Alan Keith Etherton, 55, of Borden, Ind., died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, at his residence.
A rodeo cowboy and rodeo clown and a loving husband, father, son, grandpa, brother and uncle - he took his act to the Lord's arena.
Alan, he of the hard head and the get-er-done work ethic, brought love and joy beyond measure to all those whose lives he touched. Born on Nov. 22, 1960, to Don and Peggy Etherton, Alan was reared around the horses, dogs and cattle that would be mainstays in his life.
At 5 years old, he was competing in horse shows. He moved up to Little Britches Rodeo at 8, and that led him on a path from the Louisville, Ky., area to southern Illinois and rodeos at Arch View Stables in Belleville, Ill. It was at Arch View at the age of 17 he met the love of his life. Patty Rucker was 15, raven-haired and sharp-tongued and Alan's match in fun and fun-loving.
Their lives took some detours until March 17, 1990, when they married in Lake Tahoe and promised "until death do us part."
The newlyweds made their home up the hill from Alan's parents and welcomed their son, Shayde Wyatt, on June 21 1991. Just a few years later, father and son went to work together as Shayde joined his dad's rodeo clown act. Alan had no need for a greasepaint smile - his grin stretched from ear to ear.
Jayme Rucker joined the Etherton family not long after and years later would make Alan a proud "UncPa" to her own three children.
When Shayde followed in his father's rodeo footsteps, no dad beamed brighter. For close to 20 years, Alan and Patty traveled often to watch their son, now a top-notch steer wrestler, compete across the country.
They took a few non-rodeo trips as well and had hopes of returning to Punta Cana after they vacationed there in 2000. But the years of rodeoing and working as a heavy equipment operator took their toll on Alan. His body began to break down - yet even the pain he endured in his last months of life did not dim his ready smile, his love of family and his faith in God.
On Alan's last night, he walked into the kitchen. Patty joined him, asking if he was okay. He responded with words he had not spoken in some time: "Actually, I feel pretty damn good." A few minutes later, God called him home. As Shayde wrote about the loss of his father: "I know you're in a better place now and I guess God needed you more than me."
Go rest high on that mountain, Alan; your work on Earth is done.
Surviving are his wife of 25 years, Patty Etherton of Borden, Ind.; son, Shayde Etherton of Hico, Texas; daughter, Jayme Spaulding of Jeffersonville, Ind.; daughter, Cody Etherton of Bedford, Ind.; parents, Don and Peggy Etherton of Borden, Ind.; sister, Vicky Jones of Louisville, Ky.; mother-in-law, Joyce Rucker of Belleville, Ill.; sister-in-law, Debbie Rucker of Belleville, Ill.; a niece and nephew; and five grandchildren.
Alan was preceded in death his paternal grandparents, Fred and Ethel Etherton; and father-in-law, Jim Rucker of Belleville, Ill.
Remember Alan not with flowers, please, but with donations to the Kentucky Humane Society, 1000 Lyndon Lane, Suite B, Louisville, Ky. 40222. Or you can donate online at https://www.kyhumane.org/donate.
Visitation: Visitation for Alan will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at Garr Funeral Home in Sellersburg, Ind.
Funeral: Memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 at the funeral home. A funeral luncheon will be held at First Christian Church of Borden, Ind.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Jan. 12, 2016