Maui's Rose Freitas will be honored by the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Texas
WAILUKU » Rose Cambra Freitas said she and her daughter wanted to provide a western activity for the youth of Maui when they began the "Maui All-Girls and Junior Boys And Girls Rodeo" in 1974.
"My family all love the rodeo. It's our way of life," she said. "It teaches them discipline and sportsmanship."
Because of her efforts, Freitas will become the first woman from Hawaii to be inducted in the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, this fall.
Some inducted in the past include Annie Oakley, Dale Evans and Sacagawea.
Freitas, 74, a rancher and still a rodeo competitor, is being inducted with four others, including the late Esther Morris, who successfully fought for women's right to vote in the Wyoming Territory in 1869.
The museum plans to fly Freitas to Texas in October for the induction ceremonies.
Museum curator Tricia Taylor Dixon said Freitas' lifetime of achievements demonstrates the pioneering spirit of a cowgirl.
"She's just a great promoter of the cowgirl spirit and western lifestyle," Dixon said.
Besides ranching with her husband Raymond for more than 40 years, Freitas has competed in a number of senior rodeos.
She's received honors, such as being a six-time world qualifier on Maui for the Hawaii National Barrel Horse Association.
Freitas also has worked as a volunteer with Haleakala National Park and gone on service trips to clean the cabins in the crater.
Dixon said Freitas' selection will help people understand the role Hawaii has played in promoting western living.
One of the youths who was involved at a young age in the Maui rodeo started by the Freitases is professional bull rider Myron Duarte.
Duarte, who competed as a young teenager on Maui, is ranked among the elite in the Professional Bull Riders Inc. circuit.
Freitas comes from a long line of equestrians, including her Portuguese immigrant great-grandfather Jose Franciso De Cambra, who worked at a sugar plantation in East Maui.
Her grandfather Joseph De Cambra worked at the Cornwall Ranch, now known as Kaonoulu Ranch, and her father, Louis De Cambra, rode a horse as a plantation supervisor for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.
She and her husband, Raymond, 80, operated a ranch for more than 40 years, and now, her daughter Sharon, who came up with the idea for the Maui All Girls and Junior Boys Rodeo, has taken over the ranch operation and become a top rodeo competitor.
Freitas recalled life as tough but full of enjoyment during the early plantation years with her family of 11 brothers and sisters.
She would cut grass in the fields and pick kiawe beans to sell to the plantation for cattle feed.
She helped her mother make clothing from emptied bags of cotton, rice, and flour and she embroidered dish towels from emptied cement bags brought home by her father.
Some of the embroidered dish towels went into her hope chest.
Each year now, as an expression of gratitude for her western life, she spends months making her own costume from store-bought cloth for the Fourth of July paniolo parade in Makawao Town.
One year, she came as Dolly Parton, and another as Annie Oakley.
This year, she wore a "Statue of Liberty" costume.
"I feel so happy I can come out and add to the parade," she said. "It gives me a sense of pleasure to ride a horse and be in a costume made by myself."