All Inductees

R. L. Bland

Rodeo Couple

Rodeo was always a part of life for R.L. Bland and Rosemary Beck. When they married on August 20, 1948, it became a family affair. Both were active and competed in rodeos growing up, and together they raised five children who were all top rodeo competitors.

R.L. was born on September 7, 1922, and his love for horses and cattle was evident at an early age. He spent much of his early life with his uncle, Dee Bland, at his father’s farm south of Merkel, Texas. He got his start in rodeo at ropings in Merkel where each roper brought their own calf. R.L. started entering rodeos in 1938 and was a member of the Cowboys’ Turtle Association, the forerunner of the Rodeo Cowboys Association and later the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

During his rodeo career, R.L. competed in the calf roping, steer wrestling, and wild cow milking events. He teamed up with Buff Douthitt to win the wild cow milking at the Madison Square Garden Rodeo, and in 1950 he won the steer wrestling at Fort Worth.

Rosemary grew up on a sheep ranch near Talpa, Texas. During World War II, she helped her father on the ranch, and he described her as a “good hand.” She belonged to the Girl’s Rodeo Association and competed in girl’s rodeo events all over Texas. In 1945 she was rodeo queen at the Coleman Rodeo and was “Queen for a Day” at the Fort Worth Stock Show.

The Blands raised five children, all tough hands in the rodeo arena. Sons Rex, John, and Steve all qualified for the National Finals Rodeo: Rex in the steer wrestling, John in the bull riding, and Steve in the calf roping. Daughters Diltzie and Becky were also winning rodeo competitors.

R.L. was involved in the cattle industry throughout his life. He ranched in West Texas and South Dakota before settling near Trent where he owned the Cal-Tex Feedyards. R.L. served on a number of boards including the Texas Cattle Feeders, Farmers and Merchants Bank in Merkel, and was a member of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce agriculture committee.

Rosemary served on the Trent school board and helped organize the local CowBelles Chapter. She was also active in the Our Mother of Mercy Church in Merkel and Holy Family Catholic Church in Abilene. She was a director in the AJRA for 18 years. Over the years, the pair was honored by a number of organizations including the Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, and the Block and Bridle Club of Abilene Christian University.

Throughout his life, R.L. was active in rodeo, and when the PRCA created the circuit system, he helped establish the first circuit finals in Abilene. He was a director in the Lone Star Circuit for several years and was named Man of the Year in the circuit.

R.L. and Rosemary were season ticket holders for the National Finals Rodeo from its inception in Dallas, through the moves to Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and Las Vegas. R.L.’s last trip to the NFR was shortly before his death in 1989.