Saying goodbye to ProRodeo Hall of Famer Robinson
ProRodeo has lost one of its superstars. ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull rider Jerome Robinson passed away Jan. 9. He was 74.
Robinson, who was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2019, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 11 times — 1970-75 and 1977-81.
Robinson went on to become a cowboy with many hats — a contestant, contractor, event producer, contract personnel and member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association board of directors. With so many titles on his résumé, Robinson was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame as a Notable, a word that perfectly summarizes his career.
“I was floored to be truthful,” Robinson said in the July 19, 2019, edition of the ProRodeo Sports News. “It was completely unexpected knowing all the other people who put time into this association. I’m completely humbled by it knowing the other people who have done a lot for this outfit.”
During his time in the professional ranks, Robinson served as the Bull Riding director on the PRCA board for four years, vice-president for one, a term on the National Finals Rodeo Commission, and was on the PRCA research and development committee for the building of the Colorado Springs headquarters and Hall of Fame.
A LASTING CONTRIBUTION
Robinson made a lasting contribution to rodeo when in 1975 he helped institute the centralized computer entry system, known today as PROCOM. This system utilized a computer to implement the rules and guidelines of the PRCA Rulebook and a bank of toll-free phone lines to communicate with rodeo contestants, stock contractors, secretaries, and committees.
PROCOM consolidated more than 500 individual rodeo entry offices across the nation into one, facilitating a vastly more efficient method of contesting in and producing PRCA rodeos.
“If we took notes, it would have crumbled around our ears,” Robinson laughed in the July 19 PSN article. “We could have written a book on all of that, but the roof would have caved in on us because there was so much touch and go. We worked unbelievable hours to keep both of those moving.”
Tom Glause, PRCA’s CEO praised the work done by Robinson.
“Jerome was a visionary … He was always willing to lend a helping hand,” Glause said. “So many bull riders were touched by him, and so many rodeos are better off from his keen eye for production. He was an operational genius and so much more. His passing is a loss for the world of rodeo.”
Steve Rempelos, PRCA’s chief marketing officer and dear friend of Robinson concurred with Glause.
“Jerome was instrumental in creating the PROCOM central entry system and was a vice president on the PRCA board in 1979 when the PRCA moved to Colorado Springs and built the Hall of Fame,” Rempelos said. “He helped form the Association of Rodeo Committees while he was still competing as a PRCA bull rider and was an 11-time qualifier to the NFR. His passion for quality production at rodeos started early and took him on a path worldwide to showcase our iconic American sport.
“Jerome touched so many lives and careers. I truly enjoyed our close friendship of nearly 40 years, and I share his loss with his family, friends and the rodeo community.”
Fellow ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull rider Donnie Gay, an eight-time PRCA world champ, praised Robinson for his contributions to the sport.
“You don’t qualify for NFR 11 times without being pretty good,” Gay said. “Jerome was always in the mix, and he out rodeoed everybody in those days. He was able to get to so many rodeos and ride so many bulls and he would draw a check almost everywhere he went. He was getting a check as many times as he could get a check and that was probably at 30 or 40 more rodeos a year than anybody else was competing at. He was a top NFR bull rider because he was smarter than most and was dedicated. That’s the way he approached every job that he did.”
IN THE EARLY YEARS
Robinson finished a career-best fourth in the 1974 and 1975 PRCA world standings.
Robinson attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins to study education but maintained that he really majored in rodeo. He qualified for three National Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals and was rodeoing professionally when he graduated in 1969.
Robinson competed on his PRCA card for 16 years, starting in 1967, and made 11 trips to the NFR. He went on to mentor several PRCA world champion bull riders and many others involved with rodeo production.
“Before The American Rodeo last year, he drove out to Terrell (Texas), which is about 50 miles from AT&T Stadium and spent the afternoon with my dad (Neal), and my brother (Pete) and I,” Gay said. “We were real close friends. We enjoyed having him over and had a good visit. He saw stuff that was keeping rodeo off TV and stuff that was holding us back sponsor-wise. He always blended in and that’s the way he produced events.”
Jeff Chadwick, Wrangler’s director of special events, also praised Robinson.
“I’ve known Jerome forever because we were both from Fort Collins, and I also worked for Jerome when I was right out of college,” Chadwick said. “He was a great friend, a mentor and a gentleman. He was one of the classiest guys in rodeo far and away. He’s a guy who remembered every building manager, everybody who worked in the building. He would go back to a building and call everybody by name. He had the unique ability to remember people and things about them. He had a real connection with people. I never worked for anybody who could get you to work 16 hours a day and like it, but he did.”
An injury in 1982 took Robinson out of competition for four months but afforded him the opportunity to launch an integrated rodeo production business specializing in indoor rodeos. He handled everything from booking venues, hauling in dirt for the arena, hiring contractors and producing the performance. In 1985, the PRCA asked Robinson to execute the production of the ESPN-televised rodeo series “Winston Tour.”
He considered creating PROCOM and starting the Winston Tour to be his most challenging achievements.
“Having PROCOM was a gamechanger,” Donnie said. “We used to call it (PROCOM) 1.800 dialing for dollars. You could get in rodeos so much easier. Jerome was a real forward thinker.”
Robinson’s company produced events in Japan, France, Finland, Oman, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela.
Of all his accomplishments, Robinson couldn’t pick a favorite when asked in his July 2019 article in the PSN.
“Serving on the board was definitely educational but just being involved in the lifestyle and the day-to-day of all of it,” Robinson said.
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