Pages Navigation Menu

ON-LINE MAGAZINE & WEB SITE - SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWS

PRO RODEO HALL OF FAMER DEB COPENHAVER PASSES AWAY AT AGE 94

DEB COPENHAVER PASSES AWAY AT AGE 94

Press release from PRCA
Feb. 27, 2019

ProRodeo Hall of Famer and two-time Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion, Deb Copenhaver passed away late at night after going to sleep Feb. 6 at his home in Cresston, Wash, just a few weeks after his 94th birthday, according to his son Jeff Copenhaver. 

“He went to sleep and woke up in heaven,” said Jeff. “He was reunited with Cheryl, his wife of over 50 years. He was excited about seeing her.”

Copenhaver is considered one of the greatest bronc riders to come from the Pacific Northwest. He was known as a “thinking” rider. He started the style of the “dehorned” saddle, now required in saddle bronc riding competition. He did it partly by accident after a bronc mashed the horn when it ran into the unsaddling chute. Copenhaver shuttled off the rest of the horn and a new style was born.

Rodeo was in the Copenhaver family’s blood as Jeff was the 1975 tie-down roping World Champion and his daughter, Deborah, is a former Miss Rodeo Washington and a respected bronze sculptor.

Deb was born in Wilbur, Wash., on Jan. 21, 1925 and began breaking horses and exercising racehorses as a young boy. He entered his first rodeo at age 15. He enlisted in the Navy Seabees at 17 and spent two years in North Africa during World War II. After the war, Copenhaver worked as a logger in the Northwest for a couple of years before embarking on his rodeo career full time in 1948.

He won saddle bronc riding world championships in 1955 and 1956, was runner-up to Casey Tibbs three times (1951,’53 and ’54) and was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1992.

He was nicknamed “Fireplug” as much for his fiery, competitive nature and his stocky build. The 5-foot-8 Copenhaver won plenty of big rodeos, including Calgary in1953, ’55 and ’58; Madison Square Garden in 1952 and ’55; Pendleton, Oregon in 1954; Salinas, Calif., in 1952; Denver in 1956 and Fort Worth, Texas in 1954.

He went on to serve on the PRCA Board pf Directors from 1986-1989. When he was 88 years old, he built a tiny roadside chapel on his ranch about 50 miles west of Spokane, Wash. He is survived by his children: Jeff, Deborah, Matt, Kelly and Guy, as well as numerous grandchildren.

468 ad

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.