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Meet the Member John Clymo
story by Lindsay King
An astute pilot of more than just airplanes, John Clymo has lived all over the world in his 63 years. However, he’s finally back where he feels most at home: Edgewood, New Mexico. “One side of my family is from New Mexico and they are all mostly bronc riders. My uncle rode in the PRCA, he planted the seed. I was a terrible bronc rider though. My mom encouraged me to rope calves.” The other half of John’s family is in Oklahoma and they are all mostly tie-down ropers. “I stopped riding broncs, but I was a pretty good bull rider. I started roping calves competitively when I was 16.”
Under the influences of Irv Fernandes and his close friend and rodeo legend Dean Oliver, John saw firsthand the reverence and respect given to men who truly earn it. This inspired John to chase his dream in every endeavor. Two degrees from the University of Puget Sound – business administration coupled with a law degree at a later date – have been instrumental in John’s achievements. Jacob, his son, followed in one set of his dad’s footsteps and became a commercial airline pilot. His daughter Tai took to the other set and is a barrel racer while also working in the same field as her dad. “Puget Sound didn’t have a rodeo team, so I competed in the summers in the PRCA.” That was in the mid-seventies and John was also on his college football team where he was the team captain. In 1975, he won his first professional calf roping. He’s now a gold card member of the PRCA.
John has never taken the bar exam or actually worked as an attorney, his law degree specifically helps him run government contracts. This career has taken him to a kaleidoscope of cities and countries over the years. One thing that has never changed is his love for rodeo. “During the years I was working overseas, I was going to maybe five professional rodeos a year. I just chose the ones I knew I could get mounted at.” In high school, John picked up steer wrestling and to this day it remains his favorite event. “From Florida to California and everything in between, I have rodeoed all over the country. I just love everything about it.”
Not one to simply compete and leave, John finds genuine enjoyment from watching every single rodeo event. “I even watch the grand entry. I really like the pageantry. I have been to the NFR just to watch it every single year since 1995.” John was at rodeo up in Montana when one of the greats inspired him yet again. “I saw Benny Reynolds enter and he jumped a steer at the age of 65. I was around 45 years old at that point. I said ‘man, I wish I could do that.’” John set a goal to still be a competitive steer wrestler at age 65. He is only two short years away from it. At the same time, he is also still roping calves and occasionally team roping, when he has a partner of course.
Moving back to New Mexico came at just the right time. John was ready to really jump back into rodeo with both feet with the help of his girlfriend and partner Debb Davis. “Last year was my first year in the NMRA and I was the calf roping director.” This year he serves as the incentive calf roping director. “The incentive program is for guys that are either past their prime or not quite at it yet. They still rope against the open ropers but there is a side pot just for them.” This is just one of many ways the NMRA is working to bring more competitors back to the association. “It is a really inclusive and close bunch of people. They want people that want to grow rodeo, we are not just contests we are truly fans of New Mexico rodeo. We just love the sport.”