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Obituary - Jay C. Henderson

LEWISTOWN - Jay C. Henderson, 75, son of Ira and Patricia Henderson, was born May 10th, 1947, in Everett, Washington. Jay saddled up one last time to ride his buckskin to the pearly gates and meet Jesus Sunday morning April 2nd, 2023 with his wife and family by his side.

Three months after Jay was born, the family moved home to the Bear Paw Mountains in the Warrick area. When Jay was 3 years old they welcomed his baby sister, Jill, into the family. He attended Warrick Country School for his primary years and then attended high school in Big Sandy. When his dad passed away in 1962, his mom, Patricia, moved her family to town. Jay decided to go out for the basketball team; however, the wrestling coach Fred Solmonson immediately tried to recruit him for the wrestling team. Fred told Jay to quit squeezing that ball and come out for wrestling. This was just the beginning of his passion and love for the sport. Jay also participated in bull riding at high school rodeos. He graduated from Big Sandy High School in 1967.

Jay went to Northern Montana College before enlisting in the Montana National Guard. After basic training, he returned to college until he found his sweetheart, Beth Eatinger. After he proposed to Beth, he decided to leave school one semester shy of an agricultural degree. Then Jay started working for Steve Boyce south of Havre as a ranch hand. During the winter he trained and drove a team of horses with a jumper sled around the mountain to feed the cows, which was an all-day job.

June 6th, 1971, Jay married his best friend and the love of his life in Big Sandy, MT. On the day of their wedding, it rained 6 inches. It is said that rain is a good omen for a long and happy marriage; it must be true as they would have celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary in June.

In 1972, Jay's mother-in-law, Ruth, asked him to come home to the Bear Paws to help run the ranch. In 1976, they decided to sell the ranch in the Bear Paws and purchase a ranch in Lewistown. Jay and Beth moved with her. They built the indoor barn, Bear Paw Arena, where they raised and trained registered quarter horses and cattle. After Ruth passed away, Jay and Beth took over the breeding program for the next 35 years. Jay was so proud of his horses and loved to see others represent his Bar E brand!

In 1973, Jay and Beth welcomed their first daughter, Kristy Ann, three years later their son, Troy Ira, was born, and, in 1979, they completed their family with their daughter Mindy Dale. Family meant everything to Jay and he was an amazing dad to his three children. He was involved in every way possible from watching wrestling to hauling to rodeos.

After learning how to shoe horses from his Grandpa Fred and Uncle Jack, in 1980, Jay went to the Oklahoma Farrier School to learn more about corrective shoeing. He became very well-known for his ability to shoe any horse. He traveled all over the state of Montana as a farrier for several big ranches. There were days where he shod up to 10 horses. When his kids high school rodeoed, you often found Jay shoeing horses in between rodeos. He was very patient and loved to teach the trade. He had several young kids that he proudly taught to shoe including his son, Troy and grandson, Hunter. He shod many performance horses competing anywhere from high school rodeos to the NFR.

Jay was a fourth-generation rancher and a second-generation rodeo cowboy. His dad, Ira, rode bareback horses and picked up at many rodeos when Jay was a kid. The Warrick Rodeo Grounds is on their ranch in the Bear Paw Mountains where many wild rodeos took place. Rodeo was in his blood. Two of Jay's children followed him into the rodeo world and many of his grandkids are following suit as well.

After his kids graduated from high school, Jay started judging rodeos. He judged for many years. He was proud of his association to the rodeo community and he especially loved judging high school rodeos because of the kids. He was everyone's biggest fan and you always knew when he was there as he could be heard across the arena cheering everyone on.

Jay was very active in coaching and reffing wrestling. When Jay was a senior, he became a referee. He also reffed wrestling at Northern Montana College. He loved watching his son, Troy, wrestle from the time he was 5 years old through college. He was an avid sports fan and could be seen in the stands cheering on all of his grandkids over the years, whether it was volleyball, football, basketball, wrestling or rodeo.

Jay became a local brand inspector, following in his Uncle Jack's footsteps. He worked at the Lewistown Livestock Yards for more than 20 years. He was the head boss on the out gate side of the yards. He took great pride in getting his workers lined out and making sure everyone knew their job. He also loved training and riding his young horses moving cattle through the alley ways.

For 20 years, Jay enjoyed guiding hunters up Middle Fork in the Little Belt Mountains. They would pack hunters on horseback many miles. They had to cross the river 17 times before arriving at the cabin.

Day riding was one of Jay's passions. He loved helping out local ranchers, riding his horse and working cattle.

Jay's latest and most proud achievement was being honored for his 38 years of service on the Rural Fire Board. He enjoyed being involved in helping the community.

Jay and Beth accepted Jesus as their savior in 1982 and were baptized. They are active members in their church, Christian Missionary Alliance; and they love and appreciate their church family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ira and Patricia Henderson; his mother-in-law, Ruth Eatinger; and brother-in-law Walter Eatinger.

His legacy lives on with his wife, Beth Henderson; three children, Kristy (Bruce) Forsman, Troy (Kelly) Henderson, and Mindy Henderson; grandchildren, Maria (James) Derheim, Landon Henderson, Hunter Henderson, Sage Henderson, Peyton Henderson and Hayden Henderson; his sister, Jill (Barry) Smith; nieces and nephew, Shannon, Ty and Shauna; brothers-in-law Mark Eatinger (Cheryl), Jim Silvan (Julie); nieces and nephews, Darrell, Corey, Nolan, Stacy and Adam; cousins, Nick Siebrasse (Sharon) and family and Cindy Berg.

Jay loved his family and grandkids with his whole heart and was so very proud of them all. Gone but never forgotten, Long Live Cowboys!

A Celebration of Life for Jay will be held at the Fergus Trade Center (Fairgrounds) Thursday, April 13th, 11:00 a.m.

Memorials can be made to Central MT Rodeo Club.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Jay's family and friends can share memories and condolences at .


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