ProRodeo Hall of Fame announces 2019 inducteesAshley Affleck-Johnson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Commotion, one of the greatest bucking horses of all time, highlights a star-studded, 12-member class that will be enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 3.
“I think this is great,” said stock contractor Bennie Beutler. “With Commotion, he either bucked them off or they would win first on him. He was one of the horses who liked to buck, and he never had a bad day.”
The rest of the 2019 ProRodeo Hall of Fame class that was announced Monday consists of stock contractors Elra Beutler and his son, Jiggs; four-time world champion team roping heeler Allen Bach (1979, 1990, 1995, 2006); two-time world champion steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch (2006, 2010); world champion bull rider Doug “Droopy” Brown (1969); world champion bareback rider Larry Peabody (1984); notable Jerome Robinson; the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede Rodeo; contract personnel Tommy Lucia; and three Women’s Professional Rodeo Association inductees – barrel racers Jimmie Munroe and Sammy Thurman Brackenberry and notable Florence Youree.
In addition to the 13 inductees, Guy Elliott, a former arena director for the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and countless others, will receive the Ken Stemler Pioneer Award, which honors individuals in recognition of their groundbreaking, innovative ideas and forward thinking.
Commotion passed away Sept. 7, 2016, at the Beutler & Son ranch near Elk City, Okla. He was 25.
Commotion, a 1,300-pound bay stallion, who stood at 16.1 hands, was voted the top bareback horse at his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 1997. He went on to win the next three Bareback Riding Horse of the Year awards, 1998-2000, when he was part of the Beutler and Gaylord Rodeo Company string. He made 10 consecutive trips (1997-2006) to the Wrangler NFR before retiring in his prime at the 2006 Wrangler NFR at the age of 15. Two rounds were won on him at the Wrangler NFR. Commotion has sired more than 70 horses who have gone on to compete at the Wrangler NFR. His daughter Killer Bee was named the Top Saddle Bronc at the Wrangler NFR in 2013 and 2014 and was runner up for Saddle Bronc of the Year in 2015. Another daughter of his is Wound Up, the 2016 Top Saddle Bronc at the Wrangler NFR and the 2017 Saddle Bronc of the Year.
“Besides him being such a great bucking horse for us, he was also a breeder, and that doesn’t happen very much,” Beutler said.
In August 2013, artist T.D. Kelsey’s larger-than-life-statue of Commotion was dedicated at the National Route 66 Museum Complex in Elk City, Okla. When Commotion wasn’t at rodeos, he lived at the Beutler’s Ranch in Elk City, and he was buried next to the statue.
“He was an outlaw,” Beutler said about Commotion. “We never did halter break him. He was very independent, and he strutted around like he was king of the road. After he was in bareback riding for seven or eight years, we put him one year in the bronc riding, and he was really good, but then we went back to bareback riding because that’s what he was best at. He just bucked hard every time, and cowboys were only able to ride him about half the time, and when he would buck somebody off, he would prance around the arena. He knew he was special.”
Elra Beutler & Jiggs Beutler – Stock Contractor
The Beutler name has been part of professional rodeo for decades, from the onset of Beutler Brothers Rodeo Co. in 1929 to the collaboration of Beutler & Son Rodeo Company.
Elra and his son, Jiggs, were some of the foremost rodeo promoters in the business.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than (Monday) was for us,” Bennie Beutler said. “They (Elra and Jiggs) worked rodeo all their lives and they put me into the (ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2010) and they should have gone in long before I ever did. They did a heck of a lot more than I ever did and had it a lot tougher. The rodeos we still have in this day and age, they are the ones who had them. The rodeo business has been very good to the Beutlers.”
Lynn Beutler, Elra’s brother, was inducted into the inaugural ProRodeo Hall of Fame class in 1979.
In 1954, Elra Beutler sold his interest in the livestock company to his brothers Jake and Lynn. A year later, Elra joined with Buster Morgan to form Beutler and Morgan Rodeo Producers. In 1959, Elra and Jiggs bought out Morgan and formed Beutler & Son Rodeo Co. Fast-forward to the present and Jiggs’ son, Bennie, and grandson, Rhett, operate Beutler & Son Rodeo Co.
Elra passed away in 1987 at the age of 90. Jiggs died in a tractor accident in 1980 at the age of 55.
Elra “Boss Man” Beutler was known to be an avid horseman and stockman. He served as the company’s pick-up man at the age of 65. He was selected to be a pick-up man at the inaugural National Finals Rodeo in 1959 and again in 1960. He was a veteran of World War I and was a catalyst in bringing modern professional rodeo into its maturity.
Jiggs was part of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He also served as a guard for Gen. George Patton and was awarded the Purple Heart. He competed in bareback riding and bull riding until his riding career ended following a severely broken arm.
Elra and Jiggs owned Old Spec, the curiously spotted, cross-bred Brahma bull that in 350 attempts, over a seven-year bucking career, allowed only seven riders to make qualifying rides. Old Spec was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979. Elra and Jiggs also owned the 1973 Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year, Sam Bass.
