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Throwback Thursday: Lex Connelly

by Tracy Renck | May 24, 2018

Lex Connelly was once described as the embodiment of author Owen Wister’s famous westerner, “The Virginian.”

Tall and rangy at 6-2½ and 175 pounds, Connelly was self-assured without being cocky, soft-spoken while being direct and articulate.

Over a lifetime devoted to rodeo, he worked hard and was successful at everything he attempted. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Connelly fell in love with the cowboy sport after his family moved to Wyoming and he took work at local ranches.

He was a tie-down roper and steer wrestler for 11 seasons – winning major titles in New York City and Cheyenne, Wyo. – before taking on a variety of jobs with the Rodeo Cowboys Association (the precursor to the PRCA), including team roping director, vice president and executive secretary-treasurer.

Connelly played an important role in the growth of the association, helping it add insurance coverage for contestants, an in-house publicity bureau, national TV coverage and creation of the National Finals Rodeo, which Connelly later managed for three years in Los Angeles (1962-64).

Connelly became active with his rodeo production company and other rodeo production companies on the West Coast, coupling that operation with rodeo announcing. He was an ambassador for the sport, helping the national media learn and come to appreciate the sport he loved so much.

Connelly, 58, died April 5, 1984, when his light plane crashed near Baker, Ore., en route to an announcing engagement at a spring rodeo in Spokane, Wash. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1985.

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