Cover photo for Jim Leroy Warvell's Obituary
Jim Leroy Warvell Profile Photo
1936 Jim 2020

Jim Leroy Warvell

May 2, 1936 — December 27, 2020

Jim Warvell, a gold card member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, and an inductee to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, passed away on Sunday, December 27, 2020 in Fort Worth, TX. Jim was born May 2, 1936 in Darke County, Ohio, son of Dill “Lefty” and Helen Schlechty Warvell. Jim grew up playing a lot of baseball and spending time around horses. His grandparents worked the land with horses and his grandfather was a blacksmith. He was born very close to where “Annie Oakley” was born. Jim struck out on Wild West shows and the rodeo circuit as soon as he left high school. He started following the R.C.A. (Rodeo Cowboys Association) entering into these events. He met Janice Wilkey (aka: Jan Warvell), a Roman Rider and Trick Rider, who was born in Sullivan, Indiana. They decided to get married and started a long career in specialty acts. They had contract acts in rodeos, fairs, and Wild West shows that took their family all over the world; including places like Japan, England, Singapore, Kuwait, and Brazil; not to mention countless shows across the United States and Canada, which included venues like Madison Square Garden in New York City and The World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec. Jim and Jan had two daughters, Toni, and Sonna. In 1962 the family bought a place in Weatherford, Texas. In addition to being an avid horseman and entertainer in the western world, Jim also raised and trained Thoroughbred Racehorses, he owned a barbeque restaurant called Mr. Jim’s BBQ, and was the author of the book “It’s Been A Wild Ride.” Toni performed with the family as a Roman Rider and Trick Rider until her mid 20’s. She then became involved in competitions with Cutting Horses. She has remained involved with the western world. Sonna started performing with the family at 4 years old. She continued on performing with stage work featuring trick roping, whip cracking and gun spinning. Taking the legacy full circle to the history of Darke County, Ohio. In 1992, Sonna landed the principal role as “Annie Oakley” in a Wild West Show at Disneyland Paris, in France. The entire family, Jim, Jan, Toni, and Sonna were together and honored in January of 2010 by being inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. After many years of loving each other and performing together, Jan passed away January 1, 2011. He is survived by daughters Sonna Warvell, and Toni Warvell; brothers Jack Warvell, and Joe Warvell.
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