Mineola man makes pro rodeo hall of fame

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The Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2020 inductees on Feb. 1 and will include a former Mineola resident and 1979 graduate of Mineola High School.

Jerry P. Hill was born in Quitman and raised in Mineola by the late Johnny P. and Mary J. Hill. He worked his way through high school and studied business at Tyler Junior College. 

Jerry worked for the late Dr. Carter McCorkle and Dr. Jack McCorkle in the early 1980s managing a small chain of convenience stores, eventually purchasing the business in 2001. Jerry has been a resident of Wills Point since 1988 and still owns and operates a Texaco station there. His ties to his Mineola family are close. His sisters and extended family are lifelong residences of Mineola, Tina Hill Wade and Cheryl Hill Wood.

Jerry got involved in the rodeo industry in 1990, serving as sponsor and assistant coach to the Wills Point High School Rodeo Association. He served as president of the Wills Point Riding and Roping Club and was elected to the board of the Texas Professional Rodeo Association in the mid 1990s. He was also a member of the North American Rodeo Commission. 

In 1996 while serving as president and general manager of the Texas Professional Rodeo Association (TPRA), he led the board to merge assets with the Central Rodeo Association (CRA); the result was the creation of the United Professional Rodeo Association (UPRA). Jerry was elected as chief operating officer.

The CRA was created in 1956 and the TPRA was created in 1959. Both associations served as sanctioning for rodeos across Texas and Oklahoma. The annual Mineola Fire and Rescue Rodeo has been sanctioned with the CRA) and now the UPRA for many years.

The UPRA begin in 1996 with almost 300 members, 37 rodeos and a yearly contestant payout of $250,000. In 1999 Jerry, along with representatives of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the International Professional Rodeo Association and other groups from across the country met in Colorado Springs to create the first rodeo industry “Code of Practice for Animal Welfare and Use.” This Code of Practice was adopted by the PRCA, UPRA, IPRA and other leading associations across the country. The Code of Practice or modified version is still the most accepted set of rules and regulations regarding animal welfare and use in the rodeo industry today. 

In 2014, Jerry again led a team of directors to merge assets from the Texas Cowboy Rodeo Association (created in 1987) with the UPRA bringing additional rodeos and contestant members across West Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado. 

In 2005 Jerry was elected president of the UPRA and served as chief operating officer and president of the UPRA Executive Board of Directors, titles he continues to hold today. In 2019 the UPRA had almost 1,800 members and 287 rodeos across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. The 2019 contestant payout was over $5.1 million dollars. 

“I’m honored by the induction into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.  I’ve spent 30 years working to improve the sport of rodeo,” Jerry said, “I will be forever grateful to the Hall of Fame for recognizing the body of work. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most talented people through the years. This wouldn’t be possible without them; I’ve had great teams.”

Jerry can often be found at the annual Mineola Fire & Rescue Rodeo each July as he continues to work in the rodeo industry to improve rodeo and preserve the western heritage. He has also served on the Wills Point Chamber of Commerce and serves as a commissioner on the Van Zandt County Emergency Services District #4 Board. 

The Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame inductions were planned April 4 at the Stockyards in Fort Worth but have been postponed until June 27.

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