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Lee Kittelson
September 25, 1947 - September 23, 1993
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First posted Jul 28, 2013
Last update Jan 20, 2020

Lee died of AIDS on September 23, 1993

Lee Kittelson

September 25, 1947 - September 23, 1993

2014 Hall Of Fame Inductee

Extracted from the 1994 Bay Area Rodeo Program

Lee was born and raised in Beach, North Dakota. He spent his summers traveling, with his uncles on the rodeo circuit and working on their ranches. That's when Lee first developed his love for the rodeo.

Upon graduating from high school, Lee served a tour in Vietnam and came home as a highly decorated sergeant. After being discharged from military service, he attended college in Montana and competed in amateur rodeos in the bull riding and team roping events.

Lee moved to Denver in 1975, where he worked as a blacksmith, trained and raised quarter horses and eventually worked as a sales representative for a western tack company.

Worlds Toughest Rodeo Program Cover

Lee started competing in gay rodeos at the National Reno Gay Rodeo in 1983. That year he was selected to represent gay rodeos as the grand marshal of the "World's Toughest Rodeo" at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lee was proud to be selected for this honor, and the proceeds went to benefit the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center of New York.

With his love of competition and rodeo, Lee became involved in the expansion of the sport. He was instrumental in shaping what is now the International Gay Rodeo Association by serving as a delegate from Colorado at the first International Gay Rodeo Association convention.

Throughout his rodeo career, he earned many buckles and All-Around titles. He won the first International Gay Rodeo Association all-around Cowboy in 1985, winning six out of the 13 final buckles that year. Lee competed in gay rodeos until his passing. His favorite event was team roping. By participating in the sport of gay rodeo, Lee believed that he could help break down some of the sterotypical barriers placed upon gay people. Lee, by any stretch of the imagination, was not stereotypical.

Once in a while someone special comes along who reaches out and touches everyone who has the privilege of knowing him. Lee was such a man. With his smile, enthusiasm and easy going manner, a stranger instantly became a friend. Lee had a family of friends who extended across the continent, and his presence will sadly be missed.

Although you are no longer with us, Lee, we will carry you in our hearts forever.

Lee is survived by his partner of eight years.

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