless stories of him.
Dad was also a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He loved serving the Lord and enjoyed his various callings throughout the years.
Growing up Dad was our scout leader. We had some pretty good campouts with dad. He was so handy with all his knot tying. If you ever needed a special knot tied in a rope, you called dad. He just knew how to do everything.
I was reminded of a time as scouts we were all rafting down the snake river and the first day on the trip, one of our rafts lost the main air plug that held the air in. So Dad’s bright idea was to make a wood plug. So he whittled out a wood plug that fit that hole just perfectly so we could finish our trip. He knew how to fix everything. It didn’t matter what it was either, he knew how to fix it.
Last year, Kade, one of his grandsons had a big commercial lawnmower. We tried to get it to run for 2 days and it wouldn’t start. Changed all the filters, new gas, spark plugs, everything. The starter was changed the year before so it was brand new. We spent hours trying to diagnose the problem and was to the point of now calling a professional.
Dad just happen to be visiting for the weekend and so I asked him to take a look at it. He simply lifted up the hood, looked at the engine and said, “oh yea, this is one of those… where the spring just gets stuck. All you have to do is tap here and it will start right up. Then he just looked at me and smiled.” I just looked at him extremely puzzled and in disbelief. Then said, “Are you serious?! That’s it?” Sure enough, tapped it a few times and she fired right up. That’s just who dad was. He could fix anything.
We learned a lot from dad while growing up and a lot of it was through his example. One of the most profound examples we recall is how he treated our mother. Oh how he loved our mother. She was his everything.
Once in a while, we’d catch him whispering sweet messages in her ear and she would just smile, then giggle, and say, “OH Randy.” I’m sure we can all guess what that meant. He treated her with respect. She was his queen. Mom said that every day he’d tell her he loved her and it always showed in his actions. She meant the world to him.
Dad lived life to the fullest. He had an infectious smile, a big heart, and a laugh that lifted the soul. He was a great example to all. He was kind and saw the best in everyone. He had no enemies.
When you met him for the first time, you felt you knew him your whole life. He loved everyone and was loved by all who knew him. He was a friend, a brother, a father, a husband and a grandfather. He will truly be missed.
How grateful we are for the tender mercies the Lord gave to each of us as we watched our dad pass to the other side. A week before his passing, each of us had a chance to be with dad and experience something remarkable. We will cherish those experiences forever.
We know the Lord lives and loves each of his children. If we look close enough, we can see the Lords hand in all things. We’ve seen his hand through these experiences and we’re grateful for the knowledge that we will all be together again.
We love you Dad… Ride on Cowboy…