By Jessica Hein, PHJ
APHA pillars Charlie Sasser and Virdin Royse are the newest recipients of the association’s distinguished service awards, presented in recognition of their lasting contributions to the Paint Horse community.
APHA Distinguished Service Award: Charlie Sasser
The APHA Distinguished Service Award will be presented on July 1 to Charlie Sasser, a lifetime APHA member, longtime state director and Paint promoter from Seguin, Texas. Charlie was active in APHA for more than 40 years; he became an APHA judge in 1977 and served on various advisory committees for APHA. Charlie helped fund his college tuition by breaking horses, and he continued training after graduation, balancing his horse endeavors with a 38-year career as a math teacher.
Charlie and wife Cathy married in 1989, and both enjoyed showing and breeding halter horses, as well as producing Paint events like the annual Margarita Classic show. The Sassers bred, trained and have shown a number of world champions, and Charlie was especially passionate about cultivating a love of Paints and APHA in Youth exhibitors. Charlie retired from judging in 2017 and was honored as a judge emeritus. He died in December 2020.
“Paint Horses were his life. Charlie took pride in the Amateurs and Youth; we never went anywhere where he didn’t try to bring more Youth into APHA. He believed in APHA and the family atmosphere and the kids,” Cathy said. “I’m extremely honored by this, and Charlie would be, too. I just wish he could have been here to see it.”
The APHA Hall of Fame & Awards Ceremony takes place July 1 at TX Whiskey Ranch in Fort Worth, Texas. Individual tickets and table reservations (seats 10) are available—don’t miss this night of camaraderie as we celebrate Garth and other award winners, including the 2022 APHA Hall of Fame Inductees, Distinguished Service Award winner, Don Manuello Ring Steward Award winner, Gregg Reisinger Paint Horse Breeder Legacy Award winner, Judge Emeritus recipients, Gold Star Clubs and President’s Clubs of Distinction winners, and more.
Paul Harber Distinguished Service Award: Virdin Royse
Paint racing’s Paul Harber Distinguished Service Award was presented to the late Virdin Royse at the APHA Racing Awards Banquet in early April 2022. A longtime APHA member and Paint racing promoter, Virdin left a lasting impact on the breed over four decades. He was co-owner of the great racing sire Easy Jet Too and bred more than 450 Paints over 25 years through his Royse R Ranch in Yukon, Oklahoma. Virdin served on the Racing Committee for 21 years and was a national director for 17 years, and also helped develop the Pot O’Gold Futurity, which is still running today. In 1999, Virdin was honored with APHA’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Racing Committee decided he was a fitting recipient for the racing-specific Paul Harber Distinguished Service Award this year in recognition of his dedication and lasting contributions to APHA’s racing programs. Virdin died in February 2007.
“Dad was a great example of the importance of creating a legacy in one’s family, as well as in this industry,” Virdin’s daughter, Janet Sherry, said during his Hall of Fame induction. “He was an example of respecting your peers and working together to build something greater than you initially set out to do and greater than your own personal interest.”