A beloved member of the community and polo legend, Stephen (Steve) M. Gose, passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, surrounded by his family and wife Margaret (Marty). A member of the United States Polo Association for 60 years, Mr. Gose was a life-long lover of horses and polo, building one of the most renowned polo clubs in the world, the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Born February 3, 1930, Steve was raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, born into a family of oilmen. Deciding to pursue the same career path, Steve studied economics and geology while attending the University of Texas. Introduced to Marty through a Kappa Sigma fraternity brother, the pair married in 1950 prior to the rise of his polo career in the early 1960s. A horse enthusiast all his life, Steve was introduced to polo through his father-in-law, Thomas Watson Hastey, who learned to play the game as an officer in the Army during cavalry training. Hastey retired from the Air Force as a Colonel and he along with his son, Tom Hastey Jr., both introduced Steve to the game for the first time in San Antonio. “The first season, my father was not allowed to play with shoes on his horses,” Tom Gose said of his grandfather’s rule. “The second year, Colonel Tom put on front shoes only – his way of teaching my father how to stop straight and maintain control.”
Surrounded by greats playing their green horses in the winter such as Cecil Smith, Harold and Joe Barry, Ray Harrington and Rube Williams among others, Steve had the opportunity to play in 30-goal practices as a 0-goal player. Steve founded and built the Retama Polo Center in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the club becoming officially affiliated with the Association in 1983. “One of my first experiences with Steve was when we were riding at Retama Polo Center and at the time there were only two polo fields and a dirt hill,” Memo Gracida recalled. “He looked over and said, ‘wouldn’t it be great to buy that piece of land and build polo fields?’ In a week’s time the fence dividing the two properties came down and he started construction on one of the biggest polo clubs in history.” Growing to 16 polo fields with a grandstand atop the hill for viewing of Fields 1 and 2, Retama Polo Center became a haven for many of the top players in the world through the 1980s. “Steve and Marty made Retama [Polo Center] work because they opened their hearts and their home to everyone,” Jimmy Newman commented.
Steve played his first tournament, the Chairman’s Cup (12-goal), in Midland, Texas, with his son Tom, alongside Memo and Carlos Gracida in 1978. Winning the final, Steve predicted during the trophy presentation that one day the same team would win the Open together. Raised to an 18-goal team in two years, the four players continued to improve and won the Open four years later (1984) as a 26-goal team. “He was instrumental in making my brother Carlos and myself the polo players that we were,” Memo Gracida said. “When I started working for him I was 6 goals and he made me into 10 goals. He supported me by lending me horses, organization, and sent me to Argentina to play in the Argentine Open.”
Referred to as the ‘eternal optimist’ by his son Tom, Steve carried his positivity into every situation, inspiring others to reach for their dreams. “He was such a loyal, supportive and optimistic person,” Gracida recalled in agreement. “Going into the last chukker of a game losing by five goals, we were thinking the worst. Steve would say, ‘come on Memo, we can do it, I know we can do it!’ and sure enough we won those games and it was thanks to Steve. He never gave up and he gave us positive reinforcement, allowing us do things that were unbelievable and incredible.”
Making the Cup of the Americas possible after a 10-year hiatus, Steve financially backed the United States team, allowing them to compete in November 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The following year the Argentine team was hosted at Gose’s Retama Polo Center.
His numerous polo accomplishments include four U.S. Open Polo Championship® wins in 1977, 1979, 1982, and 1984 with Retama Polo Team at Oak Brook Polo Club and Retama Polo Club; two consecutive USPA Gold Cup® wins in 1979 and 1980 with Retama Polo Team at Palm Beach; and three Silver Cup® wins in 1980, 1981 and 1984 with Retama Polo Team. Also, traveling internationally to Sydney, Australia, Steve accompanied by his son Tom, Joe Barry and Memo Gracida won the Easter International for the Morton Cup and the Easter International, both in 1981.
In 1981, the USPA honored him with the Hugo Dalmar Trophy, which is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies characteristics of sportsmanship inherent to the sport of polo. He also served on the USPA Board of Governors from 1973-1989 and was a former Southwestern Circuit Governor.
Steve was inducted into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in on February 7, 1997. Owning a multitude of fine polo horses throughout his career, Gose’s grey gelding Alabama, played by Joe Barry, was inducted to the Hall of Fame on February 21, 2003. Alabama was noted for winning the Willis L. Hartman Trophy, earning Best Playing Pony honors in the 1977 and 1979 U.S. Open Polo Championships.
“My dad did not follow anyone else’s path through his life, rather he made his own unique way through every situation he came upon,” Tom Gose revealed. “He was honest and straightforward in all his dealings and he always preferred a handshake to a contract. His best gift in life above all others was his faith; faith in God, faith in his fellow man, and faith in all his business dealings. Although he will be sorely missed, I believe he has moved on to the perfect place, where his faith, optimism, love of polo, fly fishing and people will carry on.”
Steve is survived by Marty, his loving wife of 69 years; his three children, Stephen III (Matt) and his wife Leigh; Thomas and his wife Martha; and Martha and her husband Chris; his grandchildren Stephen IV, Marianna, Phillip, Thomas, Katherine (Kate), Clair, Chris and Amanda; and great-grandchildren Frankie, Grady, Hastey, Brevin, Laurel, James, Mila, Jack and Julia.
Steve’s funeral will be held this Thursday, September 19, at 11:00am CDT at Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home in Wichita Falls, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Steve’s name to the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation. Steve’s family is forever grateful for the extraordinary care and love the St. Vincent nurses and doctors showed during Steve’s lifetime.
St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation
1106 N. 30th Street
Billings, Montana 59101
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