Shopiere couple says ‘happy trails’ to special collections
By Austin Montgomery
Beloit Daily News
BELOIT, Wis. — The Stateline Area’s biggest Roy Rogers and Dale Evans fan is hanging up his cowboy boots and saying “happy trails” to his vast Western collection.
Richard McFall, a tall, kind-hearted jovial man, is preparing to see another portion of his large and valuable Western-themed collectibles ride off into the sunset at auction Oct. 28.
McFall and his wife Marian have lived their lives in the Midwest similarly to how the superstar Western couple did out in California: by adopting and fostering hundreds of children and by the word of God, looking to always help others.
Rogers was a singer and actor and one of the most popular American Western stars in the early years of Hollywood, appearing in over 100 films and TV programs. Dale Evans was also a singer and songwriter who later starred in films with Rogers. She also helped co-host the highly successful TV series The Roy Rogers Show.
The McFalls, who said they are now ready to move forward with the auction of Richard’s collection, live on a quiet over-30-acre plot of land in a beautiful farmhouse that sits adjacent to a building housing the memorabilia. The couple said they knew it was time for the auction because they are getting older and hope to send the items to new caring homes.
Richard McFall holds his Western-themed comic books at his home in Shopiere, Wis. McFall is preparing to auction off another portion of his large and valuable Western-themed collectibles on Oct. 28. Photo, Austin Montgomery/The Beloit Daily News
Richard spent years amassing collectibles from the Western stars throughout their lives, while Marian collected dolls that represented the various children that had come through their lives. But the McFalls, who both grew up together in large families, knew from the beginning they wanted to care for children.
Since 1960, the couple helped foster over 250 children in the Stateline Area, also adopting five children and having three biological children. The couple said it was wonderful always having kids around, helping them with school work and being a positive role model in their lives. Fostering children in the 1960s was a far cry from what it is today, with the pair recalling they would pay the kids to work on the farm, compared to today where the state pays the foster parents for care of the children. They have fostered actively from the 60s to the 90s.
They were able to meet Roy Rogers and Dale Evans during a visit to their California in the late 1990s.
“It was wonderful to meet them personally,” Marian said. “It was a privilege.”
Rogers and Evans were well-known for their adoptions and founders of multiple children’s charities. Both were outspoken Christians who were part of the Hollywood Christian Group that founded the Bel Air Church. Richard and Marian spent time on mission trips to North Dakota, Louisiana and even as far as England and South Africa.
Richard said his interest in “The Singing Cowboy” got started after his mother would only allow him to watch Rogers’ movies in his childhood.
“She would let me watch them because he wouldn’t kill anybody,” he said.
After meeting the stars in California, Richard said he was shocked at how personable they were.
“They were both down to earth, common people,” he said. “They lived frugally.”
After years of showing off his collection in a museum on their farm, Richard said he is ready to move on.
“It’s somewhat emotional on me,” he said of selling his collectibles. “But it’s nothing compared to when I sold my cows. These are just toys and there’s a difference in the emotional attachments.”
Marian said she hopes this year’s auction fares better than the last one in 2006. At that auction, the online portal crashed and some items failed to reach their value potential, she said.
With three auctioneers set to handle the upcoming auction, the couple says they’ve been told to expect upward of 500 people over the course of the event.
Items up for bids include original Roy Rogers comic books, signed holsters and cowboy hats, along with multiple Frederic Remington sculptures. Richard even managed to save collectible Western rings and even coffee mugs with Rogers’ likeness on them.
“I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink and my wife strongly suggested I leave wild women alone. So I had to have some vice,” Richard said of his collection when playfully teased by Marian.