John William “Billy” Bode, 91, of El Campo, passed away March 12, 2021. He was born July 30, 1929 in Rural Mill Creek in Washington County, Texas, the youngest of six children to the late Oscar Bode Sr. and Edna (Dietz) Bode.
What can be said about a legendary cattleman … he started buying and trading cattle along side his Dad at a young age. He mastered the auctioneer chant while working at local auction rings. After graduating in 1947, from Brenham High School, he got his first auctioneering job at Hockley Livestock. Soon after he began at Sealy and LaGrange.
In 1949, he met Toni Regenbrecht, his wife to be, while riding bulls at the Burton Rodeo where he furnished the bucking stock. They married in Brenham May 11, 1950.
Billy and his brother Oscar Jr. bought El Campo Livestock Commission in 1955. The Bode Brothers enlarged this facility to hold 4,000 head and added an air-conditioned sales arena to seat 300 people. In 1960, Oscar Jr. bought Brenham Livestock leaving El Campo Livestock Commission for Billy and Toni to own and operate for 46 years. It was sold in 2001, shortly after Toni’s death.
He ran crossbred cattle with Charolais bulls and started the Walking 6 Cattle Co. Through the years he had many great partners. In 1984, Billy was awarded the Outstanding Cattle Producer for the county. While serving as President of the Texas Livestock Auction Association, Billy and Ace Reid presented President Lyndon B. Johnson with a handmade saddle in the White House. At the Houston Livestock Show, the American International Charolais Association named him the American Breeder of the Year. In addition to raising cattle, the Bodes raised race horses. They raced in Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Louisiana and California. They earned the title of Owner of the Year at Delta Downs, La. and Sam Houston Race Park multiple times.
For over 65 years, Billy encouraged and supported the youth with their 4-H and FFA projects. He volunteered his auctioneering service to fryer shows, county fairs, church picnics and civic fundraisers throughout the Gulf Coast. In 1989, Wharton County Youth Fair dedicated the fair to him. The Rotary Club and El Campo FFA made him an honorary member.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing with family and friends. Later in life he became quite the poker player. Throughout all the livestock auctions, farm equipment sales, cattle working, casino trips and poker games he will always be remembered as Mr. Bode, Billy, Pop, Daddy and Paw Paw, but not as John.
Billy was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Toni Bode and his older siblings and their spouses.
Survivors include his daughters, Mitzi Schmidt and husband Rick of El Campo and Cherie Weishuhn and husband Chad of Ganado; sons, Michael Bode of El Campo and Kelly Bode and wife Brenda of El Campo; grandchildren, Justin Clark, Toni Cash, Tamara Schmidt, Tate Schmidt, Shannon Unsicker and Katie Bode; great-grandchildren Zachary Clark, Camden Cash, Kennedy Cash, Cannon Schmidt and with one more on the way.
Visitation will be 2 - 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 17 at Triska Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 18 at Christ Lutheran Church with the Rev. Wayne Clement officiating. Burial will be private.
Masks will be required.
Pallbearers will be Tate Schmidt, Justin Clark, Ewald Friedrichs Jr., John Ashcraft, Mondo Perez, Terry Smith, and Lane Foltyn.
Honorary pallbearers will be Gerald Foltyn, Dr. Charles Graham, Alan Fitzgerald, Pepper Friedrichs and his poker buddies.
Memorial donations in memory of John W. “Billy” Bode may be made to the Wharton County Youth Fair or Christ Lutheran Church.
Condolences may be shared online at www.triskafuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Triska Funeral Home, El Campo.