Wisness dies suddenly at 27
August 6, 2008
ProRodeo steer wrestler Levi Wisness, who had goals of returning to competition next year after recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from the base of his brain in October 2007, died suddenly Sunday, Aug. 3, at a friend’s house in Stanley, ND. He was 27.
Funeral services were scheduled Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the Watford City (ND) High School gymnasium. Interment followed at Good Hope Cemetery in rural Keene, ND.
Wisness, of Keene, ND, was last seen late Saturday, Aug. 2, when he unexpectedly showed up for a friend’s wedding. He reportedly stayed with a friend that night but apparently died from natural causes and was found in his bed the following morning.
“He sure had his mind set on bulldogging steers again,” said longtime friend and traveling partner Clay Cowan. “He was on his way back after going through brain surgery and therapy last winter. He had a checkup in Denver two weeks ago, and it went well. This sure comes as a shock.”
Wisness, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, had a breakout season in 2007. He won the steer wrestling events at the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo in Rapid City, SD; Rodeo Austin (TX); the Red Bluff (CA) Roundup; and the Gooding County (ID) Pro Rodeo on his way to a 17th-place finish in the final Crusher Rentals PRCA World Standings.
Wisness completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments earlier this year but continued to experience double vision, a condition that would eventually improve over time, according to Cowan.
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“It wasn’t that he couldn’t see distance, but he was seeing two things wherever he looked,” Cowan said. “He was wearing a patch over one eye and was doing exercises to improve his sight. The doctors were talking about surgery in a couple of months.”
Prior to his surprise wedding visit, Wisness spent his time working at the Fulton Ranch in Valentine, NE, co-owned by veteran National Finals Rodeo qualifier Brian Fulton who, ironically, underwent two surgeries to remove tumors from his brain in late 2006.
“He (Levi) sure was doing well,” Cowan said. “He was getting his strength back working for Brian. He put up his hay this summer and was hazing steers for a some kids around there. He was getting everything back.”
Levi’s younger brother, Chase, suffered a broken back in a car wreck on June 1, 2007, while on his way to a wrestling camp, and is paralyzed from the chest down.
“It’s terrible news,” steer wrestler Jason Lahr told the ProRodeo Sports News at the Dodge City (KS) Roundup Rodeo. “I talked to him yesterday (Aug. 1) at about 3:30, and he told me everything was going well and said that he’d been chute dogging. He said he was going to a wedding and I guess he felt bad and laid down and didn’t wake up. His family’s been through Hell. His brother was in a wreck and was paralyzed from the chest down and two months later he (Levi) was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We lost a good guy.”
For obituary and to sign his memorial book, visit http://www.fulkersons.com/ObituariesDisplay.aspx?ID=420