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Rodeo legend & APHA Hall of Fame member Cotton Rosser dies

Rodeo legend Cotton Rosser of Marysville, California, died June 22 at age 93.

Originally a rodeo competitor, Cotton found a flair for promotion and founded Flying U Rodeo Company in the 1950s; the company is a top rodeo contractor and has produced rodeos in California for more than 60 years. Loud colored Paint Horses were a hallmark of his events, and Cotton could often be found on the backs of his prized tobianos and toveros.

Cotton and the Flying U Rodeo Company were profiled in the Fall 016 Chrome:

Like P.T. Barnum in a crisp straw hat, Cotton Rosser is the ringleader. At 87, he moves a little slower than his younger years—he last jumped out of an airplane at 84—but two legs astride a stalwart tovero put the cowboy in command, where he eschews a cumbersome metal walker for a well-worn set of leather reins. Pedestrians part for the pink-chapped patriarch, as he flits from the bucking chutes to the arena entrance, trailers and back, stopping every few steps for firm handshakes and hellos exchanged with everyone from bull riders to photographers to fans.

“How’re you, son? Are you riding today?” he asks passing competitors. Everybody knows Cotton, and Cotton knows everybody.

The horseman’s been running the show since 1956 after a ranching equipment accident fractured his own accomplished pro rodeo career. Not long after, he was the proud owner of Western store Cotton’s Cowboy Corral and a partner on the newly acquired Flying U Rodeo Company. By 1957, Flying U went from stock contactor to producing the whole shebang, and the rest is history—recorded in the archives of countless halls of fame.

“Best thing to ever happen to me was that post hole digger; that accident changed my whole life,” Cotton said.

Also in 2016, Cotton was inducted into the APHA Hall of Fame. He’s been in the ProRodeo Hall of Face since 1995 and in 2019 was named a Legend of ProRodeo.

“It means a lot that I can leave it to the family to keep going. I just wish them luck; everybody I know has gone broke in this business, but somehow we’ve hung on,” Cotton said in the 2016 Chrome article. “In fact, I’m the richest guy in the whole world. I’ve got a million dollars worth of friends and a million dollars worth of memories.”

“For decades Cotton Rosser has been a legend in the sport of rodeo. His name is synonymous with the great family entertainment of the Flying U, but beyond the well known exterior was a man that loved his animals, his family and entertaining generations of families and creating memories that will last them a lifetime,” the Flying U Rodeo Company wrote on Facebook.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Cotton’s memory to The Cotton Rosser Rodeo Complex at Cal Poly, The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, or Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture Cotton Rosser Bronze Project in Marysville, California.


Read More: legacy.com/news/celebrity-deaths/cotton-rosser-1928-2022-rodeo-legend/


[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]


About APHA

The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.