By Ann Bleiker
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The 2019 ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees were announced on Monday, April 22 and will mark the 41st annual induction. A total of 12 will be inducted including three trailblazers representing the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
WPRA’s 2019 induction class is represented by a trio of WPRA World Champions. Two ladies, Jimmie Gibbs Munroe (1975) and Sammy Thurman Brackenbury (1965) earned titles in the WPRA’s premier event of barrel racing, while notable Florence Youree captured an All-Around Championship in 1966. Each one of these ladies has played an integral part in the history of barrel racing and the overall sport of rodeo. On the PRCA side inductees include 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 time (1998-2000) Bareback Horse of the Yaer Commotion, one of the greatest bucking horses of all time that bucked under the Beutler and Gaylord Rodeo Company.
In addition to the 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.
While Jimmie Gibbs Munroe initially made a name for herself in the rodeo arena winning a world title in 1975 her love and commitment to the Association has cemented her legacy in the sport. Munroe, a Texas native-born in Waco and currently residing in Valley Mills, entered her first horse show at three, her first rodeo at ten, and had a rodeo career that included three WPRA world titles (barrels, all-around, tie-down roping-all in 1975), 11 trips to the National Finals Rodeo on three different horses, a two-time NIRA National Champion Barrel Racer and an NIRA National Champion All-Around Cowgirl.
“This is just great news. What an incredible honor this is,” said Munroe, when she learned of her induction. “I was there two years ago to see the first class of WPRA members inducted and was so excited then. I remember being at the very first ProRodeo Hall of Fame induction in 1979 and how neat it was to have a place to preserve the history. I remember thinking and hoping that one day the women of the WPRA would be honored, so now to be getting inducted is exciting and truly an honor.”
A true all-around cowgirl, Munroe competed in barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a bachelor’s degree in education in which she has used not only as a leader of the Association but in conducting horsemanship and barrel racing clinics worldwide, including Australia, Brazil, Canada and of course the United States. 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.
In 1980, she married Dan O. “Bud” Munroe a 12-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 1986 saddle bronc riding world champion. The couple has one daughter Tassie Munroe, who works for the Justin Boot Company.
In 1990, Munroe was named the Coca-Cola “Woman of the Year in Professional Rodeo,” in 1996 was awarded the Tad Lucas Award by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, in 1999 was named the Pioneer Woman of the WPRA and in 2008 was named a Distinguished Alumni of Sam Houston State University. She has been inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame(1992), the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame (1997), the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2003) and in 2016 was inducted with her husband in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. She now joins her husband, who was inducted in 2007, into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame,
Sammy Thurman 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. She was the first to hold barrel racing clinics beginning in 1965 through 1975 averaging 1,000 students a year for ten years. When Brackenbury first started competing, many barrel racers used the same hand for the whole pattern, never switching hands. She taught all of her students to use the right hand for their right hand turn, then explained they should switch their reins to their left hand before making their left hand turn. She credits her father Sam Fancher for many of her training techniques. During her time protective boots were unheard of and barrel racers didn’t boot their horses up to prevent over reaching. Her great horse Ugh had an over reaching problem, so she began inventing boots and that led to run down boots, skid boots and bell boots that have worked wonders for many barrel racers and their equine partner.
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.
Brackenbury became one of the first women to rope in an RCA rodeo when her father Sam entered the team roping at the Santa Maria Rodeo and his partner didn’t make it. She was entered in the barrel race, so her father called the RCA and changed his team roping partner to Sammy. While her father was a nervous wreck, his daughter handled it like a pro. Bill Linderman gave her permission to rope at any RCA rodeos she wanted. In addition to Santa Maria, she was one of the first women to rope at the famed California Rodeo Salinas, where she placed second in a round.
Living out West, she got involved in the motion picture business and in the late 1950’s starred in Horse of the West. She would leave the motion picture business while pursuing her rodeo career but would return when she married a top Hollywood Stuntman/2nd Unit Director Bill Burton. This led to numerous screen credits that included Comes a Horseman doubling for Jane Fonda, Walking Tall doubling for Linda Evans, Misery doubling for Kathy Bates and Nine to Five doubling for Dolly Parton. A member of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio, she was a prestigious charter member of the United Stuntwomen’s Association.
There is not a more deserving individual to be the first notable inducted under the WPRA umbrella into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame than Florence (Price) Youree. While Youree, wasn’t a founding member of the association (1948) it didn’t take her long to join (1951) and she hit the ground running both inside and outside the arena.
“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 ever happened and it couldn’t get bigger than that but I guess I was wrong. I never dreamed of this. I am just thankful to all who have worked so hard through the years to keep the dream alive that we had at the beginning.”
On the competitive side, Youree was among the top 15 a total of 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 into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. 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. She first presented the idea to the RCA Board in Denver where it was favorably received but was left up to the powers to be in Oklahoma City. By spring of 1967, Youree had lined up a meeting with the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce manager Stanley Draper, who was also favorable. One final meeting in the summer of 1967 with Senator Clem McSpadden, the general manager of the NFR, would seal the deal and the rest is history. The committee added $1,000 and in return Youree agreed that the top 15 would help promote the event by riding in the downtown parade, selling tickets, carrying flags and helping in the rodeo office.
Youree was fortunate to have competed at the NFR in 1967 and her legacy has been passed down to her family with daughter Renee Youree-Ward making the NFR in 1985, granddaughter Janae Ward-Massey in 2001-2003 and won the WPRA World title in 2003, and another granddaughter Kylie Ward Weast qualified in 2018.
Youree and her husband, Dale, produced GRA All Girl rodeos and served as a catalyst to restart them when they were diminishing in the mid-1960’s. The couple also hosted barrel racing camps for years, trained many future WPRA World Champions and started the Oklahoma Youth Rodeo Association. They also started the Barrel Futurities of America (BFA) that changed the landscape of the sport of barrel racing and Youree served as their president for 18 years. The BFA Finals will celebrate 34 years in 2019 and for years was the second highest ranked barrel race behind the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Full information on the PRCA inductees can be found at www.prorodeo.com.
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame, which is a popular Colorado Springs attraction for rodeo fans and tourists alike, will have inducted 277 people, 30 rodeo committees and 35 animals with the class of 2019. The 2019 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Inductions will take place at 10 a.m. MT on Aug. 3, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Editor's Note: The information enclosed in this release is courtesy of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) for media use. However, if you reprint any of the following information verbatim in your publication, or if you read it verbatim on a radio broadcast, please mention that the information is courtesy of the WPRA.