WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Rodeo cowboy legend Alvin Nelson, a member of half a dozen halls of fame and North Dakota's only world champion saddle bronc rider for 24 years, has died. He was 80.
Nelson, of Grassy Butte, died Dec. 23 at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, according to Fulkerson Funeral Home. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Watford City, North Dakota.
Nelson won the saddle bronc world championship in 1957 at Madison Square Garden in New York. He qualified for five Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, winning the saddle bronc riding average at the finals in 1961 and 1962, and also the all-around title in 1961 in Dallas.
Nelson told the Minot Daily News in 2004 that he remembered his 1957 title well.
"The rodeo lasted three weeks in September, and at that time, it was the world's largest rodeo according to prize money, number of spectators and the number of contestants," he said as he was preparing to be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
"There were eight rounds. I split third and fourth on the first horse, won the second round, split first and second in the last two rounds to win $4,234," he said. "This was the most money ever won in the saddle bronc riding at any one rodeo at the time, and this record stood until 1980."
Nelson was a member of the "six pack," a group of North Dakota bronc and bull riders who dominated the rodeo circuit in the 1950s. He is a member of two national rodeo halls of fame, as well as halls of fame in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana. He was a native of Mobridge, South Dakota.
The Army veteran will be buried in Grassy Butte Cemetery with military honors.