Bernard “Bernie” Fredrick Riley
June 18, 1934 – August 11, 2018
Born in eastern Montana into a cattle ranching family, Bernie was a happy, cheerful child who grew to become a cattle rancher in his own right. Fiercely independent, Bernie chose to live on his own from the age of 15 so he could attend high school in Miles City rather than in the country. He had a lot of friends and was a good student. Bernie supported himself working weekends for several local ranchers, namely the Camerons, and cleaning out the town fish hatchery. Winning the Miles City high school rodeo “All Around Cowboy” belt buckle in his senior year, 1950, was one of his proudest achievements. His skills shoeing horses came in handy when as a young man he struck out for adventure with pal Tom Dudley bound for upstate New York where they worked at the Hidden Valley Dude Ranch. Bernie was responsible for keeping 70 horses shod and performed for the guests in the weekend rodeos, participating in the team roping and steer wrestling competitions. It was there he met Diane LeBuis whom he married in 1959. Bernie and Diane moved back to Montana, working for several area ranchers before purchasing their own ranch near Ekalaka. Together with their four children, they moved to Billings in 1969 where Bernie managed a feedlot and later established his own feedlot operation. Missing the ranching life he returned to his ranch in 1974 which he operated independently until 1994 when he moved to Miles City due to health reasons. There, Bernie enjoyed the steady companionship of his many lifelong friends and neighbors, playing innumerable games of whist and pinochle at the Senior Citizens Drop-in Center, and regular visits from his family. Bernie died peacefully in his home with his daughter Kim at his side. He is survived by his daughters Kim Kolstad and Kelly Nelson, sons Clark and Brian Riley, sisters Helen (Melvin) Green, Beverly (Gary, dec.) Green, Carol Lynn Fellows, and Marcella (Jim) Correa. Bernie is also survived by nine grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Bernie was preceded in death by their parents Dwight and Alice (Ketchum) Riley, and older brother Robert Riley. Bernie will missed by his family and friends who will most remember his indomitable spirit, fierce determination, and a wry sense of humor turning a phrase with artful cuss words only as needed and where acceptable. He was one tough man.
A celebration of Bernie’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, August 18th, 2018 at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City, followed by a reception at the Range Riders Museum. Bernie’s ashes will be laid to rest in the Custer County Cemetery at a later date. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Miles City Senior Citizens Center or the Range Riders Museum.