Dessie Sawyer

While Dessie Sawyer was National Democratic Committee Woman and New Mexico’s best-known political figure for years, she was first and foremost a rancher. She and her husband U.D. moved onto their ranch in 1928. With sheer determination and hard work, they paid off the mortgage on the ranch while the country struggled through the Depression. While her husband handled most of the ranch work, Sawyer handled the business end. But her daughter and fellow Cowgirl Honoree, Fern Sawyer, said, “She could ride a horse where I couldn’t begin to.” Oil was discovered on the ranch in the 1940s, forever changing the Sawyer family’s lives. Sawyer turned her attention to public service and charitable organizations, such as the March of Dimes. Sawyer’s work in the community led to her advocacy for Western life in politics. Becoming the National Committee Woman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, she worked for 26 years with several American presidents to promote the livelihood and wellbeing of those in her state.

1981 Cowgirl Honoree – New Mexico