James W “Jimmy” Kaaro

James W “Jimmy” Kaaro

Lewistown, Fergus County, Montana, USA
Death 30 Jun 1979 (aged 62)
Ravalli County, Montana, USA
Burial Lewistown, Fergus County, Montana, USA
Memorial ID 77132376 · View Source
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James W. "Jimmy" Kaaro

Introducing 2011 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee…

James W. "Jimmy" Kaaro (1917 - 1979)

James W. "Jimmy" Kaaro was born in Great Falls, Montana, June 21, 1917, and passed from this life while trick roping at the Sheriff & Peace Officers Association Convention in Hamilton, Montana, on June 30, 1979, one day after his retirement from the State Labor Dept.

He was adopted by John and Ellen Kaaro when he was three months old, and raised at Fergus, Montana. He received his education at the Fergus school and attended Fergus County High School in Lewistown, Montana.

Jimmy Kaaro was one of the finest trick ropers in the world. His performances included circuses, rodeos, fairs, and the Johnny Carson Tonight Show in 1965. He was one of nine trick ropers in the world selected to rope at the only world's trick roping contest ever held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1966. Jimmy was also in the Circus Hall of fame.

In 1930, when he was in the ninth grade, he quit school to break horses for $2.50/head. He rode his first bucking horse at a rodeo in 1933, at age 16. He trailed horses from the Fergus/Roy area to Lewistown. He spent two summers in Glacier Park working for the Saddle Horse Company. They ran between 1,500 – 2,000 horses, his job was to break them and make them tourist friendly. In between seasons, he rode for Ervin & Arnold Smith of Winifred, MT, in their Wild West Show in Wisconsin. In 1934 he went to Fresno, CA and worked on a dude ranch. It was there in California that Jimmy got his first taste of trick roping, a true love that never left, it was then he started practicing and learning tricks.

In the 1930's, he served in the U.S. Calvary in California and rode jumpers. This unit was disbanded in 1942. He enlisted in the Army during WWII and was discharged in October, 1945, due to a motorcycle accident in which he received a badly broken leg and spent more than a year in the hospital. While in the Army, he roped and performed at USO shows to entertain fellow troops. After the war, he performed in a Wild West Show in Georgia, Cole Bros. Circus in Louisville, KY, and the first televised circus in Buffalo, NY, in 1948.

In 1942, he married Betty Moyer in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1953, Jimmy, Betty, and daughters, Bonnie and Debbie, moved back to Lewistown. He was involved in law enforcement as Under sheriff for Fergus County for ten years and Fergus County Sheriff for two years. After he retired as sheriff, Jimmy and Betty divorced. On July 30, 1973, he married Shirley Egger Hansen.

Summers still found him performing at rodeos and fairs. In March, 1965, he performed in the Colosal Circus World Museum Parade in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on his Appaloosa horse, Arapahoe. Arapahoe was a free range horse he caught by Fergus, MT, and did all the training by himself. Arapahoe lived to be 25 years old. His last performance was when he was 24 years old at the Helena Last Chance Stampede and Fair.

Information was collected from the Western Horseman by Bill Yaeger, Mar 1965; Helena Independent Record Ap 27, 1977; Denver Post Feb 18, 1979; Lewistown News Argus

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  • Maintained by: Cyndi Berg Jearman
  • Originally Created by: Jim Harrison
  • Added: 26 Sep 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 77132376
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James W “Jimmy” Kaaro (21 Jun 1917–30 Jun 1979), Find A Grave Memorial no. 77132376, citing Lewistown City Cemetery, Lewistown, Fergus County, Montana, USA ; Maintained by Cyndi Berg Jearman (contributor 48225207) .