Vernon Avant

Obituary of Vernon G. Avant

VERNON G. “SLEEPY” AVANT, PRCA GOLD CARD HOLDER, AWARDED THE PURPLE HEART, was born in Fowlerton (La Salle County), Texas in 1932, and died at the age of 90, on January 28, 2023, in Salinas, California. At the time of his death, he was living in Aromas, California. Sleepy lived most of his life in California and competed throughout the state in RCA/PRCA rodeos as a bull rider.

Sleepy’s early life was spent primarily in the Fowlerton/Cotulla area of South Texas, whereas an early teenager, he primarily worked on are ranches rodeoed in “open” rodeos and Wild West Shows. Sleepy’s first actual interest in rodeo started when he was about 14 years old. He rodeoed up until the time he joined the army, at age 17.

On November 15, 1950, Sleepy voluntarily joined the US Army, and, after bootcamp, was sent to the Koreon Conflict, assigned to U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division, 23rd Regiment, Texas. Serving as a Combat Medic he was awarded the Purple Heart after sustaining major injuries after stepping onto a land mine, losing his leg. The next seven months were spent in Letterman Military Hospital in San Francisco, California where he underwent numerous surgical procedures. Sleepy was formally released out t of the Army April 30, 1952, now with a bk prosthetic leg.

After being released form the Army, he remained living in San Francisco Bay area for numerous years, primarily, to remain close to Letterman Hospital, which specialized in extended medical care for wounded amputee, military veterans. Although he stayed connected to Texas and family and returned “home” to South Texas every few years to visit, he never moved back to Texas.

His military related injury caused him to make numerous adjustments I his “norma,” civilian life situations. Although his work/employment opportunities were then somewhat limited, in his love for the life of a rodeo cowboy he remarkably returned to riding bulls with a prosthetic leg. Sleepy joined the (professional) RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association) in the era of the 1950s and maintained his annual membership throughout the rest of his life. He eventually relocated to the San Jose are of California, where he met and subsequently married a young horsewoman, Debbie Wahrer, in 1972. Sleepy and Debbie celebrated their Golden 50th Wedding Anniversary in May 2022. Sleepy continued to ride bulls in RCA/PRCA rodeos, primarily produced by Rodeo Producers Cotton Rosser, Rodeo Stock Contractors, Christensen Brothers and Growney Brothers. Eventually Sleepy was awarded a PRCA GOLD CARD MEMBERSHIP.

Sleepy was employed for twenty-five years as a lithographer, then in various stages of Water Well Drilling, Manger positions for a Machine Shop, Metal Recycling Co., Commercial Plumbing Company and lastly, Self Employed doing Fiberglass Repair.

Throughout his life, Sleepy was known to be an entertaining, extemporaneous public speaker and, in 198, at the age of 66 years, he enrolled in and graduated with the 184th class of Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Montana where he earned certification as an Auctioneer. After selling at a local Auction House, Small Animal Auction, Benefit Auctions and California Draft Horse Sales, in 2008, Sleepy settled in with Garlic City Auction in Gilroy, California, for the next twelve years.

As a hobby sleepy collected, restored and exhibited Early Day Gas Engines and was a long-time member of Branch 3 of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, a Nation Wide Club.

Sleepy and Debbie lived nearly all their married life in Aromas, California.

Tuesday October 24, 2023, please join us at 3:30 p.m. for the Military Service and Columbarium Interment at the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery on the former Ft Ord, 2900 Parker Flats Cut Off Road, Seaside, CA 93955.

The Celebration of Life will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Garlic City Auction Gallery, 60 W 6th Street, Gilroy, CA 95020. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Family Stories and Sharing.

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Vernon
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Healey Mortuary and Crematory
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