In 1884 the sport of Rodeo was born in Arizona's Rim Country and has never missed a year since that time. Some of the world's most famous cowboys and cowgirls got their start at the Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.
Gila County was also known for being a pretty rough area and because it was so isolated, some of the most deadly outlaws would hold up in this area to hide from would-be pursuers.
Check out one of Gila County's finest Famous Cowboys:
Leroy Tucker was born in 1928 to Roy and Georgia Tucker at their Frying Pan Ranch in the Greenback Valley of Arizona. Leroy literally grew up on the back of a horse learning the art of the cowboy in a country so rough that a cow could take a bad step and fall out of a pasture. As soon as Leroy could crawl onto the back of a cow pony, he was called on to help move the Frying Pan sale-cattle from Greenback to the rails at Birch, near Globe where they were loaded on the train. This was no small chore as the drives lasted for seven days.
His ranching responsibilities doubled at the end of 1951 when his father, Roy, died of a heart attack. Leroy took over the cattle operations and soon began to buy out his mother's interest in the ranch. Family duties and ranch work kept him from a full-time rodeo career; still, Leroy was a consistent winner at Payson, Globe, Springerville, Casa Grande, St. Johns, and other nearby towns. According to an article printed in the Globe/Miami Times when he passed away recently, Leroy won his first saddle at Tonto Basin in 1950 at the arena behind the Punkin Center Store. He stayed consistent with winning for several years and in 1957 was named the Arizona Rodeo Association’s All-Around Champion. The following year Leroy was the Champion Calf Roper at the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo in Houston, TX where his check was a whopping $4,068.00! Because of his talents and wisdom in so many areas, Leroy was honored by being named to the Payson Rodeo’s Ring of Honor and as Pioneer Stockman of the Arizona National Livestock Show. Leroy held the office of President of the Gila County Cattle Growers Association and for eleven years he was the Sale Chairman of the Annual Yearling Sale. He served on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, and the Advisory Boards of both the ASCS and United States Forest Service where he was instrumental in developing a cost share program on government lands, giving Gila County ranchers a lifeline in tough times.
Are you a history fanatic? Learn more Gila County history at www.discovergilacounty.com/history
Resource: Globe Miami Times: The Passing of a Cattleman - https://www.globemiamitimes.com/the-passing-of-a-cattle-man-kendrick-leroy-tucker-july-1928-feb-2020/