Larry Dawson was born on January 27, 1939 in Sunray, Texas to C.H. and Faye Dawson. Larry was raised in Stinnett, Texas with his 2 brothers: Fred and Rooster, and sister Harriette. He graduated from Stinnett High School where he lettered all four years in football, basketball, and track. In 1956 – his senior year – he was the quarterback that led his team to the state football championship. In 2001, the Amarillo Globe-News named Larry Dawson as the region’s top football player of the 1950s.
Larry attended Texas Christian University from 1957-1961 on a football scholarship. As quarterback, he led his team to two Southwest Conference championships in 1958 and 1959, played in two Bowl games and received numerous awards. Larry was also a member of the TCU Rodeo Team, and qualified for the CNFR two years in steer wrestling and one in bull riding. After leaving TCU, Larry and his former roommate and teammate Bob Lilley signed a three year contract to play for the Dallas Cowboys; however, his desire to be a “real” cowboy won over and he left the world of football forever to compete in the PRCA in 1962.
In 1976, Larry was steer wrestling champion at the Calgary Stampede and qualified for the NFR in steer wrestling. Larry also won at San Antonio; Denver and Colorado Springs, CO; Fort Worth; North Platte, NE; Houston; Salt Lake City and Ogden, UT; Pampa; Albuquerque; Amarillo; and qualified for the Texas Rodeo Circuit Finals in ’76 and ’78. Larry also qualified for the National Old Timers Rodeo in ’89.
Larry primarily competed in steer wrestling; however he was not a stranger to calf roping, team roping, and steer roping. In his later years he roped with the Senior Steer Roping Association. Larry served on the PRCA Board of Directors from 1978-1981, and is PRCA Gold card member.
Besides being a contestant, Larry was an expert rodeo flagger and rodeo judge. He judged, among others, the San Angelo Texas Roping Fiesta, the Coors Ranch Rodeo and the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping for 25 plus years. In 2000, he was honored with the “Cowboy of the Year” award at the Amarillo Tri-State Fair & Rodeo. In 2002, he was inducted into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. Currently, Larry serves on the Coors Cowboy Club Ranch Rodeo Committee and also on the Executive and Rodeo Boards of the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo, and as Arena Director.
Larry and his wife Sparky reside on the Packsaddle Ranch in Arnett, OK where they manage a cow-calf operation and train horses used in ranch work and professional rodeo with the help of daughter Julie Dawson. They are also parents to Jason and Samantha Bradshaw, Jack and Jennifer Bradshaw, Jace and Allison Dawson, and grandparents to four beautiful grandchildren.