Fannin Co. Rodeo To Continue Despite Founder's Death - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Fannin Co. Rodeo To Continue Despite Founder's Death

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FANNIN COUNTY, TX -- Organizers of a popular rodeo plan to continue with this year's event, even after the death of the man who started it all.

The founder of a rodeo near Bonham that still bears his name died yesterday, less than a week before this year's rodeo is set to begin. It's an event that through one man's persistence became a tradition.

It was during the Depression and the war years when a Fannin County boy born in 1936 grew up with a love of farm life, horses and cows.

"People just didn't have as much and you just had to do what you could," says the rodeo organizer's son, Marty Kueckelhan.

As a boy, Haynes Kueckelhan admired Western stars like Gene Autry and the "Lone Ranger" and dreamed performing in his own arena. Eventually, he decided to build one himself.

"The first year they didn't have any bleachers for the people and I've heard my dad tell the story many times, that they went to the church and borrowed the church pews," says Marty Kueckelhan.

Family members say it was back in 1955 when Haynes Kueckelhan organized the first rodeo here at his parents ranch, and they say despite his death, they plan to continue with next weekend's rodeo.

"That's what he'd want. He'd want it to continue and the show goes on," says Kueckelhan's pastor Kevin Lane.

The rodeo that started with a makeshift arena and handmade posters grew to become an event generations have attended at the ranch north of Bonham for the past 57 years.

"Haynes was always one to make improvements every year. He'd make improvements and it didn't happen overnight," says Marty Kueckelhan.

Haynes Kueckelhan died Friday at a Plano hospital of injuries he'd sustained in a fall at home, his son said. He was 77. Now, his family is left with many years of memories.

"Family is important and that was one of the things that Haynes would talk about," says Lane.

"God's blessed me to be able to work with my dad all my life," says Marty Kueckelhan.

Haynes Kueckelhan had retired from teaching agriculture at Sam Rayburn ISD. The funeral is tomorrow at the Bois D'Arc Creek Cowboy Church at 4 p.m. The rodeo starts on Thursday.