Related Pages
Longhorn Photos
Tia Ko
The Memory Park Longhorn
The Texas Longhorn has a long and illustrious history in our fine state, and now this distinctive animal has a special place in Memory Park, thanks to a cow lovin’ lady from Sweden and her “anything-for-my-lady” loving husband.
     Lake Conroe Rotarian Christina Rathbun has loved cows for as long as she can remember. That love only grew when she became a Texas 25+ years ago. Christina was a long time resident of Galveston, where she was an executive with a large law firm and president of The Rotary Club of Galveston. Shortly after marrying handsome Mr. Bill, the couple made their way to Montgomery County and their new home in Walden and what a blessing that move has been for MC Rotarians and the community. Christina and Bill fit right in, immediately getting involved in community service work and The RC of Lake Conroe. When we began the development of Memory Park in 2008, Christina and Bill were among the first donors.
    In 2012, Bill approached us at a dinner party with a casual comment - “How would you feel about adding a Longhorn in Memory Park?” We must admit that we were a little taken aback at first, trying to get the visual in our minds, but landscape visionary Peter Wakefield was in attendance and didn’t hesitate for a moment to respond “Brilliant idea, Mate”.
    And so, a few months later, she arrived. Yes, SHE. This is a Longhorn cow, not a Longhorn bull or steer. Landscaper Chris Wakefield and crew oversaw the placement of our new girl in the Rain Garden on the east side of the park, just off the trail leading to Fernland Historical Park.
     Rain Gardens are landscaped areas that are planted with natural vegetation that soaks up rainfall. The Rain Garden fills with a few inches of rainwater after a storm and allows the water to slowly infiltrate into the soil, protecting the area below from runoff water that could harm that landscape. During heavy rains, this area in the park produces significant amounts of runoff. When the land slopes as it does there, the majority of this runoff water would flow towards the lower landscape. The runoff can cause damage to the landscape and in Memory Park  it could fill the pond with sediment and other pollutants.
     By using indigenous plants, valuable habitat is also created for a variety of wildlife, including songbirds and butterflies. The low-maintenance and diverse beauty of native plants is an added bonus. This made the Rain Garden a perfect home for our Longhorn; she looks like she’s out in a pasture, right at home on a Texas Ranch.
     Chris and his men built a rustic platform of stone, cactus and prairie flowers for her. This makes her more visible in the spring when the wild flowers are allowed to grow tall in the Rain Garden, and also to protect young visitors from her horns (and to discourage those same little ones from hanging from her horns or sitting on her – parents, take note please!).
     We loved her from the beginning, except the tan color she was painted looked fine in the shop, but not so wonderful in the pasture, where the bright sun made her look Bevo Orange – fine for UT, not so great for Memory Park. Enter our then maintenance Co-Chairs Michael McBride and Wally Lockey who saved the day. She’s been repainted and looks oh-so stunning and at home now. (Who knew these Rotarians were so talented? Thank you gentlemen! ). Michael surprised Christina and Bill by branding her with a brand he created for them – an interlocking “BCR” on her right hip.
    We had only one problem after all this hard work - She needed a name! So we had a contest and with the help of the CB Stewart Library, set up a box in the library for the contestants to submit their entries. The finalists were:
      “Rose Jubilee” submitted by Samantha Barnett of Montgomery, from the name of the Longhorn in Old Yeller, Old Rose, and Jubilee from Shadow Jubilee who holds the record of the longhorn with the longest horns.
     “SID” as an acronym for strong, intelligent and deadly, submitted by Nikki Vaca of Montgomery.
     “Frontier Belle” submitted by Charles B. Stewart Head Librarian Beverly Christopher, because of the importance of the Longhorns on the frontier, and the females were the belles of the heard.
     “Fernie Dee Longhorn” submitted by Lois Jean McKinney of Montgomery, because “my dog takes me walking in Memory Park all the time, and the cow looks like she is looking out from Fernland Park. Dee as her second name because you HAVE to have two names to be a Texan girl” – we think so too Lois.
     “Tia” submitted by Casey Clark because “It’s the best name ever – dah!” We’re sure everyone out there with a Tia (aunt) they love agrees.
      “Lola The Learning Longhorn” submitted by Charline Lee of Montgomery, as homage to the famous song that says “whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”. Charline believes that if people want to learn, they just need to take advantage of the library adjacent to Memory Park to get what they want. Good thought process Charline.
     “Ko” submitted by RCLC President Mark Stevens. Ko is Swedish for cow, very appropriate because Christina Rathbun is, you guessed it, Swedish.
      “Noble”, to be pronounced “No-Bull” since our Longhorn is a lady, and is also very regal and noble. This entry was submitted by Lioness Pat Martin, wife of Rotarian Richard Martin.
     And last, but certainly not least, “Mabel” submitted by 9 year old Meredith Rathmann of Tomball and her mom Melissa. Mabel is the name of the Longhorn is Meredith’s favorite book.
      The Rathbuns had a really tough time narrowing the entries down to these 9, and an even more difficult time picking a winner, but they did, and the results are that now....
         Royalty resides in Memory Park! The name chosen was “Tia Ko”. Tia, we have learned, is not only Spanish for “aunt”, but it is “princess” in Egyptian. Montgomery Middle School student Casey Clark submitted the name “Tia” for the Longhorn, in honor of his big sister Tia, who was given that name because of its Egyptian translation. Longhorn donors Bill and Christina Rathbun also have strong ties to Egypt, so Christina was thrilled to learn of this connection to the name she had picked.
    The Longhorn’s 2nd name, Ko, was submitted by RCLC President Mark Stevens. Ko means “cow” in Sweden, Christina’s native country. Christina was delighted that her friend Mark had entered this name, as the pick was made blind, with Christina and Bill having no idea who the contest entrants were.
    Casey was unable to attend the RCLC breakfast for the announcement, as he had a final that morning, so his sister Tia stood in for him. Also in attendance were finalists Beverly Christopher and Samantha Barnett (along with her husband Jeff and daughter Vannessa), and, of course, President Mark. RCLC, The Memory Park Committee and the Rathbun’s thank everyone who submitted an entry for this contest, and we hope Tia Ko will provide many years of enjoyment for park visitors.