Bert D. Boughton, horseman, rancher, auctioneer, legislator, lover of thoroughbred race horses and accomplished musician (he could play anything with strings) passed away Saturday, October 27, 2018.
Bert was the son of pioneers who homesteaded in the rough Missouri country near Haxby, NorthEast of Jordan in Garfield County. He was born on the family ranch August 10th, 1933 to his mother Bernice Boughton (Gaslin) and father Bert A. Boughton. He grew up as a cowboy learning the values of hard work and resourcefulness of ranching life that only someone from that area of the world would understand. By the age of 10, he was doing everything the older men were doing and was sought out as a wrangler because he could rope the wild horses no one else could catch. The oldest of 4 he was “big brother” to Sarah (Tobel), Jessie (Merwin) and Jan (Bickle). He went on to school in Jordan graduating in 1950 and attending auctioneering school in Billings shortly after.
He put his newly acquired auction skills to use right away as he sold cattle auctions at the sale yards in Sidney, Glasgow and Miles City as well as Dickinson ND, and Lemmon SD through the 1950s and 60s. He also performed as master of ceremonies at countless rodeos, fairs and festivals across eastern Montana. A longstanding member of the Cow Capital Turf Club he announced the horse races in Miles City every May for over 40 years.
In addition to operating his own cattle ranch at Haxby he was elected to the state legislature representing Garfield County over two terms from 1964 to 1968. He left state government in 1968 to raise his family. He was married for over 35 years to his wife Pauline Boughton (Tom) and they welcomed two sons Bert (Dee) born February 18, 1965 followed by Bryon (Booey) September 4, 1967.
Bert and his family moved to Miles City full time in the mid 70’s and he eventually sold the ranch in 1977. In doing so he was able to fulfill his passion for thoroughbreds as he embarked on the journey of building a successful world class stable of horses. His love of these beautiful animals, and his desire to understand their bloodlines and history turned him into a “walking encyclopedia” of knowledge. He put his talent for reading pedigrees to great use when he would travel to the yearling sales in California where he sat beside the biggest names in horse racing. Success followed as he and the family travelled to race meets all over the western US and Canada through the 80’s.
By the time his kids were completing school in Miles City and going of to college Bert knew it was time to draw down the racing schedule, but he remained active with horses, cattle and farming throughout the remainder of his life. He also enjoyed travelling each fall to see his son Bryon play football for Rocky Mountain College.
Born at the height of the depression Bert was eminently conservative and very frugal with how and where he spent his resources. He was a master at “repurposing” and “up-cycling” decades before those terms were even thought of. He had an uncanny ability to fix just about any old broken-down piece of farm equipment with his imagination and some baling wire. He was also a deep thinker in a very practical sort of way. He had hundreds of little euphemisms he would casually drop in at just the right moments to help make his point. For instance when promoting the idea of working smarter not harder he would remind his kids (with regularity) “you should never, do on oatmeal that which you can do on gasoline” or for anyone who cared to know how to make a small fortune in farming and ranching “you start with a big one” he’d always say.
On the flip side, Bert also liked some of the finer things in life. Of course, no one would ever know this by the vehicles he drove or the old trucks and tractors he kept stitched together (note previous baling wire reference). This was only evident to the trained eye of someone who knew anything about guitars, mandolins or fiddles. He took great pride and pleasure collecting some of the most sought-after instruments available even having his Weber mandolin custom made and adorned with his eldest son’s quarter circle – dot brand.
His love of old school country music and bluegrass fueled his desire to play the guitar which he learned to do in the dormitory in Jordan with his best friend and brother in law Richard Tobel. This was a gift that he shared with thousands of people from barn dances, bar rooms, and churches to weddings, funerals and memorials. He literally played to the end of his life as his last “gig” was playing a benefit concert at the fairgrounds the night before his fall.
In addition to his two sons, Dee and Bryon and their wives Karla and Kerri, Bert took great delight in being able to spend time with, and love his grand kids, Bryon’s sons Braeden, and Bridger, and Dee’s sons, Conor, and Cole.
In his later years as he slowed down he took keen interest in all the sports and activities of his grandkids always checking in for updates on scores and batting averages. He also turned his attention to volunteering his time and musical talents to the senior drop in center, nursing homes and numerous benefits. He also enjoyed playing for his church and volunteering with meals on wheels.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation in his name be made to Range Riders in Miles City MT.
A visitation will be held at the First Baptist Church from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. A Celebration of Bert’s Life will be held at First Baptist Church, 900 Palmer Street in Miles City at 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 3, 2018, followed by internment at the Miles City Cemetery.