No cowboy in the history Reno Rodeo ever dominated his events the Joe Richardson dominated in the 1940s.
Richardson, one of the greatest ropers to ever come out of Nevada, was both a great team ropers and calf roper. He dominated the Nevada calf roping competition at the Reno Rodeo for years. He won the overall calf roping title in 1942 and also won the team roping title in 1941 with Levi Frazier of Pyramid Lake.
Born in Arkansas in 1897, Richardson moved with his parents to California in 1902. He grew up breaking horses and, during World War I, he served as a horseshoe instructor for the Army. When the war ended he moved to Nevada. “I met him when he first came into this country,” said Dr. Edwin Cantlon of Reno. “I can’t remember the year, but I remember he was riding a bay horse and leading a gray horse with a pack saddle and all his belongings on him. He spent the night at my uncle and grandparent’s ranch outside of Wadsworth.”
Richardson went to work for the Ceresola Ranch for a short time and also worked at the Monte Cristo Ranch near Pyramid Lake. It was there he met his wife, Dorothy, a New Yorker who had come to Nevada to get a divorce. They were married in 1929 and acquired a small homestead property in Olinghouse Canyon near Wadsworth. A few years later they moved to a small ranch on Lakeside Drive in Reno.
During the 30's and 40's Richardson started showing his considerable horsemanship skills in the Reno Rodeo arena.
Throughout his years on the ranch, Richardson shared his love of roping and riding with others, especially youngsters.
“He taught Steve Walther and Jimmy Halley, Harrie Frost and a lot of kids how to ride and rope,” Cantlon said.
That wasn’t his only skill, among other things, he was a good musician,” Cantlon said. “He used to play the violin and was an all-around good character.”
After his wife died in 1956, Richardson moved to Arizona to be with his daughter, Roxy. He liver there until his death in 1973. The 1989 Reno Rodeo was dedicated in his memory.