NFR Qualifier and Stock Contractor Bernis Johnson Passes Away at Age 90

Stock contractor, seven-time NFR qualifier and Texas Cowboy Hall of Famer Bernis Johnson died at age 90 on Oct. 27.

Johnson was born in Cleburne, Texas and rode in all three roughstock events from age 15 on when he joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association. Between 1959 and 1966, Johnson qualified for four NFRs in bareback riding and three in bull riding.

After competing, Johnson founded B-J Rodeo Company in 1977 and owned five-time Bareback Horse of the Year Sippin’ Velvet.

“Bernis’ track record speaks for itself with his ability to raise and train bucking horses and rodeo bulls, period,” said Johnson’s friend since his teenage years CK Reid. “Bernis had a God-given talent to be able to spot the right animal and train that animal. At one point, it is very safe to say Bernis had the most prolific set of bucking horses and bucking bulls in ProRodeo.”

Johnson and B-J Rodeo also played a vital role in returning rodeo to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

“My dad you could call him a farm boy, but my uncles and aunts would always say he was a cowboy from the beginning,” his son David Johnson told “One of my uncles said one time when Bernis was a kid, anything with four legs he was always riding. It didn’t matter if it was horses, cows, or hogs. When my dad was riding there were no schools and you almost had to be self-taught. You were learning on the curve. He just had a natural ability (to ride) and he never had to think about it. He was just born to be a cowboy. It was something the Lord put in him that he didn’t have to try and be a cowboy. He just was a cowboy.”

Johnson was inducted into both the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2005.

He is survived by his two sons and two daughters.