'One of the greats'



It's the word friends and colleagues used to describe longtime bullfighter Jimmy Anderson, who died last Friday at his home in Desmonda, Texas.

He was 55 and had been battling heart problems.

"He was as good a bullfighter as I've ever seen," said Tuff Hedeman, a three-time world champion bull rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. "He was absolutely fearless."

Anderson spent 32 years as a professional bullfighter, working some of the top rodeos in the country, including the 1982 National Finals Rodeo. He was among the original bullfighters  along with Rob Smets, Joe Baumgartner and Lloyd Ketchum  on the Professional Bull Riders tour and his final event before retirement was the 2001 PBR World Finals.

News of his death reached the rodeo community on Friday and Saturday at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, under way in Las Vegas.

"That was my wake-up call on Friday," said Smets, a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, who worked alongside Anderson in the arena for years. "It was a big shock. Miles Hare, who also fought bulls with us, is the one that gave me the phone call."

Smets, who retired in 2006, said Anderson was fearless, tough and demanding in the arena.

"Jimmy didn't sugarcoat anything," said Smets, who flew from Las Vegas to Texas on Saturday. "If he felt like he didn't hold up his end, he'd be the first one to tell you. But he usually held up his end and half of yours."

PRCA bullfighter Rowdy Barry called Anderson an icon of the sport.

"He was legendary for how tough he was," Barry said. "All he cared about was protecting the cowboys."

Anderson was born Sept. 6, 1953 in Fort Worth, Texas. He fought bulls and protected generations of cowboys, including at his hometown rodeo, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, for many years.

"He was one of the greats," said Hall of Fame stock contractor Harry Vold. "He'd give his life for those bull riders. That's just the way he was."

"Everybody that spent much time around him felt like he was probably the best protection bull fighter there was, maybe even to this day," said Dr. Tandy Freeman, the medical director for both the PRCA and PBR, who will be a pall bearer for Anderson along with Smets and Hedeman, among others. "Jimmy was always ready to do what it took to take care of the cowboy."

Alan Jordan, a PRCA official and a former bull rider, said it always gave him comfort to see Anderson in the arena when he was getting on a bull.

"Every time I rode, if I saw Jimmy there, I knew I didn't have anything to worry about," Jordan said. "He was a good guy."

Anderson won several Wrangler Bullfighter of the Year titles in his career. He was also inducted into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame and honored on the Cowboy Capital Walk of Fame in Stephenville, Texas.

He is survived by his wife, Louise Anderson of Desdemona; and daughters, Brooke, Shannon, and Keely of Stephenville.

Services will be at 1 p.m., Tuesday at the Lacy Funeral Home Chapel in Stephenville. Burial will be at Howard Cemetery in Desdemona. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Attn: Memorials, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.