Erna Jones


(Oct. 11, 2006)

Erna (Schoen) Jones, 98, died Wednesday, Oct. 11 at West Park Long Term Care Center in Cody.

She was born July 15, 1908, in her grandmother’s house in Hanover Township, Iowa. She was the first of three daughters (Lydia and Alvina) of Robert and O’Tillia Schoen. She grew up on the land, learning all the ways that the richness of nature supports the family farmer.

She married Willis Jones in 1930, and to this union were born a son, Wilmar Ward Jones, who died shortly after birth, and a daughter,

Beverly, in 1933. Erna and Willis worked on farms in Iowa, for the Deter Ranch near Ten Sleep, farmed near Schleswig and later Manilla, Iowa, then bought and operated a ranch in the Rapid Valley of western South Dakota.

The couple eventually purchased a huge cattle ranch along Sage Creek in the mountainous beauty of southwestern Montana, near Dell. The 47 Ranch became a model for cow-calf operations, and Erna was at the middle of it all. She cooked, split wood for the kitchen stove and heating stoves, milked Brown Swiss cows, raised white Leghorns, kept the ranch books and raised a huge garden. She was regionally famous for raising the largest cabbages (heads the size of basketballs) and for which she earned the blue ribbon at the Beaverhead County Fair.

Erna loved flower gardens, including her favorite varieties, blue Bachelor’s Buttons. The presence of Mountain Bluebirds, as brilliantly blue as the big Montana sky, always put a smile on her face.

Erna was gentle and soft-spoken and small in stature. She was also incredibly strong, resilient, uncomplaining and kind. In this way she remains in the memory of her family as lively and beautiful as the gently-rolling prairies on which she spent most of her life.

Survivors include her daughter, Beverly (Bill) Kolacny of Clark; six grandchildren, Terry (Eve) Shorb of Prescott, Ariz., Jim (Wanda) Shorb of Powell, Ellen (Steve) Bales of Cody, Brett Kolacny of Clark, Bart (Loydrenna) Kolacny of Powell and JoAnn (Jerry) Denny of Clark; 13 great-grandchildren, Josh (Trish) Shorb and Danny Shorb of Powell, Justin (Ashley) Shorb of Hampstead, N.H., Tanya (Cory) McGregor, Shelly Bales and Kassie Bales, all of Southfork-Cody, Colt Kolacny, Melissa Kolacny and Eathan Kolacny, all of Powell, Orin Denny, Jessica Denny, Kevin Denny and Jake Denny, all of Clark; and one great-great grandchild, Ashlyn Grace Shorb of Powell.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Willis Ward Jones; her parents; a son, Wilmar Ward Jones; and sisters Lydia and Avina.

Cremation has taken place, and her remains will be placed near those of her husband on a native grass mesa on the Nowhere Ranch, near the Montana-Wyoming border at Clark. Ballard Funeral Home, Cody, assisted with arrangements.