All Inductees

Cecil A. Hill

Cowboy, Livestock Man, Rodeo Promoter & Producer

Cecil A. Hill was a man in the world of rodeo worthy of respect.  With a warm heart and accepting nature, he touched the lives of countless young people throughout Central Texas.

Hill opened his family’s rodeo arena in Oak Hill, just southwest of Austin, in 1957.  For 20 years, Hill’s Arena was alive with activity most nights of the week.  Whether it was with weekly buck-outs, practice calf ropings, or the many high school and youth rodeos hosted at the arena, Hill truly catered to the area’s young people.  Numerous young men and women considered him a friend, role model, and second father.

“He had a real warm way with young people,” Linda Amey told the Austin American-Statesman in 1987.  “He was one of the most accepting persons I’ve ever known.  Because he accepted young people as they were, young people tended to try to please him.”

The environment at Hill’s Arena, where alcohol was prohibited, was truly family-friendly.  When a young cowboy could not cover his entry fees, Hill would often offer him work in exchange for the cost of entry.  He was well known to stay up past one or two in the morning “shooting the breeze” with youngsters as they awaited their parents to pick them up.

“Rodeo’s the best sport I know, and it keeps young people off the streets and out of hot rods.  Rodeo should be a family affair, and I’ve always kept a strict watch on the kids,” Hill told the Arena News in 1977.

Hill’s annual Labor Day calf roping was well known across the state.  In the early years, the roping was a three-head average, eventually progressing to a five-head, and finally a ten.  After 15 years, it came to an end when, as Hill said, it got “out of hand” — the largest roping drew in 168 calf ropers.  “That’s 1,680 calves,” Hill said in 1977.  “I went 45 hours without taking my boots off.  That’s what I mean by “getting out of hand!”

As a rodeo producer and promoter, Hill was well respected, producing amateur rodeos within a 300 mile radius of Austin.  For nine years, he produced the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo in the cramped quarters of the Austin Coliseum.

“I think the producer is the backbone of the rodeo,” Cecil Hill said in 1977.  “If he does his job right, his time is taken up.  Besides, I competed in everything but was never good at anything.”

Rodeo ran through the family.  Cecil’s father-in-law Tom Carson operated a rodeo arena just off South Congress in Austin in the 1950s.  His wife Maxine Hill, who ran the concession stand at Hill’s Arena and served as a surrogate mother to youth there, was a long-time barrel racer.  Daughter Donna Shiller made her mark in barrel racing over decades of competing and winning, including appearances at the National High School Finals as a teenager and the NFR as an adult.  Son Alford Hill was an all-around cowboy who roped, rode bulls, bulldogged, twice won the state high school bareback championship, and handled much of the “heavy lifting and labor” at Hill’s Arena and the rodeo company.

Many notable cowboys had early ties at Hill’s Arena including world champion bulldogger Tommy Puryear, hall of fame bullfighter/barrel man/clown/entertainer Leon Coffee, NFR bullfighter Mike Moore, and NFR bull rider Brent Thurman.  Seven-time NFR cowboy Leon Bauerle and many others had connections to Hill’s Arena as well.

The consummate trader, Hill’s interests over the years included an Oak Hill feed store and gas station, auction barn, and truck & trailer business.  Hill was known for his honest dealings with people.  “I had to trade my way out of every storm I got in,” he told the Arena News publication in 1977.  “But I don’t think I ever traded with a man I couldn’t trade with twice.  I’ve always been a man of my word.  I’ve never been much of a paper businessman, and I don’t need contracts when I’m dealing with people.  With me a handshake is as good as a contract.”

After he stopped producing rodeos, you’d sometimes hear Cecil Hill’s smooth voice announcing at youth rodeos where his grandchildren were competing.  When he died in 1987, he was remembered for the impact he made on the sport of rodeo, in the lives of young people, and on the Oak Hill community.

*Photo of Cecil Hill is from the book They Ride the Rodeo – the Men & Women of the American Amateur Rodeo Circuit by Joe Englander, Collier Books, 1979.