Levi Gar­cia Roper Was Called ‘The Leg­end’

Albuquerque Journal - - Couples - BY LLOYD JO­JOLA

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.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Levi Gar­cia of Roy was known as “The Leg­end” for his rodeo win­nings. He died last month as the re­sult of a horse ac­ci­dent.

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