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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tribute to Reagon Walker, Extreme Bulldogging

Reagon Lynn Walker  July 16, 1989 - April 23, 2011


At the final night of the Annual BUC-DAYS Miller Lite Pro Rodeo, the arena was in full house.  The PRCA event, held at the American Bank Center, is south Texas Premier Rodeo where local folks come out to enjoy the cowboy way dressed in the latest western fashion.  Buc Days is a celebration remembering the early days of south Texas when Buccaneer's Pirated the Gulf Coast and the beginings of the American Cowboy. Each year, the Buccaneer commission provides fantastic entertainment as well as support the educational opportunities of area students.


As my son Austin and I found our seats, the lights began to dim.  Sound engineer, Benje Bendele of Crazy Heart Sound and Lighting adjusted the sound board and Rodeo announcer Boyd Polhamus begins the opening ceremony introducing Gary P. Nunn.  There was this huge excitement in the audience as Nunn began singing "What I liked about Texas".  The spot lights move towards one side of the arena and there, mounted horseback rode Miss Rodeo Texas, Celeste Harvey who was presenting the Texas flag. As she rode through, the flag waved and her rhinestones sparkled brightly. The song brought out the pride of  Texas to everyone in the crowd.  As Gary concluded the song, the grandstand filled with applause and the cries of excitement echoed, "GOD BLESS TEXAS."

Then the lights then went dark.  The crowd soon became silence when Boyd spoke. "Tonight we have lost a great Cowboy. Tonight we have lost a great Texan." After a short paused, he continued, "Tonight we have lost a great Cowboy. PRCA Steer Wrestler Reagon Walker, the son of 1981 World Champion Steer Wrestler (Byron Walker) has died."

I had heard about his tragic traffic accident the day before reading several posts on facebook. One of which read that Reagon was currently in ICU with his mother at his side. Another note, from Tootie Bland, who indicated she had talked with Reagon's grandmother Mickey Walker, requesting we keep Reagon in our prayers for his recovery.

As the Rodeo announcer continued to speak, he began giving a Rodeo Blessing honoring a prayer in Reagon Walker's name. I stood there, head down, my son standing next to me. Devastated, I began to feel a tremble.  Perhaps shocked to learn of his death. He was only 21 years old.  I thought, how would I feel if this had been my son who was torn from life. How tragic for a parent to endure such extreme grief. How could God take anyone so young?  This was Easter weekend.  A time to celebrated amongst family and Church gatherings. A weekend taking photos of kids in their Sunday's best. Traditions often sharing family love, family dinner and family memories. A time to remember.

Jesus was sacrificed forgiving our sins. On the third day, he rose as the Holly Spirit and today lives for those who believe and accept Christ. God gave his child for the love of man, and yet are we not of his creation as Gods children?  As the announcer continued to pray, I seem to drift into my prayer for his family, his friends and the many that knew this young man. That the grief and sorrow find comfort.

As the prayer concluded, once more Gary P. Nunn took stage.  All spot lights focus to the center of the arena where the beautiful American Flag rested in the carry of Miss Rodeo. As Gary began singing the Nation Anthem, I placed my hand over my heart.  I have heard this song ten thousand times before. Sung from Naval Ships, to foreign lands and at every start of any sport competition. Each word piercing with projected thought. Memories of fellow service men, women, fallen friends and hero's.  As I heard the words, "That our flag was still there, " I reflected to every conflict in my life time. The contentions of southeast Asia, to the desert sands of the middle east, to the bullishness within our city streets, or radical hatefulness which seem to haunt me from each evenings news.  Here I stood proud of a nation. Proud having my son at my side. Perhaps a selfish joy, yet also a heartfelt weep of discomfort.  Thoughts drifting, ideas and hope that wished one day man could live among other men in total peace. Where men could find respect and appreciating others for who they are with out prejudice. To one day live were it doesn't matter whether a man wears a turban, judenhut or a Cowboy hat.

My heart felt tight. My swallow dry as a lump seem to build in my throat. My eyes became watery. Then I reflect again on the young man we honor tonight. His life so tragically was taken. His memory would forever be embraced by all those who knew him. How proud his parents must have been of him during his time of living. How proud I am of my own son who has yet held to the many victories of this young man.

One can never understand the many questions of why, though each with reason. As I rationalize within my own mind, perhaps God's calling was the need for a Champion. The need perhaps for a Steer Wrestler who could bulldog the evils among men in the glory of God. Where evils can be thrown too their back and man can live in peace.

As the Rodeo began it's first performance, the Steer Wrestlers where first to perform. Each wearing a black arm band that my son question why they would do that. I replied, "It's in honor of a man they all have come to respect."  

Reagon Lynn Walker, PRCA Steer Wrestler was born July 16, 1989. He grew up in Ennis, Texas with a love for horses and the Cowboy life. He was son to 1981 World Champion Byron Walker.  Reagon, living in College Station, Texas was traveling along with his girl friend Kaitlyn Larsen, of Weatherford, Texas to Oklahoma for a National Cutting Horse Association Event when they had a tragic auto accident which occurred on Highway 281 outside Jacksboro, Texas near Dallas. Kaitlyn was taken to a Ft Worth Hospital and now release.

