- Your Town
Benjamin Frank Reynolds
1936 – 2014
Benjamin Frank Reynolds died suddenly of an apparent heart attack while loading hay at his ranch in Twin Bridges on February 14. He was born in Twin Bridges on March 5, 1936, to Frank and Gertrude “Brownie” Reynolds.
He attended schools in Melrose and Butte, and graduated from Beaverhead County High School in 1955.
Benny began his rodeo career at a young age, working every event possible, including wild horse races and wild cow milking. He is quoted as saying: “It wasn’t that any one event was my favorite. I did them all because I liked them all.”
He first gained national recognition when he appeared on the game show Name that Tune in 1958. Later that year, he was crowned the Rookie of the Year by the Rodeo Cowboys Association, when he was fifth in the world bareback standings and third in the all-around.
Benny married Mary Elizabeth Baker from Brownwood, Texas, in 1960. They lived in Dillon for ten years before purchasing a ranch southwest of Twin Bridges. He loved working on his ranch. Eventually, he built an indoor arena where many people—children and adults—learned to ride and rope and hone their rodeo skills. He and son Rooster were still hosting and participating in their team roping jackpots.
Benny qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 11 times, competing in bareback riding, steer wrestling and bull riding. He was among the top 10 all-around competitors each year. He was the 1960 NFR Average Bareback Champion, the 1961 World All-Around Champion, and the Reserve All-Around Champion in 1964. Benny won the inaugural Linderman Award in 1966, which is given to the contestant earning the most money in a combination of three or more rough stock and timed events. He is only one of two Montanans to win the prestigious award to date. In 1981, Benny became eligible to compete in the National Old Timers Rodeo Association. He went on to win the all-around title seven times, and 13 other titles.
In 1993, Benny was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO. He was inducted into the National Senior Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2011.
He was preceded in death by: his wife, Mary Elizabeth Reynolds; father Frank Reynolds; mother Gertrude “Brownie” Smith; step-father Don Smith; and brother Louis Reynolds.
Survivors include: siblings John (Earlene) Reynolds, of Dayton WA, D.J. (Mary) Smith, of Melrose, Donna (Pierce) Rouse, of Dillon; special friend and companion, Sharon Cunningham, of Butte; children Skip (Aprille) Jordan, of Missoula, Rooster (Cynthia) Reynolds, of Dillon, Jenny (Jesse) Peterson, of Dillon, and Louis John (Jamie) Reynolds, of Twin Bridges; grandchildren Montana Reynolds, of Sacramento, CA, Jessica (Matt) Lewis, of Orem, UT, Justus and Jace Peterson, of Dillon, Millie and Mary Reynolds, of Twin Bridges; and great-grandchild Alex Lewis, of Orem, UT.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be conducted on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Twin Bridges High School Gym, followed by a potluck reception.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UMW Rodeo Team, University of Montana Western, 710 South Atlantic, Dillon, MT, 59725, or to donor’s choice.