Frank was born May 27, 1918 on his family’s homestead on Meeteetse Creek. Frank had four older sisters: Clara, Alma, Fannie and Katie, and also a baby brother, Howard, who died at age 3. Frank and his siblings were raised by their parents, Estelle and Herbert, through the Great Depression. He graduated from Meeteetse High School in 1936. Frank began working for the Pitchfork Ranch when he was 12 years old, and continued until the Phelps and Beldon families split the ranch in 1946. From 1946 to 1982, Frank was livestock manager and sheep foreman for the Bar TL Ranch, caring for the sheep, cattle, horses, fields and men. He always talked about how “all of the ranch work was done with a team of horses and good-working men.”
Frank married Ernestine “Teen” Nicholson on June 19, 1943. Frank and Teen celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary this year. They raised two children, Frank Lee and Ann.
Everyone who knew Frank always thought of him as being the toughest man they had ever met. He overcame a lot of obstacles in his lifetime. Frank contracted polio when he was 3 years old. He told of the time when his parents put him on a train to Hardin, Mont. to visit a doctor and have braces put on his legs. He was only 8 years old at the time. He wore the braces for several years and doctors predicted that he would be wheelchair-ridden for all of his life, but he would not let that happen. He made himself walk and work hard every day of his life until he retired in 1982. Even after retirement he kept busy helping take care of his son’s garden and a few head of sheep.
He loved going back to the ranch to haul his grandchildren to the bus stop in the mornings. He just couldn’t get ranch work and life out of his system. Frank could always be counted on to help anyone with anything whenever possible. He never stopped taking care of his family.
Frank is survived by his loving wife Ernestine “Teen”; son Frank Lee “Smitty” (Wanda); daughter Ann Williams; grandchildren Holly (Thor) Smith, Jenny (Grady) Rogge, Dawny Warner (Williams), Shannon (Rick) Williams, Greg (Amy) Williams II; great-grandchildren Lacey and Crystal Smith, Aden and Drew Rogge, Cydney Cox, Kale Hammer and Kellen Williams as well as many nieces, nephews and loved family members.
Funeral services for Frank will be Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. at Ballard Funeral Home in Cody. Burial will follow at the Meeteetse Cemetery.
An online memorial is available at www.ballardfh.com.