In the spring of 1940, the year he turned 12, John left home and introduced himself as “Jay” from that point on as he began the journey of his work career that took him to a Kansas wheat ranch, then to Texas where he rousted cattle; it was there that Jay learned the art of roping cattle in a single throw.
In 1946, Jay began his hitchhiking trip to Wyoming, joining his eldest brother Lee working the Green River Drift.
In the early spring of 1947, Jay moved to the Thermopolis and Owl Creek area. He then made his way to Cody, where on June 20, Henry Larsen hired him to work on the Larsen Ranch on the Wood River west of Meeteetse. That day began a bond with Henry and Helen Larsen, their family, and ranch that would last for decades. In December 1949, Jay married the Larsens’ daughter, Ethel.
He broke numerous saddle horses, and had a natural talent with horses, and this ability was not limited to horses. He also trained several dogs as his helpers.
Jay rounded out his far-ranging career that had spanned more than 60 years helping out at the Antlers Ranch and as a cowboy and horse trainer at the Pitchfork Ranch.
Jay was happiest sharing stories of his cowboy life with his three grandsons and his friends.
He is survived by his son Jay (Connie) of Cody; three grandsons, Aaron (Chris) of Powell, Colin (Lori) of Texas, and Brian (Cari) of Arizona; great-granddaughters, Ashley and Leah, great-grandsons, Johnathon, Matthew, Jason and Jacob; sister-in-law Peggy Moody of Sheridan, special friend Joanne Chenowith of Cody, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Ethel Larsen; parents; and his four siblings.
A celebration of his life will be held in the spring after the cows are turned out on green grass.
Ballard Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.