Here comes Memorial Day, and it has us all thinking about special rodeo-family friends who’ve headed to Heaven in the last year. So many of us are missing Ellensburg’s Jerry Anderson—a kind-hearted cowboy of countless friends, and “Grandpa Jerry” to roping’s Minor brothers. Riley and Brady were the twinkles in Jerry’s eyes, and Riley winning the 12-slide buckle at his grandpa’s first-ever memorial roping was divinely-scripted perfection.
“This is by far the best buckle I’ve ever won,” Riley said of his sentimental 12-slide prize won with Calgary Smith at the May 14 Jerry Anderson Memorial Roping in Ellensburg. “He was the greatest grandpa ever, and it was so cool to win his roping and keep this buckle in the family. He’d give you the shirt off his back, and helped Brady and I with horses and everything else.
“Grandpa Jerry took us to Arizona in the wintertime when we were kids and our parents (Brent and Mary Minor) had to stay home in Ellensburg to work. I started going to Arizona in the wintertime when I was just a little guy, and lived a lot of the time with my grandparents (Jerry and his late wife, Janis, who was Mary’s mom). We were all pretty close.”
Jerry, who passed away on November 11, 2021 of pancreatic cancer at 87, meant so much to so many. The 1953 Ellensburg High grad got his college education at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and roped calves and bulldogged as a young man. Jerry also served his country in the National Guard.
A Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association gold card member, Jerry was quite proud to be a pivotal player in getting team roping added to the Ellensburg Rodeo, and with equal money, no less. Jerry mentored many learning the team roping and calf roping ropes over the years, and was a sincerely kind and generous man.
“Jerry and Janis started taking Brady and Riley to Arizona in the wintertime when Brady was 5 and Riley was 2,” Mary Minor remembers of her sons’ childhood; and they’re still snowbirds. “They always made sure to have the boys’ ponies in the trailer. Jerry never tired of watching them rope, and was overjoyed when Riley and Brady won our hometown Ellensburg Rodeo in 2018.”
The Jerry Anderson Memorial Roping featured the 12 slide, in which Brady and Jack Fischer, and Riley and Smith were the first and second high teams.
“We basically started the day with the slide to get the steers ready for the other roping, which was a #10,” said Riley, who provided half the steers; the other half belonged to friend Cody Stoltman, who owns the Flying S Arena where the roping was held. “We gave saddles to the high-point over-50 roper and the high-point 5-and-under roper, because Grandpa always liked to help the lower-numbered ropers. It was their day in his honor, because that’s how he would have wanted it.”
It was fun for all to see family friends win the saddles. Jim Falon won the over-50 saddle, and Clayton Frohman won the 5-and-under Cactus Saddlery saddle.
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“It was a great day of roping, and people we haven’t seen in years who don’t even rope showed up in Grandpa’s honor,” Riley said. “Nobody loved roping and rodeo more than Jerry Anderson. He was our greatest supporter, and he loved watching us rope. I think the Cowboy Channel kept him alive the last six months.”
“What a blessing Jerry was to our entire family,” Mary Minor said. “There just are not enough adjectives to describe him as being a first-class man through and through. More people need to be like Jerry Anderson. I’ve always told Brady and Riley to always strive to be just like him.”