Sculptor of Largest Boots in Texas Just Died. He Left His Mark in West Texas, Too


DEL RIO, TX — The day before Christmas Eve, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade died in Austin. A Texas artist of the late-1970s and 1980s cosmic cowboy counterculture, he sculpted iconic works of art around the state.

His most famous work is the 35-foot-tall and 30-feet-long cowboy boots that are seen from Loop 410 at San Antonio’s North Star Mall. The boots were constructed in 1979. According to, Wade’s commission for the boots was just $7,000 and they were made of salvage Wade collected. The boots took six weeks to make. The boots were originally built and displayed in an empty parking lot at a place called Tastemakers in Washington, D.C. The boots were given their permanent home at the mall in San Antonio just four months later.

The mall’s boots may overshadow the breadth of Wade’s work because not widely known is that he sculpted an iconic monument in Del Rio a short time later. Few may not remember the significance of the Largest Six-Shooter in Texas in downtown Del Rio.

About two years after the boots were constructed, in 1981, Wade made his way to Del Rio. According to Gary Humphreys, the founder and owner of Humphreys Gun Shop, Wade was in Del Rio to give a talk on his iconic cowboy boots and, by then, his recently completed large Iguana sculpture when he was approached by several Del Rioans about creating the largest six-shooter in Texas. The lot to the side of the gun shop in downtown Del Rio seemed to be the most appropriate location. After all, the property also had the base of an old sign that already had bolts mounted into the concrete slab. It would be an easy project, Wade thought.

Wade asked Humphreys for permission to build the gun. Humphreys gladly approved.

The Six-Shooter has weathered the changing times, from the end of the cowboy counterculture, the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, and the increased federal scrutiny of gun ownership in America. According to Humphreys, the Six-Shooter has been featured in Texas Sculptures, USA Today, Time Magazine, Texas Monthly, Tom Brokaw’s Nightly News, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Cynthia McFadden's ABC News, the G. Gorden Liddy radio talk show, in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and a few others.

Humphreys said the Six-Shooter was featured in so many news outlets because of its visibility when traveling to the federal courthouse in Del Rio.

“The media were following a case filed here in Del Rio against the federal government over the Brady Bill,” Humphreys said. The Brady Bill was a law named after Reagan’s press secretary who was permanently disabled by the assassin’s bullets meant for the president on March 30, 1981.

“The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. We won the case and it ended there. The Six-Shooter remains a landmark here in Del Rio,” he said.

The Brady Bill mandated federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States, and imposed a five-day waiting period on purchases, until an instant background check system was implemented in 1998. But before the instant background check system was implemented by the feds, then-Val Verde County Sheriff J.R. Koog sued the federal government because he argued the bill was unconstitutional. Del Rio is the Val Verde County seat and also has a large federal courthouse there, a part of the Western Texas Federal District Court.

Specifically, Koog’s case argued and the Supreme Court agreed, “We conclude that by imposing these duties [of background checks prior to each firearms purchase] on local officials whose offices and duties are defined by state statutes, Congress has transgressed the Tenth Amendment principle that it may not ‘commandeer the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.’”

The federal case was filed in 1993. By 1996 when the case was settled, Koog had already retired. Koog died in 2001.

The Six-Shooter that all those reporters saw on the way to cover the biggest gun rights federal case in history is still located at Humphrey's Gun Shop, 124 E. Garfield St., Del Rio. It’s on the west side Garfield St., between Pecan and S. Main Sts, next to the Firehouse Arts Center downtown.

The Six-Shooter that Wade built used a 55-gallon drum for the cylinder, a stove pipe for the barrel, and stucco for the pearl handle, according to RoadSideAmerica.

"I just kinda winged it," Wade told RoadSideAmerica a few years ago.

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