Rodeo cowboy legend Alvin Nelson, 80, a member of a half dozen halls of fame and North Dakota's only world-champion saddle bronc rider for 24 years, has died.

Mr. Nelson, of Grassy Butte, died Dec. 23 at a hospital in Rochester, Minn., according to Fulkerson Funeral Home.

Mr. Nelson won the saddle bronc world championship in 1957 at Madison Square Garden in New York. He qualified for five Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, winning the saddle bronc riding average at the finals in 1961 and 1962 and the all-around title in 1961 in Dallas.

Mr. Nelson told the Minot Daily News in 2004 that he remembered his 1957 title well.

"The rodeo lasted three weeks in September, and at that time, it was the world's largest rodeo according to prize money, number of spectators and the number of contestants," he said as he was preparing to be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

Mr. Nelson was a member of the "six pack," a group of North Dakota bronc and bull riders who dominated the rodeo circuit in the 1950s. He is a member of two national rodeo halls of fame, as well as halls of fame in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana. He was a native of Mobridge, S.D.

The Army veteran will be buried in Grassy Butte Cemetery with military honors.
- AP