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BILL LINDERMAN (1920-1965)

Inducted in 2001

Bill Linderman is a 2001 Inductee to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame. Linderman’s is a giant name in the history of 1940s and 1950s North American rodeo and was a regular in Ellensburg during that legendary period. William E. (Bill) Linderman was born on April 13, 1920 in Bridger, Montana, to a family that produced five professional rodeo cowboy brothers. Bill went to work in the hard rock mines of Montana as a young man. With massive arm and shoulder strength he built as a miner, the six-foot, 175 lb. Linderman “hit the rodeo road” in the early 1942. Bill Linderman worked both sides of the arena–he regularly competed in bareback bronc, saddle bronc, calf roping, and bulldogging events. Because of his great prowess in the post-World War II years, his fellow cowboys dubbed Linderman “The King.” During a near-fifteen year professional career, Linderman won RCA World Championships in Saddle Broncs (’45, ’50), Bareback Broncs (’43) and, evincing his timed-event expertise, Steer Wrestling (’50). Linderman also captured world three World All-Around Cowboy titles (‘45, ‘50, and ‘53). During this time Linderman was, according to one historian, “spectacularly beaten up…he broke his back, fractured his skull, broke his arm three times as well as his neck, foot, leg, and collarbone.” Linderman could be stoic yet witty about the pitfalls and uncertainties of the rodeo sport: “Rodeo is about the only sport you can’t fix,” he once remarked. “You’d have to talk to the bulls and the horses, and they wouldn’t understand you.” As his arena career was ending, Bill Linderman began a new career as an officer in the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA). He served the sport from 1950 to 1965 as the RCA’s president, secretary-treasurer, and board member. In this capacity Bill Linderman became an official spokesperson for the professional rodeo cowboys, and he tackled the chore with characteristic dramatic flair. He once drolly explained to a journalist: “In rodeo, if a competitor’s broke, [his fellow cowboys] will not only loan him transportation and entry fee, we’ll throw in a saddle. Besides that, we’ll tell him how the horse he draws bucks.” In Ellensburg, Bill Linderman made many friends and won much respect as a competitor and RCA officer. Linderman consistently won day money in Ellensburg, and in 1955 he made an impressive three-buckle sweep, winning the Saddle Bronc, Bareback Bronc and Ellensburg All-Around buckles. On November, 11, 1965, the rodeo world was shocked to learn that Bill Linderman had died in a commercial airplane crash in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was forty-five years old.