Levi Garcia Roper Was Called ‘The Legend’
Roy rancher was a three-time national rodeo championship winner
Levi Garcia had his own pony by 3, was competing in rodeos before he turned 16 and was called “The Legend” well ahead of the late June day he died.
Garcia, a three-time winner at the USTRC (United States Team Roping Championships) National Finals of Team Roping, accumulated more than 152 saddles, two trucks, seven trailers and 300 belt buckles as part of his winnings over the years.
He was 73 when he died June 27 in a horse-riding accident.
To his family and the many around the town of Roy where he lived or others who knew him, he was “just a regular cowboy” — a cap, long-sleeved shirt and Wrangler jean-wearing friendly sort who stopped to say hello if he came across you on a vacant, dusty road.
“He just worked hard at what he did,” said Debra Garcia, a daughter-in-law who spoke on behalf of the family. “And through hard work and determination, he won.”
An estimated 1,500 people, including friends from out of state, arrived at the Roy High School gymnasium to pay their respects to Levi Garcia during a memorial service earlier this month.
Liberato “Levi” Garcia had lived in Roy since 1979, but was born in the village of Garita — his mom, Rumalda, ran a little gas station and bar, while his father, Juan R., ranched.
Garcia, who wed Confie Gonzales in the early 1950s, worked for the state Parks and Recre- ation Department for 37 years. As a park superintendent he was stationed at Conchas Lake and then Chicosa Lake. Before that, Garcia worked for the T-4 Cattle Co.
Throughout his life he was a rancher, with cattle in such places as Roy, Garita and Trujillo.
“That’s what he raised his kids doing; they were around ranching and rodeo forever,” Debra Garcia said.
Levi Garcia, in a September 2005 article that appeared in Superlooper Magazine, said, “I always told the kids to treat their horses with love, respect, and dignity; to look the situation over and never make a horse do anything they wouldn’t do themselves.”
All his four children, the magazine reads, attended college on rodeo scholarships.
Garcia was a team roper, though he also competed as a calf roper. Over the years, he partnered with family members, including his children and grandchildren as well as rodeo greats such as Jake Barnes, J.D. Yates, E.V. Dorsey, Kress Jones, Bronc Curry, Frank Matthews and Leo Camarillo, reads the Superlooper piece.
His family said the prize he treasured most was the jacket he won with his grandson, Dathan, three weeks before his grandson died as the result of an auto accident.
It didn’t matter cold, windy or uncomfortable the weather might be, Garcia could
be always be found practicing.
“He worked hard at it,” Debra Garcia said. He also spent time roping with youth, she said, and served as a mentor.
“He lived to help young kids get started, help them win.”
State Rep. Miguel Garcia said his cousin broke barriers and built bridges in the sport.
“People really respected that in him. He kind of opened up opportunities for the native New Mexican, the Hispano cowboys and cowgirls to really get into the national rodeo scene,” Miguel Garcia said. “He was just an overall good cowboy, but he was an outstanding New Mexican who contributed greatly.”
Garcia’s family said he was a positive person; a kind, patient, understanding man who never raised his voice. He lived by simple standards — he didn’t covet a fancy truck or trailer — and he was strong in his faith.
“He put God as a priority,” Debra Garcia said, mentioning that when he did win in competition, he made a donation to his church.
“He taught his children responsibility, humility; work hard at whatever you are doing and there are no excuses in life, just rights and wrongs,” Debra Garcia said about him.
Levi Garcia was an active member of Holy Family Parish.
He is survived by his wife, Confie Garcia of Roy; mother, Rumalda Garcia of Tucumcari; children, John and his wife, Fara, of Springer, Jimmy and his wife, Debra, of Roy, Jeanette Garcia of Roy, and Danny and his wife, Janie, of Las Vegas, N.M.; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Levi Garcia of Roy was known as “The Legend” for his rodeo winnings. He died last month as the result of a horse accident.