In Lubbock, Texas, a tragic rodeo accident at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene claimed the life of a local bronc rider, Skee Burkes. The 26-year-old’s family is now sharing his story and their plans to honor his legacy by helping others in the rodeo community.
Skee Burkes was thrown from a horse on September 9 and succumbed to his injuries. His mother, Dee Ann Littlefield, remembers him as an oilfield supervisor, a custom leatherwork artisan, a horse rider, and even a stage performer at Blue Light. She fondly recalls his zest for life, saying he extracted more joy from a single day than most people do from an entire week.
Burkes’ larger-than-life personality was evident in everything he did, and he was known for his kindness and generosity. His sister, Kalico Burkes, has been touched by the numerous stories she’s heard about her brother’s selfless acts. She said, “Everyone saying he’s one of a kind, he was one of a kind just solidifies everything that we knew about him.”
Bronc riding was a lifelong passion for Burkes. As a child, he would pretend to be a bronc rider, and as he grew older, he turned this childhood fantasy into reality. His hometown of Henrietta, Texas, was where he rode his first ranch bronc in high school.
The night of the West Texas Fair & Rodeo was supposed to be a routine ride for Burkes. His mother insists that the tragic accident does not reflect his riding skills or his character. “He had been doing this for 10 years,” she said. “He has won a lot of belt buckles bronc riding; he was an incredible horseman…this was truly a freak accident.”
Upon hearing the news of her son’s accident, Littlefield felt an immediate sense of loss. She later learned that he was thrown off and the horse stepped on his head. Despite the tragedy, the rodeo continued, a decision that Kalico believes her brother would have supported.
In the wake of their loss, the family has found solace in their faith. Littlefield believes that her son’s spirit continues to serve a greater purpose. To honor his memory, the West Texas Fair & Rodeo and Taylor County Expo Center Board of Directors have established a fundraiser for the Burkes family. The funds raised will cover funeral expenses, with any remaining money going towards a rodeo scholarship in Skee Burkes’ honor.