Billy Joe Schaffer, 94, passed away on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at Broadus, Montana.
Bill was born to Carl and Canzetta Schaffer on August 1, 1927 at Clarendon, Texas. Bill had one brother, Carrol and two sisters, Dorothy and Kay. Bill grew up in the three corners area. His dad had a ranch on the Cimmaron River in New Mexico. They leased land in Colorado and they got their mail at Kenton, Oklahoma. Bill attended country schools through the 8th grade and he went to high school at Clayton, New Mexico. When Bill was seventeen years old, he joined the Navy. During World War II, he was stationed on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Mindoro CVE 120. The ship docked at ports in New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Spain, India as well as at different islands. Before Bill joined the Navy, his parents bought a ranch in Montana. Bill and two friends, Bud Davis and Rex Jones, all teenagers, boarded a train at Branson, Colorado and traveled with all of the family’s cattle and horses to Gillette, Wyoming. Bill, Bud Davis and Rex Jones unloaded the livestock at the stockyards at Gillette and trailed them to the new ranch on Hay Creek, north of Boyes, Montana. They had no map, no food or money and they could only make about 10 to 15 miles a day with the livestock. Bill said if it hadn’t of been for nice ranch ladies along the way, they would have starved. After driving the livestock to the new ranch, the three young men caught the train back to New Mexico. Bill left for the Navy as soon as he arrived. When World War II ended, Bill was honorably discharged from the Navy. He went home to Montana. There he met Mary Preston. They were married on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1948. They made their home on Hay Creek. Bill and Mary had three children, Ronnie, Connie and Debrah. Soon a niece, Bobby Jean Preston, joined their family.
Bill and Mary raised Quarter Horses and Hereford cattle. They added on to their original ranch several times. Their first purchase was the Hans Jacobson place. Together they built a nice sized ranch. Bill and Mary have been married 73 years. Over the years Bill did a lot of dirt work with Caterpillars. He built stock dams and diked the hay meadows. Bill was a good roper and had several buckles he won at both calf roping and team roping. Bill and Mary showed their Quarter Horses at many of the area shows. They had an entire set of shelves full of the trophies and ribbons they won. When their daughter Connie was MSU Rodeo Queen, the newspaper described her family as “horsey people.” That was a pretty accurate description. All the Schaffer’s like good horses. Bill was a charter member of the East Fork Roping Club.
Bill is survived by his wife Mary, his daughters Connie (Jim) Capp and Debrah (John) Capp; special niece Bobby Jean (Lee) Traub; sister-in-law Margaret Schaffer as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Bill was preceded in death by his son Ronnie, his parents Carl and Canzetta Schaffer, his brother Carrol, his sisters Dorothy Saye and Kay Rossen, his uncle and lifetime friend Rex Schaffer.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Broadus. Interment will follow in the Boyes Cemetery.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Boyes Community Hall.