Allen Bach – Team roping heeler
Team roping heeler Allen Bach was one of the best in ProRodeo over four decades, highlighted by capturing world championships in 1979, 1990, 1995 and 2006.
Bach holds the PRCA record for most qualifications (including invitations) by a team roper to the National Finals Rodeo with 30 (1978-96, 1998-2008).
“I’m flattered, but does that mean I can’t try to make the NFR one more time?” Bach said Monday.
Bach also won NFR average titles in 1979 and 2006, roping with Jesse James and Chad Masters, respectively. In 1990 and ’95, Bach paired with Doyle Gellerman and Bobby Hurley.
In 2007, Bach became the 11th rodeo competitor to surpass $2 million in career earnings. Bach joined the PRCA in 1978.
Dean Gorsuch – Steer Wrestler
Dean Gorsuch, a steer wrestler with two world titles, eight qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, two Tour titles and $1.3 million in career earnings has certainly earned his spot in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
“Ever since I was little, I’d always dreamed of rodeoing for a living, making the Finals and being a world champ,” Gorsuch told ProRodeo Sports News in 2007. “My dream has always been to make the Finals, but the best thing was to walk into that building with my little boy and my wife. I’ve always wanted to do that as a family. It was fun to have (Taydon) there and to share it with them. It was pretty cool.”
The Nebraska cowboy started his PRCA career in 2002 and rapidly rose to ProRodeo stardom as he made his first Wrangler NFR qualification in 2005 and won his first world title in 2006. He went on to qualify again ever year from 2008 through 2013, picking up his second world title in 2010.
Gorsuch competed at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2005 and 2010 and was named Tour champion in 2006 and 2008.
Now, he can add Hall of Famer to the long list of victories he can share with his family.
Doug “Droopy” Brown – Bull Rider
Whether he believes it or not, Brown will soon be surrounded by the legends he’s always admired.
Brown won the 1969 bull riding world championship with $27,610. It was one of 13 total NFR qualifications – five in bull riding and eight in saddle bronc riding (though one year he did not compete due to injury).
All that success landed Brown a Hall of Fame selection.
“I’m having an exceptional day today,” said Brown, 73. “I guess it means that the 20-some years I put in on the road rodeoing did make a difference in other people’s lives and in my life. I’m glad other people noticed.”
Brown pointed out that on the 50th anniversary of his world championship, he’s headed to the Hall.
“It’s been 50 years,” he said. “It’s a huge surprise.”
Brown, of Silverton, Ore., will be inducted among some of his heroes.
“I’m a little overwhelmed because there are legends in there,” Brown said. “I think I was a good cowboy, but I was never a legend, so I’m very pleased.”
Larry Peabody – bareback rider
Peabody, a Montana native, made a steady climb in rodeo to his 1984 world title.
Within three years of becoming a member, Peabody had qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo. He went on to make five total, all consecutive, and crowned it with the 1984 bareback riding championship.
Peabody also won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association bareback riding title in 1981. He won the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit bareback riding year-end title four times, the circuit team roping title once and the all-around once.
In 1981, that first NFR trip, he set the NFR record with an 89-point ride on Growney’s Dreamboat Annie. He also split the NFR average in 1983 and finished the season in third place.
He edged fellow Hall of Famer Lewis Field for the 1984 title by $2,000. The race was so close it came down to the final round of the NFR. Even after he’d been declared the champ, it took a while for Peabody to truly believe it.
“I kept thinking they’d re-tally things and call me to say they’d made a mistake,” Peabody told ProRodeo Sports News in May 1985. “It wasn’t until Denver, when I got my (world champion) buckle, that I really believed I’d won.”
Jerome Robinson – Notable
Robinson was a cowboy with many hats – a contestant, contractor, event producer, contract personnel and member of the PRCA Board of Directors. With so many titles on his résumé, Robinson is being inducted to the HOF as a Notable, a word that summarizes his career.
“I was floored, to be truthful,” Robinson said. “It was completely unexpected knowing all the other people who put into this association. I’m completely humbled by it knowing the other people who have done a lot for this outfit.”
Robinson competed with the PRCA for 16 years, starting in 1967, and made 11 trips to the National Finals Rodeo (1970-75, ’77 and ’81). He mentored several PRCA world champion bull riders and many others involved with rodeo production.
Robinson was instrumental in creating PROCOM in 1975, a system still in use today for entering rodeos. This task, along with starting the Winston Tour, are what he considers to be his most difficult achievements.
“If we took notes, it would have crumbled around our ears,” Robinson laughed. “We could have written a book on all of that, but the roof would have caved in on us because there was so much touch and go. We worked unbelievable hours to keep both of those moving.”
He also played a role in bringing rodeo and Western experiences to France, Oman, Italy, Japan, Finland, Venezuela and Costa Rica. Of all his accomplishments, Robinson couldn’t pick a favorite.
“Serving on the board was definitely educational but just being involved in the lifestyle and the day-to-day of all of it,” Robinson said.
