by ProRodeo.com | Aug 14, 2014
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Cecil Jones, who lived a long life dedicated to the sport of rodeo, passed away Thursday at the Western Slope Health Center in Placerville, Calif. He was 97.
Jones, born in Menan, Idaho, was a longtime resident of northern California and greatly influenced the sport he loved.
Jones was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2000, and had been the Hall of Fame’s oldest living member. He was praised at length during last weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, for his decades of involvement with the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward, Calif., one of the 2014 inductees.
Jones was the secretary at the first National Finals Rodeo, in 1959, and coordinated the Grand National in San Francisco for 33 years. He helped organize the California Six-Pac Rodeos, and was president of the Rowell Ranch Rodeo for 25 years.
The arena at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo, located 30 minutes east of San Francisco, was named after Jones in 2010. It was in 1938 that Jones met Harry Rowell, who started the rodeo on his own land in 1921, and their great friendship lasted until Rowell’s death in 1969.
“Cecil’s life was committed to this rodeo, and to rodeo in general,” said Janet Lemmons, a member of the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Board of Directors. “He’s the one that kept our rodeo going. He has such a love and a passion for the Rowell Ranch Rodeo.”
Jones is also the former owner of Rowell’s Saddlery, located adjacent to the rodeo grounds, having bought it from Harry Rowell. Jones sold the business to his daughter, Teri, who later sold it in 1983 to Lemmons, the current proprietor.
Jones’ rodeo career began at age 17, when he chose to earn $1 per ride rather than pick potatoes. He was a bareback rider, saddle bronc rider and bull rider, and he went on to compete at some of rodeo’s most famous venues, including New York’s Madison Square Garden, the World’s Fair Rodeo in San Francisco and the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia, where he won the all-around championship.
Serving in the military during World War II interrupted Jones’ career, but at its conclusion, he organized the All G.I. Rodeo in the Meiji (Japan) Olympic Stadium in 1945 during the American occupation.
Four years later, he retired as a contestant, but not from the sport he was so passionate about.
Details about Jones’ memorial service will be posted on www.prorodeo.com when they become available.
Courtesy of PRCA