Cleveland, Oklahoma is normally a pretty quiet place, but this December the small town became a little more rowdy when everybody’s favorite uncle, Si Robertson from A&E’s hit reality show Duck Dynasty, paid a visit.
“I love coming up here. I love the state of Oklahoma,” Si said.
He has actually been spotted hanging around Cleveland a few times this year and there’s a reason behind his visits.
Si is what he calls a “goodwill ambassador” for Eagle Infrastructure Services, a pipeline company headquartered in Cleveland. He’s buddies with the owners and goes to different events to support the company. His most recent trip to Oklahoma was for Eagle’s pipeliner Christmas party, but he made a lot of other stops along the way.
He surprised children during the Cleveland Police Department’s Shop with a Cop event earlier this month. For Duck Dynasty fans, visiting with “Uncle Si” might be better than meeting Santa.
“Anything with kids and cops, but especially kids,” Si said. “I told them kids 'cops are your friends, do not be scared of them.'”
He also made the drive north through Osage County’s tallgrass prairie.
“I loved the variety of the terrain of Oklahoma. I didn't know y'all had that many hills and that many ravines, all this stuff, so it’s pretty cool,” said Si.
He stopped by the Pioneer’s Woman Mercantile and the Ben Johnson Museum in Pawhuska.
“Ben Johnson is one of my heroes, OK,” said Si. “He don't look like he's acting. Well, come to find out, he's not acting. This is a real cowboy and they're just filming him being himself.
Which is actually a lot like Uncle Si— with him, what you see is what you get. He’s definitely acting.
“I'm living proof that God Almighty is alive and well. I didn't go to USC in California and take drama class and arts and all this for 8 years, OK.' God just gave the Robertson family a TV show, said Si. “And changed my life, yeah. Made it better than what it would have been on my own, for sure.”
But it didn't change him. His celebrity status has never gone to his head. He makes a point of carving out time to visit and take pictures with kids, cops and fans and it’s usually with his famous cup of iced tea in hand.
“People thought this was a prop,” Si said pointing to his tea. “Nah. I said, 'Hey, look before Duck Dynasty was even a thought in somebody's head, I've been carrying this thing and that.' I said, 'This thing was sent to me by mother when I was in Vietnam, inside a cowboy boot with two jars of jalapeno peppers, about 10 cans of pork and beans and five or six cans of spam.”
Si could tell stories for days. It’s his gift, it just took 65 years and a reality TV show for him to see it.
“My teachers and mentors from childhood, they'd say, ‘Si Robertson, you need to find something that you're good at and then give it your all.’ Then [someone at an event] asked me a question on the stage one day, 'Well what are you good at?' Well, I'm 65 years old and I haven't found nothing I'm good at. Then I laughed and said all you people out there, there was about 10,000 out there, I said, all you people finally told me what I'm good at. I'm good at making people laugh and make them forget their problems of the day. And that's His doing.”
His 11 seasons on Duck Dynasty also strengthened his faith.
“My faith that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are alive and well and they're doing the most amazing things with the most unlikely people that you have ever run into in your life-- that would be the Robertson family,” he said.
It has been four years since the reality show ended and while Uncle Si does not make duck calls anymore, he does still hunt and fish. Although he made it very clear he would not be hitting the water to go noodling with News On 6’s Tess Maune anytime soon.
“Nah, noodling, nuh-uh, I'm out. This kid at noodling nothing. Unless it's chicken noodle soup,” Si said.. “I'm not gonna stick my hand up in a hole ‘cause in Louisiana there's cottonmouths, gators, loggerhead turtles. Nah. No way. So my hat is off to you, young lady, for noodling,” Si said while tipping his hat to Tess.
You can hear more of Si’s stories in his new podcast, Duck Call Room, which is recorded in the duck call room at the Buck Commander headquarters.