Louis PearceLouis Pearce, a longtime cutting horse enthusiast and a staunch supporter of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, passed away December 26. Pearce, who owned NCHA Super Stakes Champion and NCHA Futurity Reserve Champion Chick Tari, also bred the prominent sire Especial.

“I was born wanting to be a cowboy, and I never quite succeeded,” Pearce once said, “but I guess the closest I ever got was the NCHA Hall of Fame.”

He was inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame in 1995, and is also in the AQHA Hall of Fame. He was a lifetime member of the Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and sat on the Executive Committee of the AQHA.

Pearce began ranching in 1938, and was President of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for three years (1967 – 1969), as well as serving 16 years as chairman of the HLS&R horse show.

He first became involved with the Show in 1939 when he bought a bull. In 1948, he began exhibiting Quarter Horses at the HLS&R. He was elected to the Show’s board of directors in 1961. Pearce served as a Show vice president from 1963 to 1965 and as secretary in 1966. He was elected to the Show’s Executive Committee in 1975.

During his Show presidency, an additional four acres were added to the Astrohall, , the rodeo purse reached $100,000, a commercial female cattle sale was added, scholarship amounts were doubled from $2,000 to $4,000, and the Grand Champion Steer sold for a record $31,000.

In 1970, Pearce was instrumental in signing Elvis Presley as a star entertainer, as well as George Strait in 1983. The bronze statue “Dreams and Memories,” located in Carruth Plaza at Reliant Park, was dedicated to Pearce in 1986. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Louis M. Pearce Jr. Board Dining Room is named in his honor.

Pearce was born in Houston Feb. 17, 1917, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis M. Pearce Sr.

In November 1940, he joined the army and served as a sergeant in the horse cavalry. Two years later, he went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kan., and received his commission. He was sent to Italy in 1943 where he served in all phases of the Italian campaign with the II Corps as an aide to Lt. Gen. Keyes, Commander of the II Corps. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of Major.

Pearce was a rancher since 1938 and operated commercial cattle ranches in three Texas counties: Brazoria, Atascosa and Maverick.

A 1954 mare named Smoky So helped get Pearce hooked on cutting.

“I had a reasonable amount of success with her,” he recalled in 1996. “I was able to compete back in the days before they had the Non-Professional cutting. Of course, I was competing against the Buster Welch’s and Matlock Rose’s. They beat me a lot more than I beat them.”

Arrangements are pending.