A well-known figure in the rodeo community, Brenda Binion Michael of Amarillo Texas, died July 27. She was 81 years old.
In 2015, she received the Rodeo’s Ken Stemler Pioneer Award “for her commitment to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame with her continued support of the famous Benny Binion Horse and Bull Sale, which benefits the Hall of Fame and scholarships. ‘studies for young people’.
The Rosary/Vigil will be said at 6:00 p.m. (CT), Monday, August 1, at the Schooler Funeral Home in Amarillo. The funeral will be celebrated at 10 a.m., August 2, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 605 38th St., Canyon. Interment will follow at Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon.
Brenda was the third of five children born to Benny and Teddy Jane Binion. Benny is credited with being the driving force behind moving the Wrangler National Finals to Las Vegas in 1985.
Horses and rodeo were her lifelong passions, a trait she shared with her father. She befriended a cross section of the rodeo, cutting and ranching community, as well as many others in her adopted hometown of Amarillo. She has generously shared her time, connections and resources with countless rodeo hands, past and present. And his barn in Amarillo was always available for competitors traveling with horses.
Born in Dallas and raised in Las Vegas, she spent many summers at the Binion Ranch in Jordan, Montana, where she eventually lived full time. Michael attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth to be at the heart of the cutting horse industry. She helped her family full-time in Montana before buying a ranch near Santa Rosa, NM. She moved to Amarillo in 1969 and pursued her breeding interests.
When she was 17, her father gave her the task of registering all eligible horses on his Montana ranch with the American Quarter Horse Association. The work was harder than it looks. “Dad always raced at least 200 mares, so we had 10 to 15 stallions all the time,” she told John L. Moore for an article in America’s Horse magazine.
The Binion Ranch spanned 95,000 deeded acres in the badlands of eastern Montana, as well as hundreds of thousands of leased lands at various times. The bands of mares ran in pastures larger than most people’s entire ranch. They remained untouched until they arrived with their foals each year to be sorted while Brenda tried to read the mares’ identification marks and draw marks. It remained her responsibility until Benny’s death in 1989, long after she had established her own respected breeding program in Texas.
At the 2020 American Quarter Horse Association convention, she received an 80-year-old breeder’s certificate for her sire and her affiliation since the association began.
Brenda was selected Tri-State Fair Cowgirl of the Year in 1998. Also in 1998, she acquired the Lighthouse Ranch at the edge of Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
A longtime member of the fair’s board of directors, she served on the fundraising committee for the Amarillo National Center which opened in 2000. A boon to the local economy is the site the fair’s PRCA rodeo and numerous horse shows and other events.
Brenda was predeceased by her husband Bert France; his parents; his sister Barbara and Barbara’s son Key Fechser and his brother Ted Binion.
Brenda is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Mindy, and Clint Johnson; grandson Ben Johnson, his wife, Kaitlin, and their children Porter, Emery, Hudson and Henley, all of Canyon; little girl Janie Johnson and engaged Jake Finlay of Weatherford, Texas; his sister Becky Behnen and his brother Jack Binion, both of Las Vegas.
The family suggests that memorials be returned to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame or the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. Memories shared and messages submitted on the Schooler Funeral Home website are appreciated (www.schoolerfuneralhome.com).
Courtesy of PRCA