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 â€“ 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:
A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, February 8th at noon at the Albany County Fairgrounds.