Even the greatest of all cowboys die.
We couldn’t believe our ears when the editor on the phone said Jim Shoulders had passed away. We try to keep up on news, but we didn’t hear about Shoulders’ death, June 20, until a week later. Either it wasn’t reported, or coverage was so poor we missed it.
When we did locate information, Shoulders was identified as “the Babe Ruth of rodeo.” It is an appropriate description, but Ruth’s death decades earlier received forefront news coverage instantly. There are many who don’t recognize the name Jim Shoulders, but most have seen him, even if they don’t initially remember.
Jim Shoulders won 16 world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association, including five all-around, seven bull riding and four bareback bronc riding world championship. He was runner-up champion 14
Many rodeo cowboys are never heard of after winning a championship, but Shoulders remained notorious all his life. He is best known for appearances with his tame bull, Buford, and other celebrities, in Miller Beer commercials for 15 years. Shoulders also
advertised Wrangler Jeans 59 years and did promotion work for Justin Boots.
After contesting, Shoulders was a rodeo stock contractor, with the best stock in the world. Shoulders initiated rodeo schools and conducted many on his Henryetta, Okla., ranch. A skilled roper, too, Shoulders team roped with his son, Marvin Paul
Shoulders, a National Finals Rodeo champion bull rider. A member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Jim Shoulders was honored similarly by a dozen other rodeo and sports groups.
Twice, we took photographs of Jim Shoulders, and we even got to visit with him and do a story. Once, he and Buford were in Manhattanfor the rodeo, and the other time he was at a farm sale near Wichita, where he bought a tractor.
Also the father of three daughters, Shoulders, 79, died of heart failure in his sleep at home with his wife of 60 years, Sharon. He was riding horseback recently on the ranch.
Certainly, Jim Shoulders was reliable and diverse, as in Colossians 1:10: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work.”
While Jim Shoulders’ successes were a delight, his death is quite sad. Yet, it is prophesized in the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purposes under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn
and a time to dance.”