Saturday, June 30, 2018

Rodeo legend Harry Tompkins passes at the age of 90

Russell Huffman

Erath County rodeo legend Harry Tompkins passed away Friday. He was 90 years old and leaves behind a profound legacy in professional rodeo. Tompkins was larger than life with Hollywood good looks and the astounding athletic ability to ride the toughest bulls and broncs professional rodeo had to offer. An eight-time world champion, Tompkins won five bull riding titles including three straight years from 1948-50 and two more with a title in 1952 and eight years later in 1960. His all-around cowboy titles came later in his career with wins in 1952 and 1960. He won both the bareback riding and bull riding titles in 1952. He was forever immortalized in rodeo by “The Dean of Rodeo Photographers” DeVere Helfrich who was the premier rodeo photographer and the inventor of the “classic style” of rodeo images. In 1949, Tompkins had drawn a rank bull known as Yellow Jacket, and the talk behind the chutes was Tompkins had met his match. Tompkins made it known he was going to ride the bull and if Helfrich would make sure he kept the camera on Tompkins there would be something special for Helfrich to photograph. Tompkins had a good idea of Yellow Jacket’s bucking pattern and he proved he had the bull figured out when he turned and gave a mile-wide grin to Helfrich as he passed by for perhaps the most famous picture in rodeo...MORE

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