Born and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Jerry Anderson became a PRCA cowboy before team roping events were required in the lineup.
“It was kind of a hit-and-miss deal,” Anderson recalled. “Back in the mid-’50s and early ’60s, there might have been three or four rodeos a year in Washington and Oregon that even had team roping. They got more popular in the ’60s and ’70s.”
As a calf roper, Anderson remembers big wins at Puyallup in 1958 and 1965, and victorious go-rounds at Ellensburg, where he worked the chutes for multiple decades. Fellow PRCA cowboy and long-time friend Jack Wallace remembers Anderson’s devotion to the sport.
“We went to some rodeos and jackpotted together a lot,” Wallace stated. “He was very diligent and practiced a lot. He wasn’t a real natural, so he had to work real hard at everything he got, as far as winning and getting his roping perfected. But he was a really good instructor. He took a lot of time and made sure you did it right.”
For eight-time NFR-qualifier Riley Minor, that quality in Anderson has played a big role in the success he and his brother, Brady, have experience in the team roping arena.
“If it weren’t for my grandparents,” Riley said of his late grandmother, Janice—one of the original “Rodeo Grandmas” who received national acclaim in the 1990s—and her second husband (technically Minor’s step-grandfather), Jerry, “I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at. My parents helped out, too, but they had to stay home and run the ranch, and so my grandparents always took me and my brother to Arizona. I remember taking my Shetland pony down there and I started roping when I was like 4 years old.”
When Anderson returned to Arizona last year, he realized it was the 35year he’d spent in team roping’s top winter spot, a place that really caught his attention when he started competing in the Pot of Gold roping, which was big doings for the time.
“It was for people over 40,” Anderson said. “They didn’t have the number system in those days and a lot of people don’t realize that you just had to rope against whoever was entered, so the Pot of Gold was a big, big deal.”
Another big deal for Anderson was winning $11,000 at the USTRC’s National Finals then in Guthrie, Oklahoma, some 30 years ago, which made him “feel pretty good.” But, really, winning the big money pales in comparison to some of his other team roping memories.
“The highlight of my career,” Anderson began, “was in 1994, when I roped at the US Finals with my grandson, Brady, when he was 9 years old. Then, he and his brother, Riley, won the Open there exactly 10 years later, so that was pretty special for me. Having them roping, and to watch them do good, has always been a real pleasure for me.”
Fondly, he recalls his wife roping with Riley on her 70birthday, the last day she ever roped, and how “she never quit talking about that.” And though Anderson, who subscribes to the belief that families that rope together stay together, hasn’t been able to rope much himself in recent years, he continues to create roping memories with his family, which now includes his great-grandchildren, Maverick, 3, and Monroe, 1.
“The other day, I was working the chutes so Brady and Riley could practice,” Anderson said, “and the two little ones were horseback, and that was really something. Maverick roped his first steer on his little Shetland pony. I hate to admit I’m that old, but it’s a blessing to get to see that.”
The Anderson family was inducted into the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2003 for their commitment to the rodeo since its 1923 inception, and Janice was inducted as a Rodeo Grandma in 2016.