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John South

John South Portrait

John South was born at Canadian, Hemphill County, Texas on November 24, 1942. His parents, Toots and Lazelle South, worked on the Lazy B Ranch at the time of his birth. The family moved to the Frank Chambers Ranch in Roberts County, Texas when he was 2 years old.

John and his younger brother, Jim, were cowboys before they knew about any other occupations. They learned cowboy skills... riding, roping, building fence, fixing water gaps and wind mills at an early age. Work was the first priority, but there was time to play also.

The most fun was playing "rodeo cowboy" taking the identity of Casey Tibbs, Jim Shoulders, Harry Tompkins, John Farris, Toots Mansfield and other top hands while performing at Cheyenne, Fort Worth, Madison Square Garden and other famous rodeos.

The Chambers Ranch was 25 miles from Miami and the school bus, a Chevrolet Coupe, was the mode of transportation. Often the bus driver took time out to chase a herd of antelope should they cross the road in front of him. Another brother, Lloyd, joined the family in 1951. The South's moved to Downtown Miami in 1959. This move allowed participation in football, 6-man one year and 8-man the next, basketball and other sports. John, and thirteen classmates, graduated in 1961.

John's uncle, John O. Stovall, took him to a Texas A&M football game when he was 12 years old. That single experience instilled the desire to attend college at Texas A&M. In 1961 Texas A& M was a military school and all students had to participate in ROTC for two years.

Soon after arriving on campus John learned of the upcoming All Aggie Rodeo and managed to get entered in the bareback riding. A hometown buddy got him connected with cowboys who loaned him a rigging, spurs and some much needed instruction. The third place finish was a thrill and began a love of competition lasting for over fifty years.

When the two year ROTC sentence was completed the primary goal at college became making the rodeo team representing Texas A&M at NIRA rodeos. Events entered were expanded to include bronc riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and ribbon roping.

Making a 1.0 GPR was necessary to rodeo and was probably the key to graduating on schedule in 1965. The lessons learned and contacts made in rodeo have served John well.

John taught school in Buckholts, Central Texas, for three years before deciding there must be a better way to starve to death. He went back to Texas A&M for a Masters Degree obtained in 1970.

By chance he learned of interviews for Assistant County Extension Agent positions and was hired to go to Denton County in North Texas. He served there three years, moved to Decatur, in Wise County, serving there fourteen years and retired after fourteen years in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, in 2001. In addition to being a job he loved, Extension allowed time to hone cowboy skills after work, on weekends and vacations.

Although he rodeoed on weekends throughout his career, retirement opened new opportunities for John. He had participated in Senior Pro rodeos when they came to Texas, so deciding to follow the childhood dream of rodeoing full time in pursuit of a world championship was an easy decision. He began the 2001 rodeo season at Longmont, CO and participated in the remaining rodeos and SNFR that year.

The 2002 season began with John following F.W. Lynch to the April rodeos in Nevada. When F.W. went home in June, he traveled with Doug Hough and later in the year with Carol Stevenson and Arlyn Simms. Guidance from these seasoned pros resulted in John realizing his dream of winning a world championship in tie down roping. And, as a bonus, he and Carol won the ribbon roping championship.

Since then he has been blessed with six additional tie down championships, another ribbon roping championship and year end titles in tie down, ribbon roping and team roping in the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association. John is quick to give credit to God for being blessed with some good horses...Doc, Fish, Paint, Fred and Smarty, and safe travel.

Because Senior Pro Rodeo has meant so much to him, John has tried to give back to the association. He served as Judging Coordinator, then served five and a half years on the Executive Board and four and a half years as General Manager.

The friendships made, miles traveled, sights seen and good times enjoyed in Senior Pro Rodeo far and away exceeded any "speed bumps" incurred along the way.

John gives thanks to his wife, Saundra, his children, DeDe, Bill, Sonja, Holly, Christine and Lauren, and his friends for their contributions to his success.

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