Cody Stampede Rodeo – Committee
Cody, Wyo., is often called the “Rodeo Capitol of the World” – and for good reason, as it’s home to the Cody Stampede Rodeo, which has attracted countless tourists to the small town just east of Yellowstone National Park since 1919.
Now in its centennial year, the Cody Stampede is being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
“It’s amazing and outstanding, and it’s not just this year’s board, it’s 100 years of boards,” said Michael Darby, co-president of the Cody Stampede Board,. “We were hoping it would be this year since this is our centennial. It’d be a good kickoff to our celebration.”
An induction into the HOF should come as no surprise for a town that was started by the American icon William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Buffalo Bill began as a rider for the Pony Express and went on to help settle the northwestern Rocky Mountain region and created the world-traveling “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” which taught the world about cowboy life during the late 1800s thanks in part to the sharp-shooting skills of Annie Oakley.
The Cody Stampede won the PRCA’s Best Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in 1998 and 1999, and its arena was where many legends of ProRodeo got their start, such as 1962 World Champion Bull Rider Freckles Brown, as well as rodeo cowboy and musician Chris LeDoux.
“It’s a great storied history that’s still going to this day,” Darby said.
Today, the Cody Stampede and the corresponding Xtreme Bulls event boast a combined payout in excess of $400,000 with big names in rodeo production, such as local cowboy and nine-time Bullfighter of the Year Dusty Tuckness, as well as four-time Announcer of the Year Boyd Polhamus. The rodeo also features some top-notch stock by working with three-time Stock Contractor of the Year Frontier Rodeo.
“It’s like a dream that’s come true and gives you a deeper appreciation for what’s been going on there the last 100 years,” Darby said. “It’s a great honor to be associated with the great names in rodeo.”
Tommy Lucia – Contract Personnel
Lucia was a three-time Wrangler NFR Specialty Act and three-time PRCA Specialty Act of the Year. For more than 50 years he worked as a barrelman and specialty act, entertaining at rodeos across the U.S. In 2010, he was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the National Cowboy Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Lucia will be inducted posthumously into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, having passed away June 1, 2016, on his 75th birthday.
His son, Anthony, is a ProRodeo announcer, trick rider and team roper. He said his dad was an amazing entertainer and inspired him to pursue a career in rodeo.
“My dad always said it wasn’t him getting the applause but his animals,” Anthony said.
Tommy Lucia’s popular acts included Glory, his swayback horse, and Whiplash, a monkey in cowboy attire who rode a dog.
“My dad’s goal was to bring out the best in every animal, and he felt like his calling from God was to use his gift of training animals to bring joy to people in the arena,” Anthony said.
Anthony said he became emotional when he found out his dad would join the 2019 class.
“Not only does this mean the world to me but also to my family – that the selection committee wanted to recognize my dad for his contributions,” he said. “My dad dedicated his life to bringing joy in the arena and providing for his family. It’s neat and special that his legacy will be forever enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame family. My dad would be smiling ear to ear … and I know he is right now.”
Jimmie Gibbs Munroe – Barrel Racer
While Munroe initially made a name for herself in the rodeo arena, winning a world title in 1975, her love and commitment to the association cemented her legacy in the sport.
“This is just great news,” Munroe said. “What an incredible honor this is. I was there two years ago to see the first class of WPRA members inducted and was so excited then.”
Munroe made 11 trips to the National Finals Rodeo on three different horses and was twice an NIRA National Champion Barrel Racer and once an NIRA National Champion All-Around Cowgirl.
Munroe served as president of the WPRA from 1978-1993 and again from 2011-12. During her first time as president she led the association in acquiring equal prize money, obtained national sponsors and advanced the use of electric timers and better arena conditions.
She joins her husband, Dan O. “Bud” Munroe, in the Hall of Fame. Bud Munroe, who was inducted in 2007, was a 12-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 1986 saddle bronc riding world champion.
Sammy Thurman Brackenbury – Barrel Racer
Brackenbury was also an all-around talent, even roping and winning money in PRCA rodeos. Brackenbury qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 11 consecutive times, winning the world title in 1965.
During her career she served as the California Circuit Director, All Events Director, Vice President of the Association and in 1975 served as the President of the Girl’s Rodeo Association.
Florence (Price) Youree – Notable
Youree is the first notable inducted under the WPRA umbrella into the Hall of Fame.
Youree was among the Top 15 six times and won the WPRA all-around title in 1966. But it was her services to the GRA/WPRA in an administrative capacity that landed her induction. Youree served the association as a director, then president from 1960-64 and then secretary-treasurer, where she made the biggest impact. It was during that time that Youree worked to get the barrel racing included at the National Finals Rodeo as it is today.
“I appreciate this so much,” Youree said. “I have loved and enjoyed everything I have ever done with the WPRA and still do. When I won my award (WPRA NFR Lifetime Achievement Award) in Las Vegas this past December, I thought that was the best thing that could have ever happened and it couldn’t get bigger than that, but I guess I was wrong.”
The WPRA contributed to this report.