Manzell Shafer

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Manzell Leroy "Shafe" Shafer

(Former chief operating officer of
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo)

Political party Independent[1]

Born September 16, 1944
Trent, Taylor County

Resident of Missouri City, Texas[1]

Spouse Nancy Nell Antilley Shafer
Religion Jewish[1]

Manzell Leroy Shafer, also known as Shafe Shafer (born September 16, 1944)[1], is a Texas agricultural legend who was prior to 2014 the long-term chief operating officer of the popular Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in Houston.


Shafer was reared in Trent in Taylor County, near Abilene, Texas. As a youth, he became acquainted with the Houston rodeo at which he showed both steers and heifers through the 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America. He enrolled in 1963 at Texas A&M University and graduated in 1967 with a degree in agricultural journalism. Shafer said that he could not have attended TAMU without receiving generous amounts of financial aid. At the university, he was the editor of The Agriculturist Magazine and a member of the Corps of Cadets. He fought in the Vietnam War as a United States Army helicopter pilot. After flying 327 combat sorties, Shafer became involved in public information liaison and piloted network media correspondents aroundn South Vietnam. He later obtained a master's degree in technical journalism from Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa. His wife, the former Nancy Nell Antilley (born January 13, 1945), also grew up in Taylor County, twenty-five miles from Shafer. Her family has strong roots in both farming and ranching. She graduated from the Southern Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and became a science teacher.[2]


Shafer began working for the livestock show and rodeo in 1973 as assistant manager for public relations and handled the transition to the Astrodome after vacating the Sam Houston Coliseum. During his tenure, he helped turn the rodeo into an entertainment destination for millions of annual visitors. He brought popular musicians to perform, including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, the Jackson Five, Sonny and Cher, and Tony Orlando & Dawn.[2]

Besides researching and securing entertainment for the livestock show, Shafer became involved with the rodeo scholarship program on behalf of Texas youth. The first scholarship from the rodeo was awarded in 1957. Since the rodeo has provided nearly 17,000 scholarships totaling more than $200 million. Currently, 2,200 Texas students attend 80 institution on rodeo scholarships. The Shafers also have established a series of planned gifts through the Texas A&M Foundation. One of the scholarships through the Association of Former Students is named for Neal "Clint" Ward, one of Shafer's former roommates who was killed in action in the United States Air Force in Vietnam. "History, culture, and education are all integral parts of the Houston Livestock Show as well as values held in high esteem at Texas A&M," Shafer said.[2]

Since retiring from the livestock show, Shafer has devoted much of his time to his interest in photography.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Manzell Shafer. Retrieved on May 2, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Molly Kulpa, "Rodeo Royalty: Texas agricultural legend Manzell Leroy "Shafe" Shafer '67 and his wife Nancy establish an impactful planned gift for Texas A&M", Spirit of Sharing: Office of Gift Planning Magazine, Texas A&M University, Spring 2018, pp, 6-9.