Roger Elder

Roger Elder

AQHA sends condolences to the family and friends of Tennessee horseman Roger Elder, who died January 19.

A man in a cowboy hat looks into the camera.

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Roger Dale Elder, 71, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on January 19, 2021. He was born on November 3, 1949, in Byrdstown, Tennessee, to Dale and Ovella Elder.

Elder was a cowboy. Easy to smile and quick with a joke or a story, his life was patchworked with tales of road life adventures, cowboy escapades, a matchless work ethic, deep devotion to children and horses, an uncanny ability to fix anything with hay string and he could teach anyone to two-step. 

If you knew Elder, you knew the love of his life, Sandra. Theirs was a love that could write a thousand songs, and they shared a life full of family and horses. They loved life together – from rodeo bible camps to covered arenas, they took on projects that meant a lot to them and would mean a lot to everyone else in their lives. They were partners in every sense of the word. 

He rode through life on a horse, tractor or down the highway behind the wheel of a truck. With the road always in front of him and his family square in his heart, Elder understood what it would take to make his family’s dreams come true. His family was big and included generations of kids and boarders at the Elder’s Last Lap Ranch, hundreds of 4-H’ers and American Quarter Horse Association members, industry friends and colleagues, and his own cherished family. In short, he gave a helluva lot more than he got. But he would tell you differently; he would say that his life was rich with the joy of helping others, the love of family and earnest appreciation of endless possibilities. He was surrounded by friends that had the common goal of helping people find the love of horses, but more importantly, showed them what that love would bring back to them tenfold. He was a business owner of Elder’s Last Lap Ranch and Double R Sales and Associates. He volunteered his time to ensure the future of the industry to which he was so devoted. He was an AQHA director, judge, breeder, steward, the AQHA Youth Committee Activities chairman, and he sat on two Tennessee Governor’s commissions for horse racing and animal welfare.  

He was always proud of his family. Whether it was watching his grandson’s baseball or football games, going to a horse show with his daughter, talking to his son about horse racing or simply sitting around the table, Elder loved and was very proud of each one.

Elder is survived by his wife, Sandra Elder; his son, John Elder, and his wife, Julie, and their children, Ty and Will; his daughter, Sarah Elder Chabot, and her husband, Andy Chabot; and his brother, Doug Elder, and his wife, Rhonda.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to American Quarter Horse Foundation at www.aqha.com/give or the Roger and Sandra Elder 4-H Horse Endowment For Blount County. Donations can be made online by visiting the www.tn4hfoundation.org/donate in memory of Roger Elder or checks can be written to the Tennessee 4-H Foundation and note the endowment.  

A Celebration of Life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, for an outdoor service at Grandview Pavilion, 2304 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, TN 37803. Masks are requested and cowboy hats are welcome.