On March 14, 2022, Joseph Lewellyn Toohey (88) journeyed from this world to the Promised Land, joining family and friends who had been waiting. He battled cancer for a little over a year. The last couple months before his death, he resided at Holy Rosary Residential Living in Miles City, MT.
Joe was born to Matthew & Lyda Rose (Wheeler) Toohey on March 13, 1934 in Lame Deer, MT while the family lived on the Green Leaf, currently owned by the Wally McRae family. During his youth, he cowboyed for various outfits in that area. In 1952, he enlisted in the Navy, “so I could get a regular meal.” This was during the Korean War where he was assigned to the Air craft carrier – USS Mindoro CVE 120. He traveled all over the world and served from Sept 1952 to March 1955. On the conning tower of the ship, was a painting of Minnie Mouse in a cowboy hat and boots, the “Mighty Minnie”. He helped run the hydraulics of the elevator as a Machinist mate 3rd class. They were called the “black gang” because at one time they shoveled coal into the furnaces. Upon discharge in 1955, he returned to Ashland, Montana where his good friend Gordon Gould introduced him to his sister Myrtle. Joe & Murt dated for 3 months before getting married. A year later, they welcomed their first born, Lana Jo. At that time, Joe worked near Seeley Lake, MT, building electrical line while Murt & Lana lived in Broadus. In 1957, they moved to Sundance, WY and this is where his life career began with Tri-County Electric Assn. (currently, Powder River Energy Corp). In 1958 they moved to Moorcroft, where their 2nd daughter Vanda was born in 1960, Gwyn would later join this little family in 1964. Son, Matt later joined the family as a young infant. The family moved to Gillette in 1968 where Joe oversaw Tri-County’s new set up readying for the big oil boom. He started out initially as a lineman and was later promoted to Line Superintendent before he retired in 1996 after 38 years. He then bought a cow herd and eventually opened 2E Couriers. Joe remained in Gillette until 2021 when health reasons merited him live with his daughter and son-in-law on the Cathey Ranch near Hammond, MT.
Joe was a story teller and a good one at that! Fondly, he would tell stories of the local Northern Cheyenne people . . . Indian War cries coming from mothers sending their sons off to war in Korea or Vietman or hearing the sound of tom toms drumming in the night before he went to sleep on the Green Leaf. At times Joe would say, “So winna” meaning, “no kidding”. He was also known for calling Murt a “she’ sawney weho” – crazy white woman. “Bisco” Spotted Wolf, great horseman and Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Council of 44 was one of his best friends. Joe wasn’t Cheyenne himself but a member of the Seneca Iroquois Nation, Tonawanda Band, Beaver Clan and the Assiniboine Sioux tribe from his mom’s side. His dad Matt was full Irish.
He could surprise you with his knowledge of history, birds and all things wild. Interestingly, he was even techie at times. One evening, his grand-daughter Erin was having some difficulty tuning her guitar and he said, “Isn’t there an app for that?”
Joe guided elk hunters for a number of years for the Heart Six Ranch near Jackson, WY. He was an avid rifleman, a true expert. He had re-loading artillery down to a fine art. Often times he would get calls from friends and even people he didn’t know asking about loading techniques or different aspects of guns and scopes. He competed often in Pierre, SD during the Varmint Hunters Assoc. “Jamboree Shootout”. In 2005 he placed 1st in the Limited Open Class, 2009 placed 2nd in the Unlimited Open Class and in 2010 he placed 1st in the Stock Class. Shawn Remley was his partner in crime for all things guns. Joe and Butch Knutson spent many long days and nights running traps and calling in coyotes.
Team Roping was a long time favorite of his. He healed for Bud Maher and Dick Remley (#1 partner in Crime for all things) for many years. He was a part of the Poor Boys Roping Club. In his later years, Dick and he would travel to compete in the Old Timers Rodeo Association.
Through the years, he associated with a “rough” bunch, the likes of best friends – Jack Castleberry, Bill Percifield, Gordon Gould who later became his brother-in-law, John Zook, Jack Zimmerschied, Dick and Shawn Remley, Harold and Mark Nielson and Keith Fare who became more than just a car dealer to him.
Joe is survived by daughters – Vanda (Curtis) Cathey of Hammond, MT, Gwyn (Mike) Martinson of Gillette, WY and son – Matt Toohey of Billings, MT, sister – Eva (Glenn) McKelvey of Ashland, MT, brother – Leonard Toohey of Ashland, MT, sister-in-law – Nancy (Gordon) Gould of Miles City, MT and grand children – Robert “Beetle” Lara, Erin (Clint) Knutson, Riley (Mike) Johnson, Tyler (Keasha) Martinson and Bree (Cory) Martinson and his many great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his very dear childhood friend, Evelyn Eiken-Ball of Anchorage, AK who gave him much joy everyday for many years, over the phone, until his death. He is preceded in death by his wife Myrtle of 58 years, daughter, Lana Toohey, grandson, Billy Lara, great-grandson, Devin Lara and his parents Matt and Lyda Toohey.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at the American Legion Hall in Gillette, WY. A Graveside Service will be held on Monday, March 28, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at Valley View Cemetery in Broadus, MT. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.