Reagon, a 2008 graduate of Ennis High School joined the Professional Cowboys Association quickly moving his rankings upward. In 2010, Reagon won the Henderson County PRCA Stampede held in Athens, Texas with a 3.5 second score along with a win at the Lions Club PRCA Rodeo, Crockett, Texas. Ranked 82nd in the World Championship for 2010, Reagon qualified for the American ProRodeo Finals in Waco, Texas earning second place and was on the leader board for 2011.

Reagon was one of Texas Youth Rodeo's most decorated competitors earning two All-Around Cowboy titles, Two Champion Steer Wrestling titles and Reserve Championship in Cutting. He attended Weatherford College on a rodeo scholarship before entering the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association.

Playing numerous Defensive position, Reagon was a strong LION with Ennis High School Varsity Football Program. During his attendance, Ennis H. S. earned several titles 2008 Area Champions 11-2, 2007 Bi District Champions, 2006 Bi-District Finalist, 2005 Area Champions, 2004 4A Div I State Champions.


He enjoyed Rodeo and Cutting Horses a;ways working kindly training his horses. His renewed passion of cutting horses led him to meeting his sole-mate, Kaitlyn Larsen, who shows in the Cutting Horse Circuit. Kaitlyn survived the accident, had just earned Reserve Championship-Classic Non-Pro on April 16th at the Fort Worth NCHA - XTO Energy Super Stakes Cutting Champions .

Reagon leaves behind his beloved mother – Mary Walker, father – Byron Walker, 2 grandmothers – Mickey Walker & Marty Warren, uncle – Danny & Debbie Lynch, 3 aunts – Liz & Kenneth Nolen, Patricia & Lex Hayes and Teddie & Chris Duval, cousins – Chris Lynch, Kim Hermus, Patty Lynch, Little Lex Hays, Keith Hays, Taylor Dobbs, Jewel Duval, and many other cousins. He also leaves behind God-parents Mike & Cindy Blasingame, Mark & Lesa Wallace, also Rip and Cheryl Helton, as well solemate Kaitlyn Larsen along with fellow cowboys and friends, too numerous to count.

Reagon was admired amongst his fellow Cowboys. He will be greatly missed by those who had the pleasure of hearing his laugh and seeing his smile. His strive to perform his best at every endeavor which always lead towards becoming a champion.  While I never met Reagon, I know I would have been honored to have had that opportunity. He was a true Texan. He was a true American Cowboy.


Reagon Walker with Kaitlyn Larsen


Tribute to Reagon Walker, Extreme Bulldogging 

In honor of his memory, I would like to share the following poem, by  A. E. Housman
To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high. 


To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town. 


Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose. 


Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears: 


Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man. 


So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.



And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful tribute to my Grand Nephew Reagon. It was beautifully done and helps us all fill another little hole in our hearts.

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  2. Kim Smith FelchakApril 25, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    I am so sorry to hear of this young mans passsing. I grew up in Ennis and went to school with the Walkers. I cannot imagine how you must feel at this time, as I have a 23 yr old son myself. Hold on to your memories. Surround yourself with family and Faith. I will be praying for all the families.

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  3. Thank you for your kind words. "Perhaps God's calling was the need for a Champion. The need perhaps for a Steer Wrestler who could bulldog the evils among men in the glory of God. Where evils can be thrown too their back and man can live in peace." Ride high in the Saddle Reagon.

    Eric

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  4. Byron and Mary,
    I am very, very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. You both are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Alyse

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  5. Beautiful post for a very sad story...

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  6. As I sat in the kitchen of Mary and Byron Walker this morning she read this blog printed on paper that had been handed to her by a friend at the visitation last night. Touched by the words we all cried as she stated "I have got to know who wrote this article." Your kind words of how Reagon's story touched you in the stands of the Corpus Christi Rodeo brought tears of joy to Mary's eyes and peace to her heart.
    Thank you for the well written story and words of encouragement during such a tough time.

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  7. I had the Great Honor of knowing Reagon Walker, roping with him and his father, working rodeo's,helping him practice,compete, and mature into a great young man. It truely is life changing knowing that he is gone! Remembering his fearless smile and his youthful drive to be the best at everything he ever did, his only goal was to make his family proud, or die trying. Today one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life as a grown man, was to ask Mary Walker for Reagon's Hat and Boots and spurs to setup at the memorial service. This in no way compares to what she had to hand over to the Lord at 12:30 Saturday April 23rd, 2011. Thank you for this great post to remeber a great young cowboy, Rest In Peace Reagon Lynn Walker

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  8. If this doesn't bring a tear to your eyes, then one should check their status as a human. Beautiful tribute. R.I.P Reagon.

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