Inducted in 2003
Clarence Anderson, his children, and grandchildren, have served the Ellensburg Rodeo in many ways since the rodeo’s 1923 birth. From their horse-raising and farming days at Sunnybrook Farm, Clarence and Hazel Thurlow Anderson and children Ralph (“Dick”), Ron, Jerry, and Linda branched out into many rodeo jobs and competitions. Clarence Anderson was President and Director of the Ellensburg Rodeo and a founding member of the Ellensburg Rodeo Posse. For over eight decades, members of the Anderson family have served the Ellensburg Rodeo as roping and bulldogging competitors, volunteers, and Ellensburg Rodeo Royal court members.
Anderson family historian Linda Anderson Dozier writes, “Like many of the early‑day Ellensburg Rodeo volunteers, Clarence Anderson and his wife, Hazel, spent a great deal of their life promoting the Rodeo and, in turn, the Kittitas Valley of eastern Washington. Their children and grandchildren have stayed close to the Rodeo and in a variety of ways made their own contributions to the Rodeo’s success, and the local economy.”
Dozier recounts that Clarence Anderson, born in Ridgeway, Iowa in 1898, came to Ellensburg on the train when he was 10. His mother’s brothers ‑ the Johnsons ‑ were early pioneer businessmen in Easton and his uncle Al Johnson built a towering home (later known as the Highway Grille) at 8th and Main for Clarence’s grandmother. While Clarence’s brothers eventually homesteaded and farmed in the Badger Pocket, Clarence built a dairy and horse farm just south of the train depot in Ellensburg. Friends often called him “Sunnybrook” as that was the name of his farm on Anderson Road, north of where the sprawling Anderson Hay headquarters sit today.
Hazel Anderson was born on a Methow Valley ranch in 1900. She was the daughter of pioneer Mason Thurlow, who staked his claim in the beautiful Methow after a wagon train trip from Texas and brief residence in the Kittitas Valley (which he reportedly thought was unhealthy after his first wife and several others died). In the late 1920s, Hazel worked as secretary to the president of Ellensburg Normal School, now Central Washington University, and it was there through friends that she met the school’s riding instructor, Clarence Anderson.
Clarence raised both light and draft horses. In 1923, he used his draft horses to help clear the grounds that are now home to the Ellensburg Rodeo. A true “horse trader” (by all accounts other than his own ‑ he did not like the term), Clarence was responsible for many western Washingtonians making their first visits to Ellensburg to look at and buy his horses. Most often, these customers would also want feed for their new purchases. Clarence’s help in finding that feed led to the start of Sunnybrook Farm Hay Company, which is now known worldwide as Anderson Hay and Grain Company. Today, the company that Clarence started contributes greatly to the Valley economy each year and is in the third generation of family leadership with Clarence and Hazel’s grandson, Mark Anderson, at the helm.
Clarence was a founding member of the Ellensburg Rodeo Posse and was first elected to the Ellensburg Rodeo Board in 1949, a directorship he held for the next 20 years. Always involved in the Rodeo’s activities, Clarence and Hazel also opened their home to many of the visitors, contestants and celebrities who came to Ellensburg for the Rodeo. Hazel did most of the cooking while Clarence invited the people—including Slim Pickens, Monty Montana and many more. Clarence served three terms (1954‑56) as President of the Rodeo Board and remained an active Board member and committee chair until his retirement from the Board in 1969.
The Anderson’s son, Ron, moved Anderson Hay and Grain (and Valley agriculture) into international markets, developing strong ties with Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other nations. He led trade missions to Asia for Pacific Northwest agricultural interests and headed the National Hay Association.
Son Jerry Anderson ‑ a Gold Card member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)—made his name in rodeo from inside the arena ‑ first, as a calf roper and bulldogger and later a team roper. In college in 1954, Jerry helped rope and bulldog his much-respected Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) rodeo team place into second in the nation. After turning professional, he competed in rodeos across the west, wining day money and titles. He won the Puyallup Fair and Rodeo calf-roping twice and placed in both calf-roping and bulldogging in the Pendleton Roundup (in a recent interview Jerry joked that in 1954 he held the Ellensburg Rodeo arena record in bulldogging “for about five minutes” until another cowboy beat his time!). Jerry won Ellensburg Rodeo calf roping go-rounds and the Kittitas County Wild Cow Milking buckles in 1961 and 1975. He has worked the calf chutes at Ellensburg for over 45 years.
Most of all, Jerry is known as someone who has always been ready to guide those who are just starting out in the Rodeo arena. He founded Ropers’ Supply on the old Vantage Highway and served as the PRCA’s spokesman and field man for years. For the past 19 years, Jerry has also played a prominent role in the Valley’s real estate market, specializing in farm and ranch sales. He has been responsible for helping bring a new generation of residents and volunteers to the Rodeo effort.
Jerry’s wife, Janis, has been the “roping” Grandma in the nationally famous “Ellensburg Rodeo Grandmas” since the group’s selection by Washington Mutual Bank in the early Nineties. The “Rodeo Grandmas” have put Ellensburg front‑and‑center of more national television programs than any other single story.
Clarence’s first‑born son, Ralph Richard, recalls riding in some of the earliest Rodeo parades, and the problems that arose when the horses were all ready for the parade and rolled in the manure pile before they headed to town! Richard left the Valley to find his life’s work in selling packing and shipping containers to the fruit and fishing industries.
Clarence and Hazel’s daughter, Linda, was queen of the Ellensburg Rodeo in 1959 and after a brief stint at the Yakima Daily Republic, she moved to Southern California for a career in public relations and corporate communications.
Continuing the family’s support of the Ellensburg Rodeo, Ron and his wife Robin, as well as Grandson Mark Anderson and his wife Carrie, and daughter Linda and her husband Tom Dozier, are all members of the Rodeo’s Gold Buckle Club. Jerry is a past member of the Rodeo Hall of Fame Board of Directors. Richard and his wife are annual visitors to the Rodeo as are many other family members.
It has been eighty years since Clarence Anderson first drove his draft horse team into town to help build the Ellensburg Rodeo grounds. Since that time, Anderson family members have participated in nearly all of the myriad chores necessary to conduct and maintain the rodeo.