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2014 Hall of Fame Inductee
Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders aka "Mama Sugar"

Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders, affectionately known around the Rodeo and Trail Ride circuit to all as "Mama Sugar" was born June 6, 1939 to the late Lillie Mae Glenn and Reverend Ellis Haddie Whitaker. She grew up in the Upshaw/County Line Community in Douglas, Texas. She was raised by her Uncle Deffie Whitaker and Aunt Vada Yabrough who taught her everything about the country life. After graduating from C.L. Simmon High School in Cushing, Texas she moved to Nacogdoches, Texas. There she worked at Mrs. Grant"s Boarding House where she was taught how to cook. At the age of 19 she met and married Lonnie Earl Sanders and moved to Houston, Texas to get away from the country life. She gave birth to five daughters and soon found herself raising them alone in the big city. After several years of struggling in 1978 she met Myrtis Dightman, the first African American inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. He introduced the girls to rodeoing at the Diamond L. Ranch where they were trained to compete by Mark Hatfield and Ted Hightower. This put her back in the country life style that she left behind.

In the early 80"s Mama Sugar found herself raising another daughter. She then met Ron "Sugar" Mitchell who owned the Sugar Shack Disco Club in Arcola, Texas. From 1981 to 1988 the Sugar Shack became a hangout for African American Cowboys and other cultures. She conducted country western dance classes and introduced many African Americans in Houston and surrounding areas to country western dancing. In 1981 she founded The Sugar Shack Trailblazers with 2 men and 6 women. They became registered under Southwestern Trail Riders Association as a family oriented group. Mama Sugar became one of our top Black History Educators of the Western Culture. Before her sickness you could find Mama Sugar extremely busy during the month of February giving lectures about the western culture throughout the Houston and Fort Bend Independent School Districts. At the age of 75 she continues to dedicate her time and energies during the year volunteering for activities that include entertainment of youth and senior citizens. She also helps Mollie Stevenson, owner of the American Cowboy Museum, with many Black Heritage projects year-round.

Mama Sugar has received many outstanding honors and awards throughout the community as well as resolutions from the State of Texas and Fort Bend County as being Outstanding Community Leader. These honors include recognition as "A Living Legend" from the Black Heritage Committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998 and the Black Professional Cowboys and Cowgirls Association in 2002. She received an award in 1995 as being one of Houston"s Top Twenty Women of Distinction. She"s the mother of the Southwestern Trail Riders Association where she has taught many how to survive on a little of nothing, how to keep warm around a camp fire and how good a meal can be from an open fire. Her great cooking has lead to an article in the June 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine where she receives outstanding recognition about her Juneteenth Celebration and showcases her recipes. One of her most recent and greatest accomplishment in 2013 was being an Honoree at Foodways Texas Barbecue Symposium for her famous country style cooking and outstanding recipes. There she received a Lifetime Achievement Award and great recognition from some of Texas finest restaurant owners for her cooking skills. Her recipes can be found in the local libraries in the Texas Cooking Cook Books. Mama Sugar believes that in order to be a GREAT cook your first ingredient is LOVE. If you are not preparing to cook with LOVE then you are not preparing to cook a GREAT meal.

Mama Sugar is a beautiful Black God fearing woman who loves her family and friends. She continues to mentor, lead and encourage everyone to do their best. Her induction into the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum is a great honor to everyone. She is very deserving of this honor and her great works, accomplishments and outstanding efforts to keep the western heritage alive can be remembered by all.

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