The Texas Ranch Roundup chooses to recognize outstanding ranches who, over a lifetime, have shown in word and deed that they have earned the respect and admiration of the livestock industry. These ranchers have never sought out the limelight or public acclaim. The representative of the breed of men and women who individually shaped the Texas cattle industry, they are modest, honest, quiet and unassuming. Their success, in a lifetime pursuit of the cattle business, makes them worthy of consideration as role models for generations to come. Indeed for young people contemplating a career in the ranching business, their accomplishments and exploits are an inspiration. The history of the cattle industry is made up of a patchwork of individual stories of hard work, cow sense, sacrifice, luck, and accomplishment. The Trailblazer Award winners and their stories typify this colorful history.

2023 Trailblazer Award Winner:

Bill Phinizy

Bill was born in 1935 to Jack and Mabel Phinizy in Lamesa, Texas. He kept a half Shetland mare named Patsy in the back yard that he would ride bareback to visit friends around town. The summer before his senior year of high school, he worked at the Pitchfork Ranch with the wagon at the Croton Breaks and then at the bunkhouse.

Bill graduated from Texas Tech in 1957, where he was on the rodeo team and studied Animal Husbandry. He was drafted into the Army and served in Germany before coming home to ranch with his father in Gaines and Borden Counties.

In 1964, Bill returned to the Pitchfork to work for Mr. D Burns and then for Jim Humphreys as assistant ranch manager. While there, Bill was introduced to Mary John Espy, a ranch-raised Texas Tech student from Sonora, Texas. They were married in 1968, and Will and Kate were born while living at the Pitchfork.
In 1972, Bill took a job overseeing the Texas ranches of Mr. L.R. French, including the L7 south of Crosbyton.

In 1974, Bill and the family moved home to ranch with Jack, and the ranch south of Gail has been home ever since. While ranching is his primary occupation, Bill has dealt in ranch real estate, been a feed rep, and sold PRF drought insurance – all of which has kept him near the friends and the ranch country that he enjoys so much. Bill is an Honorary Director of the TSCRA, and along with Mary John has been very involved with the Ranching Heritage Center at Lubbock.

He and Mary John were married 50 years before she passed away in 2019. They have five grandkids.

“Ranching is a continuing education. I like seeing the different ways people go about it. This industry has the best people in the world. This award is very humbling.”


Previous Trailblazer Winners

  • Pete Bonds
  • Billie Farley, Jr.
  • Jimbo Glover
  • Don Carter King, Jr.
  • Weldon Hawley
  • John Moorhouse
  • James Gholson
  • Mike Stephens
  • Emry Birdwell
  • John Welch
  • Jack Whitten
  • Jim Link
  • Joe Self
  • Mac Daniel
  • J.R. Edwards
  • John Merrill
  • Alvin “Cotton” O’Neal
  • Robert (Bob) H. Moorhouse
  • Ronald Lewis
  • Bill Craft
  • Tom Moorhouse
  • Billy George Drennan
  • Wilson Scaling
  • John Glenn “Sonny” Halsell
  • Dudley “Dud” Ellis
  • Tom B. Saunders IV
  • Bob Byrd
  • Glen McFarland
  • Bill Flowers
  • Richard Bumpus
  • Rusty Tinnin
  • Keith Slover
  • Paige Baize
  • George Self
  • C.M. “Buzz” Dolan
  • Rusty Culp
  • Rob Brown
  • Charles Schroeder
  • Bob Thompson
  • Matlock Rose
  • Buster Welch
  • Jim Ed Basham
  • Joe O’Neal
  • Boots O’Neal
  • Wes O’Neal
  • Melvin Mason
  • Ted Burkett
  • James E. White, Jr.
  • J.N. “Buzz” Thorp
  • Lawrence Harmel
  • Sheep Morrow
  • Dick Harper
  • Luke Smith
  • Helen K. Groves
  • Manford Elliot
  • Richard K. “Dick” Montgomery
  • Don C. King
  • John R. “Rich” Anderson
  • Dr. Wm. J. “Dub” Waldrip
  • N.L. “Boss” Winter
  • J.J. Gibson
  • Ted Gray
  • John Vance Stevens
  • Lathan A. Withers
  • John Gaither
  • O.W. “Ted” Sorrells
  • Bob Morris
  • Roy Boone
  • Wright Hock
  • Bill Hemphill
  • William Henry Green, Jr.
  • Piney Eiland
  • George Truett Self
  • Carl V. Self
  • Jim Humphreys
  • Virgil Johnson
  • G.L. Proctor
  • Richard Aubry “Aub” Stokes
  • Tom Blasingame
  • Jack Idol
  • Foy Proctor
  • Watt Reynolds Matthews
  • Joe Parker, Sr.
  • Frank Derrick
  • G.D. “Nig” London
  • Emry Birdwell, Sr.
  • J.C. “Togo” Moorhouse
  • Bryant Edwards