All Inductees

Leo Brannan


Born on a cotton farm near Bynum, Texas, on February 25, 1917, Leo Brannan has been a lifelong resident of Texas. At the age of five, he started roping chickens and goats with his brother, T.J.

Brannan entered his first roping at Aquila, Texas, at the age of eight. The event was similar to a calf scramble, and he won first place, which paid $2.80. Brannan eventually started roping off a horse in his cousin’s barn lot. There was no roping chute, so they would run the calves and goats out of a barn stall and into the pen.

Leo and T.J. started entering local rodeos as teenagers, and in 1936, both placed at the Waco rodeo. Leo was 19 at the time, and the boys started their professional rodeo careers by joining the Cowboys Turtle Association. That same year, Leo was contacted by J.K. “Red” Harris, who offered to pay his entry fees and expenses for half of his winnings. Leo remained with Harris until Brannan joined the Army in 1942 to serve during World War II.

Brannan returned from the Army in 1945 and launched a full-time career in rodeo. He joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association and quickly became known as one of the top ropers in the country. From 1946 to 1959, Brannan competed in rodeos in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, never missing a calf in 64 performances.

During his career, Brannan placed in or won most of the major rodeos in the country. During one season, he placed in Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, San Angelo, and Cheyenne. He also competed in matched ropings against and beat some of the biggest names in rodeo, including Toots Mansfield, Shot Webster, and Tony Salinas. Brannan retired from professional rodeo in 1959, following the Salt Lake City rodeo. In addition to being a successful roper, Brannan was a great judge of horse flesh and trained a number of top roping horses. Even after his retirement from professional rodeo, Brannan continued to train roping horses.

Following his career in professional rodeo, Leo continued to compete in senior events and qualified for the National Old Timers Rodeo Association Finals in all of the roping events. At the age of 75, he won the championship in the 71 & over age group. During his storied career, he won 80 belt buckles, 17 saddles, and an assortment of other awards including breast collars, bits, spurs, and blankets.

In 1946, Leo married Delighta “Dee” Schelza during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. They were married for 53 years and had one daughter, Frances. They also had two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. At the age of 90, Leo was still riding horses and heeling steers at local jackpots and senior events.