All Inductees

Durwood "Mitz" Ray


Mitz started rodeoing professionally at the age of 16, with his first rodeo in Burnet. At 18, he joined the Cowboy Turtle Association during the 1943 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, produced by Everett Colburn and movie legend Gene Autry. His first events as a new CTA member were bull and bareback riding. When the Cowboy Turtle Association changed its name to the Rodeo Cowboy Association, and later to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Mitz continued his membership, participating as a bull and bareback rider.

In 1944, he won the bull riding at the Harlingen Rodeo and the Johnson City Rodeo, among others, and continued to ride in rodeos throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. At the Refugio rodeo, he won the bull riding and, uniquely, bareback mule riding. Mitz mainly rode bulls and barebacks but occasionally participated in saddle bronc riding to help rodeo producers.

Mitz’s rodeo career included every event. Once, after riding his bull successfully in San Angelo, he was thrown into the mud by clowns. He and other cowboys often slept by the road in their bedrolls or shared a room to save money. A serious injury in Lockhart ended his riding days, but he remained involved in rodeo by hauling stock, judging, and serving as a pickup man.

Born on December 14, 1924, in the Youngsport community south of Killeen, Mitz was the oldest of seven children. He began riding his grandfather’s cows at a young age, enjoying the thrill of riding bucking horses. Mitz is now a respected cattleman and rancher south of Belton, married to Nan Pamplin Ray for 56 years, with four children and ten grandchildren. He maintains an interest in professional rodeos and is honored to have been presented with Gold Card #4113 as a lifetime member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.