GEYSER – The rodeo community lost a legend over the weekend. Longtime Montana PRCA president Jim Croff passed away Saturday after a long battle against complications from a head and neck injury suffered in a horse accident in June of 2018.
The Croff family released a statement, shared by Montana Pro Rodeo:
“It is with great sorrow and pain that we share with you the death of our beloved father, husband, brother, and son, James (Jim) T. Croff, on Saturday, August 31, 2019. As many of you know, Jim had been battling an extreme head injury from his horse accident on June 10, 2018. While we are deeply saddened and grieving his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and no longer in constant pain and suffering. Jim was a friend to everyone he met and a source of strength for all who were fortunate to know him. Our family will be holding a memorial service and celebration of his life in the near future. Please gather with us at that time to celebrate his life. Thank you all for your prayers during this very difficult time.”
Croff, 62, began his professional rodeo career in 1977 and went on to win two Montana Circuit titles in saddle bronc in 1979 and 1980. He was part of the group of Montana cowboys that started the first circuit finals which he’s been a part of for four decades. After retiring from competition in 1993, Croff started working full-time running the Montana PRCA and the annual circuit finals. He was the driving force behind the success of rodeo in the Treasure State.
But his impact stretched well beyond the arena. Croff was known as a selfless man of high character and a family man who went out of his way to help others while making friends across the rodeo world.
Longtime Circuit Finals announcer Will Rasmussen said it’s hard to put Croff’s impact into words.
"I’ve been friends with Jim for an awfully long time. The friendship grew more and more over the years with us working together at the Montana Circuit Finals where he was a great leader and raised the circuit finals to not only the pinnacle of rodeo in Montana, but one of the, if not the best circuit finals of all in the United States,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of that credit goes to him, but as popular as he was in the rodeo world and well-known and liked, he was a great husband and a father and just a great brother to all of us."
And the Circuit Finals certainly won’t be the same without Croff.
“I can't imagine what it will be like,” Rasmussen said. “But he deserves every accolade and every bit of honor and love we can offer him on the second weekend in January. I'm sure that rodeo will be dedicated to Jim and his memory. And it'll be emotional for a lot of people.”