Born in California in 1923 of German, Dutch, and Cherokee heritage, Sharon Shoulders moved to Oklahoma in 1935. She met future husband Jim Shoulders in 1941, and they married in 1947. The couple honeymooned in New York City, where she had her first rodeo experience as a rider in the Madison Square Garden arena.
The Shoulders bought a ranch in Henryetta, Oklahoma, in 1951 and, while her husband racked up an unequaled record in rodeos across the country, Sharon “became a 1950s pioneer ranch woman,” tending cattle, mending fences, hauling water, and raising four children. When Jim established the Mesquite Rodeo with Neal Gay in 1958, Sharon “of necessity” became an arena timer and secretary. She helped produce rodeos from Virginia to Hawaii, and from Calgary to Pecos. She also judged various PRCA rodeo queen contests and was actively involved with her son in national high school rodeo. Throughout these years she also actively supported the local PTA and Girl Scouts.
With the establishment of the first rodeo riding school on Shoulder’s ranch, Sharon mastered all the office work for the program, as well as all the cooking for the students and workers. In the late 1980s she began breeding and raising registered Salorn cattle and served as president of the International Salorn Association. She also has served on the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Heritage Association. For her many contributions to rodeo sport, ranching tradition, and western values, Sharon Shoulders received the Tad Lucas Memorial Award in 2005.