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Our amazing and wonderful father, Earl Ben Stucky passed away peacefully on May 4, 2023, to be with Jesus and his beloved wife, Glenna. Earl was born in Gallatin County in Bozeman, MT on November 2, 1934, to parents Ben and Marie Stucky and was one of four children. Their family owned a farm on the Gallatin River about 1-1/2 miles west of Gateway. The young Stucky family worked hard doing a number of diverse things to make ends meet ranging from running cows, raising registered sheep and selling rams, raising hogs, to even growing out 2000 head of range turkeys one year. But most of all Ben was a fine horseman and passed on his knowledge to his son, Earl, who broke and trained many horses, both saddle and draft horses, for area ranchers and dude strings. He worked steadily alongside his dad on their place, developing skills and passions that would serve him well for the rest of his life. Growing up, Earl was a member of the local 4-H club and in fact so was his future wife, Glenna Krueger. The young couple married on November 24th, 1954.
Earl and Glenna took over running the farm and continued for the next 12 years raising kids and starting a registered Angus business. What started out with 28 cows, grew to 150 head, and it was always a challenge to find pasture and grass, so some were run on shares. Some of that pasture was found on the Flying D Ranch, an approximate 25-mile square ranch, set between the Gallatin and Madison rivers. In 1967 there was a change in management at the Flying D, then owned by the Irvine Company. Jeff Dorsey was named manager and he was looking for a new cow boss. Earl had pastured cows on the Flying D and put up the hay on the Home Ranch of the Flying D for three years, so he had earned a good reputation. He was hired as Cow Boss and he and his family moved to the Madison. He had a full-time cowboy crew of 6 or 7 steady cowboys, but at different times of the year there might be 12-15 riders working. The ranch ran around 4000 cows plus the yearlings. There were also 75-100 strays every year that had to be sorted out. They also took in lease cattle and summered cattle for a number of different local ranches. Over a thousand head of horses were wintered there and every spring there was a 3- or 4-day Horse Round-Up. Most of them were Yellowstone Park horses, but there were also dude ranch horses and other various ranch horses. What a time that was!
It was always Earl’s intention to run the ranch as an old-time cow outfit. They had no trucks or horse trailers to haul cattle or horses around. They trailed their cavy, because at times, they would ride as far as fifteen or twenty miles before even getting to the job at hand done. The bulk of them were circle horses, but also there were horses that were used for sorting or moving cattle or whatever the task at hand was. This afforded him ample opportunities to ride many different horses and make true “ranch horses” out of them. One of Earl’s favorite horses was Pauper, a gray gelding bought for the ranch from Ronnie Hymus for $150!
The cowboys worked hard and rode hard, but they also had time to have a little fun, too. Earl told of different times riding back or forth to Cow Camp and coming across a bear, coyote or cow elk and roping them just for fun!
Summer Sundays were often spent at teamropings, rodeos, or some 4-H function. Earl planted seeds of horse sense in each of his kids. There were always cow-dogs. Still are. Earl and Glenna had been looking at different ranches for a time as so much of his time was away from his wife and five kids, plus they still had their own cattle to care for. Weekends were too short to get everything done and his family was growing up without him.
The Stuckys leased the Keiley Place and moved to Avon in April of 1976. There were many new adventures awaiting, particularly in finding all the different bog holes in the hay meadows! The 10,000-acre ranch was rich with grass, water, and beauty, but there were lots of fence to fix, corrals to build and vacant buildings to get back into shape. Summer hay was put up using a Beaver Slide and stacked loose. Wintertime feeding was done with teams, even using a 4-horse hitch to pull hydraforks to feed out wild timothy hay in deep snow.
In 1991, Earl and Glenna were able to purchase the Keiley Ranch and continue to build their cow numbers by adding outside grass. A goal Earl always had was to say he ran a thousand head of cows – a goal he now had met. The ranch was honored to be featured in the French documentary “Wild Lives” that centered on the theme of generational ranching. The Stuckys were also showcased in the film Last American Cowboy produced by BASE productions and the Montana Film Office. Earl was honored to be inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2019. He has served his community and industry as board member of the Montana Stockgrowers; Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers; Draft Horse Hall of Fame; Nevada Creek Water Users. He was a true, authentic cowboy who oversaw the well-being of his family, animals, and land in the most caring way.
Earl is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Glenna whom he missed so much; parents, Ben and Marie Stucky, grandson Roy Edsall, granddaughter Hattie McIntosh, son-in-law Merle Edsall, and long-time family friend, Ken Olsen.
He is survived by his children Earline (Mick) Goettle, Sharon Edsall, Cal (Renee) Stucky, Jill (Bill) McIntosh and Becky (Larry) McLaughlin, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, sisters Caroline Phillips and Vera Evenson, and brother Jim Stucky; sister-in-law Lenita Hough and many nieces and nephews whom he adored.
Services will be held May 15th at 2:00pm at the Avon Cemetery with a luncheon following at the Avon Clubhouse. Memorials may be sent to the Avon Community Club, Avon Cemetery or donor’s choice.
Please visit the sidebar to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Earl.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Earl and his famiy.