George Williams, WNFR Saddle Bronc Rider, Rodeo Judge, Passes Away

George Williams, who qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in saddle bronc riding in 1961, 1963 and 1964, passed away on Nov. 27, 2023, at age 91, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Williams finished 10th in the world standings in 1961 and 1964 and 11th in 1963. He placed in four NFR rounds in his career, including taking second in Round 4 and Round 5 in 1964.

Born in Amarillo, Texas, May 7, 1932, Williams was raised in Tulsa, Okla., where he got his start rodeoing at competitions held by the Tulsa Mounted Troops. An avid reader of Will James’ books, he badly wanted to be a bronc rider and was already at work breaking horses for pay – earning $10 per head for putting 30 days riding on each mount.

Williams joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1949 and was a PRCA Gold Card member. Back when rodeo judges were elected by contestants, he was selected to judge Denver, Cheyenne and the NFR.

He was elected to two terms as saddle bronc riding director on the RCA board and later served on the NFR Commission. While on the PRCA Board of Directors as the Saddle Bronc Riding Director, Williams Introduced and it became a rule to announce scores at the rodeo and it also came into law to use the 1-25 marking system.

Williams also was the editor of the Rodeo Sports News (1965-1966) and subsequently served as associate editor of Persimmon Hill magazine and publisher of The Wild Bunch at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Williams was noted for his world brainstorming during his competitive days. He was among the first American cowboys to compete in Australia, winning in Queensland in 1958. He also won saddle bronc riding events in Mexico City (1957), and Havana, Cuba, (1958). He was the all-around champion in Fukuoka, Japan in 1962 and competed in the Wild West Show at the Brussels (Belgium) World’s Fair in 1958. He made treks to Europe and Japan with the legendary Casey Tibbs.

Williams was involved with the establishment of the Rodeo Historical Society and helped increase its membership during its early years. In 1981, he was named Rodeo Man of the Year.

In 2008, he was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.

Courtesy of PRCA

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