Jay Stovall

Jay Stovall

PRYOR — After completing one last circle (ride) through his ranch and cattle, Jay knew his work was done and rode through the gates of heaven. Jay O. Stovall, 71, passed away on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, at St. Vincent Healthcare, ending a struggle with a heart condition. Once his fate was known, his family fulfilled his one last wish to ride through his ranch and cattle while looking over the Pryor and Big Horn mountains where he spent a lifetime cowboying and ranching on the Crow Reservation.

Jay was born on March 2, 1940, in Billings, to Orville R. "Tog" Stovall and Margaret (Stevens) Stovall-Schafer. He married the love of his life and true lifetime partner, Juanita J. (Schuppe) Stovall on Aug. 2, 1960.

Our father, husband, grandpa, friend and neighbor was loved by many as they all cherished their moments in time with him. Jay loved to ranch and cowboy and he loved the art of cowboying — that was all he would talk about — unless he was talking about politics. A conservative, Christian, family-businessman who felt if you did not like the way things were going, you have the ability to change it. As a gentle giant, he was generous and kind to the people around him but could be demanding with high expectations especially to those who were close to him. Jay would not do anything to just to do it, "that would be a waste of time." Everything he did had a purpose with an end goal in mind as he expected all of us to be productive. His one other love was people. He believed in people and would always make time to visit. Jay and Juanita might not be the first couple to the party but they would for sure be one of the last to leave. He was a strong leader who touched the hearts of many but he had a soft spot for cowboys, especially the cowboys that worked for him. During his later years, one of his favorite times would be to ride around the ranch on his ATV RZR checking on the cattle, grass, water, and on the cowboys. He loved to feed cowboys, whether it was bringing it out on his RZR or bringing the big hot meals out with mom. "Ma," as he would call for Juanita, loyally stood beside Jay through good times and bad. They were a true love story and you would never see them apart all the way to the end. Their partnership of over 51 years was a beacon to many. Behind this great man is a strong woman who helped him succeed. He loved his family, his neighbors and friends. However, he had a special love for his grandchildren — late night chocolate Sundays, hunting excursions and always being there when needed.

Jay grew up cowboying during the days before horse trailers and fences, on his parents' and his uncles' ranches, which were spread from north of Pompeys Pillar to Lodge Grass to Red Lodge. The art of cowboying was important to him and ranch work was done horseback. One of his greatest honors was to be asked to be the Trail Boss for the 1989 Montana Centennial Cattle Drive. This became a spring board to Jay's public service career as a MT State House Representative (eight years) and MT Public Service Commissioner (four years). Prior to his state public service, Jay was appointed by President George H. Bush to represent Indian and minority issues in education and in the USDA. He was a proud enrolled member of the Crow Tribe and felt that he needed to help give Crows a voice. Most recently, Jay was appointed to the Cattlemens Beef Board. He was a proud longterm member of MT Stockgrowers and NILE, while being a charter member of the National Cattlemen's Association (today known as NCBA). Jay was a longtime member of the Al Bedoo Shrine and was active in the Black Horse Patrol Unit. His fond memory as Patrol Captain was when the unit escorted President Reagan's stagecoach into the Metra and welcoming him with a handshake off the coach before the president's speech to Montanans. He loved to talk about the horseback ride down Pennsylvania Avenue with fellow Montanans during the inauguration parade of President George W. Bush. Jay lived life to the fullest.

Our dad was the happiest when he was horseback and we can now see him riding his favorite horse while working on the things he so loved - once again.

Jay is survived by his best friend and wife Juanita, his sons Jay Jr. "Manny" (Lee Ann), Tyler and Turk (Jenny); his grandchildren Hannah, Alicia and Levi.

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He was preceded in death by his parents; his siblings, Orville R. "Buzzer" (Betty) Stovall Jr., Ileta (Leonard) Dailey, Joyce (Dick) Glenn.

Thanks Dad, pops, papa, grandpa, "Unc" (Uncle), Big Jay for making our days brighter and better with your love and smile. Peace be with you as you will be missed and eternally loved.

The casket will be open for visitation on Wednesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. There will be no viewing at the church the day of the funeral. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at First Presbyterian Church (13th Street West and Poly Drive). Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. A reception will be held at the Elk's Lodge, 934 Lewis Ave., after the burial.

Memorials may be made to The Shrine Children's Hospital or a charity of your choice.

Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is in charge of arrangements and remembrances may be shared with the family at www.michelottisawyers.com.

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