Raymond Everett Smith passed away March 26, 2019 at the Niobrara Community Hospital in Lusk, Niobrara County, Wyoming. He was 86.
Raymond was born November 18, 1932 at Newcastle, Weston County, Wyoming, the son of Everett Minis George Smith and Ida Alice (Sedgwick) Smith. He went home to the place his parents had leased south of the Cheyenne River in Northern Niobrara County. There for the first five years of his life he was a typical country boy.
When he was six years old his parents divorced, and he and his three older sisters moved to Lusk with their mother. When he wasn’t attending school, Raymond did odd jobs – mowing lawns, working at the pool hall or the livestock barn, or hitching a ride to a ranch southeast of Van Tassell in Nebraska where Buzzy Hoover raised rodeo stock to practice riding a bronc or bull. Most of his summers were spent with his grandfather, Anthony Sedgwick, at his Cheyenne River ranch. Raymond always credited his grandfather for his basic ranching knowledge.
Raymond left school at the age of sixteen to work on ranches. He worked for Frank Coffee at the O Ten Bar out of Jay Em, Leda and Max Maxfield east of Hat Creek, a ranch on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana, and George Mill.
By now Raymond had caught the “rodeo bug”, and he went on the rodeo circuit, competing in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana where he met up with a few of the greats – Freckles Brown, Jim Shoulders, Casey Tibbs. He rode bareback bulls and participated in wild horse racing. In 1951, Raymond won the Western award belt buckle at the Niobrara County Fair in Lusk, and while he was competing at the Custer, S.D. Night rodeos, he had a chance to be an extra in the movie War Bonnet that was being filmed in Custer State Park. He poised as an Indian brave as he had in the Legend of Rawhide.
Then the draft caught up with Raymond. He served actively in the Army from February 3, 1953 to February 2, 1955 and was on standby reserve until honorably discharge on February 2, 1961. His boot camp training was at Camp Polk, Louisiana before being stationed at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma where he became a member of the 522nd Infantry Battalion Silent Drill Platoon, which received many competitive awards and stood guard at funerals for dignitaries like the President of the United States.
When Raymond returned from the service, he went back to ranch work, taking positions where he was able to run his own cattle. Since he was a “get-the-job-done” person, he never had a problem finding a job. Over the years he was employed by George Christian, Harry Manning, Hobert Cockreham, Artie Joss, Murray Butler, and his uncle, Francis Sedgwick, Johnson Sisters, and Ruth Mitchell Grant.
On July 1, 1961, Raymond married May Ellen Ward, daughter of Zeb W. and Ruth (Hockett) Ward at the Congregational Church in Lusk, Wyoming. They worked together on the various ranches until the fall of 1985 when the decision was made to sell their cattle and move to Manville where May’s mother lived. With his stock trailer, saddle, and horse, Raymond kept a hand in the “ranching business” by going across the tracks and assisting Bill McCleerey when he needed an extra hand until arthritis and Parkinsons slowed him down.
In January 1987, Raymond was hired by the Town of Manville as their maintenance man, a position he held until the fall of 2008. Then he contented himself with various odd jobs as long as he could.
Ranching doesn’t leave much time for vacations, so it wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the “traveling bug” hit the Smiths. During the next twenty-one years, they managed to make tours of most of the states west of the Mississippi. One of Raymond’s last comments was “when the weather gets nice, we need to go on a long trip”.
Raymond was preceded in death by his grandparents, Minis John Henry and Lillie Lousia (McEvers) Smith, and Anthony Wilkinson and Paulena Dorthea (Thompson) Sedgwick; his father Everett Minis George Smith and his mother Ida Alice (Sedgwick) Foley; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Zeb W. and Ruth (Hockett) Ward; his oldest sister, Dorothy Ida (Smith) Leeling; brother-in-laws, Roy Lavern Leeling, Edmund Duff Hollon, Harold Thomas Harrington, Grant Robert Ward and his wife Ella Marie (Sides) Ward, and Charley Claud Ward.
Raymond is survived by his wife of 57 years, May Ellen of Manville; his sisters, Marjorie Lucille (Smith) Hollon of Douglas, Joan Frances (Smith) Harrington of Sheridan; a brother, Earl LeRoy Smith and wife Joyce (Dunham) of Boxelder, South Dakota; a brother-in-law, Fred E. Ward and his wife Kit (Ethel Morris) of Riverton, Wyoming; and a sister-in-law, Karey (DeHaven) Ward Hongola of Henderson, Nevada; plus twenty-one nephews and nieces and their families.
At his request there will be no services. His remains will be inurned in the Dellview Cemetery at Manville, Niobrara County, Wyoming. Memorials may be given to the Niobrara County Library or the Niobrara Community Hospital.
Pier Funeral Home is assisting the family.