Cotton Rosser

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Cotton Rosser, known as "King of the Cowboys," was a stock contractor and rodeo event producer. He owned the Flying U Ranch, which operates a successful bucking horse breeding program and has produced bulls such as Reindeer Dippin', the sire of Bushwacker, Whitewater Skoal, Werewolf, Hawaiian Ivory, Bring It, and Curve Ball. He also supplied bulls to the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. during its entire history.

Rosser was awarded the Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 and was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in April 2015. It had been 50 years since the last Latter-day Saint had been inducted (Brigham Young in 1958, Anthony W. Ivins in 1958, Jacob Hamblin in 1958, William Jordan Flake in 1959, John Albert Scorup in 1960, and Jesse Knight in 1964). In 1995, Rosser was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. He was also named Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Stock Contractor of the Year. In 2015, he received the PRCA Donita Barnes Contract Personnel Lifetime Achievement award. In 2019, he was honored as Legend of Pro Rodeo.

In October 2021, the Hometown Hero Bronze Statue Project in Marysville, California, honored Cotton Rosser with a sculpture created by Jeff Wolf. The statue, which depicts Rosser on a horse called Winchester, stands at the Gallery at Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture. In 1995, the past presidents of the Reno Rodeo Association commissioned a half-sized bronze statue of Rosser that has remained as a lasting tribute to the longtime rodeo producer. The statue sits in front of the Reno Rodeo Association office at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center.

Cotton Rosser, left, with sculptor Jeff Wolf in October 2021

Rosser was born on August 5, 1928, in Long Beach, California. He studied animal science at Cal Poly and competed on the rodeo team. In the inaugural Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals in 1949, he won second place in the all around then won the all around and National Saddle Bronc Riding championships the following year. He won the all-around championship at the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco in 1951. As a licensed pilot, he flew his team to rodeo competitions across the country. He completed his studies in 1952 and was looking forward to a promising professional rodeo career, but after he broke both of his legs in a ranch accident, he redirected his passion for rodeo. In 1956, he purchased the Flying U Rodeo Company and began producing rodeos. He produced on average fifty rodeos a year. Flying U, based in Marysville, Calif., is American's oldest continually operating stock contracting company. Rosser was instrumental in bringing high school rodeo to California. The Board of Trustees of the California State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo conferred upon Rosser the honorary degree of Doctor of Science in 2014.

Rosser, whose wife, Karin, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joined the Church in 2004. One of his fondest memories occurred when he had the opportunity to meet Thomas S. Monson and Dieter F. Uchtdorf at a Days of ’47 Rodeo.[1] The Rossers have five children.

Cotton Rosser passed away on June 22, 2022, at the age of 93. He "loved his animals, his family and entertaining generations of families and creating memories that will last them a lifetime."[2]