by KIM HILSENBECK
This past Sunday marks one year since the death of 15-year-old Gunner Thames, an avid rodeo competitor in steer wrestling. Thames, who was a student at Hays High School, died of complications from a rodeo accident that happened weeks earlier.
Gunner’s parents, John and Brenda Thames of Buda, coordinated the Gunner Thames Memorial Rodeo, held last weekend in Wimberley. His mother said her husband came up with the idea to do something to keep their son’s memory alive.
“John wanted everyone to know who Gunner was,” Brenda said.
After the turn-out at the event, she said she could not believe how many people’s lives were touched by a 15-year-old.
“He was just so special,” she said.
Gunner’s brother, Rowdy Thames, is now a freshman at Wharton Junior College near Houston. The 19-year-old graduated from Hays High in May. He still misses his kid brother every day, but that hasn’t kept him from rodeo competitions, although he admitted it does give him pause sometimes.
“But it’s what I love to do,” Rowdy said.
It was what Gunner loved, too. In fact, he followed in the boot-steps of his big brother, who followed their father, John, into the arena. Rowdy said Gunner was good enough to go far in the sport.
“Yes ma’am, he definitely would have had a future in rodeo,” Rowdy said.
Of his little brother, Rowdy said, “No one will forget him.”