When I first heard that a young man had died at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo, I wanted to know his name, his age, about his family, did he have any children of his own, and whether he was traveling alone. Throughout the weekend I was asked by many, “Did you hear what happened to the bronc rider who died at the rodeo?”

Skee Cameron Burkes was born in Prescott, Arizona on April 17, 1997, to Jeffrey and Dee Ann Burkes. The family moved to Texas prior to his first birthday. From the minute he learned to walk, Skee was a lover of animals. He surrounded himself with cats, dogs, horses, and an occasional bottle-fed calf here and there.

Beginning at a very young age, Skee could play music by ear on his toy piano, recreating songs he heard on the radio. He had a creative eye for art, drawing many pictures on the walls of his bedroom with his crayons. As a young school-aged student, he loved history and those who made it.

In his obituary, his mother Dee Ann wrote:

Skee's early influencers were Jesus Christ and Davy Crockett. Skee learned about Jesus as a young boy at the McLean Baptist and Methodist Churches and was baptized at the age of 10 in the Christoval Baptist Church. He was convicted in his beliefs and enjoyed sharing the good news of Christ with anyone he came in contact with.

As Skee grew, he became quite the horseman, competing in cutting, team roping, bronc riding, reining, and team penning. He and his horse Smarty were a force to be reckoned with, winning over 50 buckles at a number of events. He was competitive in 4-H, North Texas High School Rodeo, AQHA, and NRCHA organizations.

He loved the arena, his horse, and the music playing over the loudspeakers. He constantly expressed his artistic talent by doodling and scribbling on fenceposts, walls, tables, and his own arms. His artistic side led him to custom leather work, where he created cowboy boots, chaps, belts, wallets, purses, and more.

Skee marched to the beat of his own drum. His musical interests included Elvis Presley, and he visited Graceland on a couple occasions. His other favorite artists included Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, and AC/DC. He played any instrument he could pick up and took his guitar with him wherever he went.

He lived in Lubbock and was employed by Pronghorn Oil as a field supervisor at the time of his passing. As a 26-year-old young man, it appears Skee was living life to the fullest and with no fences to keep him corralled.

The Taylor County Expo Center Board of Directors and employees are committed to helping Skee's mother, Dee Ann Littlefield, and Skee's family to offset funeral expenses. As big-hearted Texans, we too can donate; simply go to the WestTexasFair&Rodeo website or click here.

There will be a memorial service for Skee at the Henrietta Cowboy Church on Sunday, September 17 at 2 p.m. Davis Funeral Home in Henrietta will be handling the service.