The Wyoming rodeohand

Pete Burns Remembered


Foot in the stirrup and hand on the horn, best damned cowboy ever was born.
- “The Old Chisholm Trail”
There are a lot of saddened rodeo cowboys and cowgirls this week. We are together mourning the loss of a man who was held in high esteem by us all. Pete Burns. He died in his Laramie, WY home over the weekend after a Saturday of going up on the mountain outside of Laramie to help some elk hunter friends on a project. Pete’s son Hal said his dad was feeling good, better than he had in some time. He was 85 years old. The coffee klatch in Laramie was missing Pete a few days later and another son found the elder Burns in town in his little house filled with rodeo memorabilia dating to the 1940s. Hal Burns indicated in a chat with us yesterday that there was nothing in disarray in Pete’s home so the family is quite certain he died peacefully, and quickly.
Pete Burns competed into the 1950s riding bulls, bareback horses and wrestling steers. He started a stock contracting business (Burns Rodeo Co.) in 1958. Pete was the University of Wyoming rodeo coach for 15 years leading three women’s teams to national titles. He beamed when speaking about his team members and you could see the pride in his twinkling eyes a few years ago when a third of the bulldoggers that qualified for the NFR were UW kids.
Pete loved to reminisce about Mr. T – a spotted, well-defined and tough bucking bull Burns described as “majestic.” “T” as Pete called him tossed all comers well before the required eight seconds for five years. In 2009, to mark the 20th anniversary of Mr. T finally being taken to the whistle at Cheyenne Frontier Days, we spoke with Pete about that incredible bull:
Mr T #2 -cfd Project 1-MPEG-4 A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, February 8th at noon at the Albany County Fairgrounds.

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Gene Bryan


Lots of great memories of Pete from my days as sports editor and later as managing editor of the Laramie Boomerang. Pete was “Mr. Rodeo” in the Cowboy State during the Kate 50s and 60s. He was a stock contractor and served as coach of the UW rodeo team. Even before Mr. T, Pete had a fun little Scottish Highlander hull named “Dennis the Menace” that was a fan favorite on the too and college circuits. He was a man of serious passions tempered by a world class sense of humor. Shared lots of stories and many laughs. Will miss him.

Chris Lawson


Pete Burns will be missed by many, impossible to count all the people he befriended while coaching at the University of Wyoming.

Gary Darnall


Great Man! I admire Pete for all of the youth he helped mature.

Jed McKinlay


I was sad to learn of Pete’s passing. He was a great friend, mentor and father figure to me. When I first met him I came to Laramie to find a place to live. Pete invited me to stay in his home with him while I looked. He helped me find a place, helped me find a job and helped me love Laramie and make it a home for my family for a few years. He made me feel like I was a part of his family. I’m so very grateful for the opportunities Pete offered me. He blessed my life in so many ways it’s hard to imagine. He helped me to become the man I am today. I will always remember him as a gentleman and the kind of a cowboy I wanted to be. He was kind to others and to the animals. He had a gentle nature, but he got a heck of a lot done too. During my years in Laramie I loved going to practice and to the rodeos and the CNFR. It was our way oflife and one of the fondest parts of my life. It was all made possible because of Pete Burns. I feel confident that Pete can sense my gratitude where he is up yonder and I’ll continue to try to make him proud by the way I live my life. Vaya Con Dios Amigo, til we meet again!

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