Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018
Not every AQHA president gets an AQHA award named in their honor, but Gene Graves did.
Engaging members was Gene Graves’ No. 1 objective when he was elected the 63rd president of AQHA in 2012.
Gene was especially impressed with the 70-&-Over exhibitors who competed at the AQHA Select World Championship Show. Gene thought 70-&-Over exhibitors at the Select World deserved a special all-around-type award. So, at the 2012 Select World, AQHA presented the first Gene Graves Super-Select Special Recognition Award to the exhibitor, age 70 or older, who earned the greatest number of points in competition at the show.
While Gene was involved in many facets of the horse industry – from showing and ranching to breeding and racing – it was his love of the horse and commitment to improving the Association that led to him upper leadership positions at AQHA.
Raised on a farm outside of tiny Clarks, Nebraska, Gene graduated from Clarks High School in 1955 and got a degree in education from Midland College. In 1963, he married Barbara Bosselman of Grand Island.
Barbara’s father, Fred Bosselman, founded the Bosselman & Eaton truck stop and café. Eventually, Bosselman Truck Plazas spread throughout Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.
In 1975, Gene joined the business as president of the Pump & Pantry division, a line of convenience stores that serve communities throughout Nebraska. Under Gene’s leadership, the Pump & Pantry name grew to more than 30 stores.
The Graves family was on the AQHA circuit from the 1980s until Gene and Barbara took a break from showing when he went on the Executive Committee. Both of their children, Bryan and Cindy, showed growing up.
Gene and Barbara bred and raised foals on their farm, and they raised and raced a number of good Thoroughbreds.
From the beginning, though, Quarter Horses were their first love. Gene and Barbara were avid supporters of the development of the Select World and actively competed at the show from the beginning.
Gene lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in June 2013, just a few months after concluding his AQHA presidency. He and Barbara had been married for 50 years.