James William (Billy) Beard, age 91 passed away at his home on June 6, 2021 surrounded by his beloved wife Leona, and loving family members.
He was born at a maternity home in Rexburg, Idaho on January 15, 1930. Bill was the second son born to Joseph Samuel and Sara Delila Stanger Beard. At that time, Bill’s father and Uncles were often appearing with their oxen in movies and countless celebrations in the western United States. As a youth he went along with them and as time went on, he learned from his dad how to be a “bullwhacker”. When he was a young boy, his father helped him carve his first ox yoke and he began breaking calves to the yoke.
The original Beard family settled in the Clawson area in the north end of Teton Valley, Idaho in 1907 and began running a sawmill in South Leigh Canyon, east of the Idaho-Wyoming State line in 1910.
Bill worked on the ranch as a youth with his brothers and helped operate the family sawmill with his father and brother, Lyle. He started school in Tetonia, and then when the family moved to the homestead in South Leigh, transferred to the Alta, Wyoming school where his father drove the horse drawn school bus and his mother was a cook at the Alta school. He was a good student and was especially good at “spelling bees”. Family life in the evenings was often spent listening to his father play the accordion and his mother on the piano. His younger two sisters loved to sing and dance and their home life was a happy one. He spent many days having his sisters tag after him, and he always welcomed it.
Bill was an expert at braiding ox whips and bridles which he continued to make all his life. When the family was able to purchase a caterpillar and bulldozer, life was good. Haying and threshing time, he and the other boys would help put up hay and grain on the “home ranch”. He enjoyed his turn on the “derrick horse” very much and later drove the horse drawn rakes and mowers on the ranch. He graduated from Teton High in 1948 and then made ranching his full-time occupation.
His parents bought a house in Driggs and they moved there in the winters and back to the homestead up South Leigh Canyon in the summer. He later married his sweetheart Leona Hill, on November 12, 1953 at her parents’ home in Darby. She has been a true support for him and wonderful companion throughout his life. They began living on the homestead full time. To this marriage was born 5 children: Lana Elaine, Shirley Ann, Alan James, Clayton Dee and Lori Jean. He was a hard worker and devoted his whole life to support his family. Loyalty to his family and to his pioneer heritage was an important part of who he was.
In the early 1960s Bill and his brother Lyle and their father started a hunting and guide outfitting business in the north end of the valley. He had a great sense of humor and was well-liked by those who knew him. In 2017 he had the great honor of being inducted into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. More than 40 family members went through a blizzard in route to Casper, Wyoming to celebrate with him.
Some other highlights of Billy’s life were in taking the oxen to parades, filming movies and television shows across the U.S. with his father, brothers, sons and nephews. He was always fun to visit with because of his quick wit, captivating storytelling and his joyful love to tease. He loved his family. His sweet wife, children, grandchildren and great grandkids were important to him. He had a fun nickname for everybody, including his nieces and nephews.
From his youth to his last days, he was a die-hard cattle rancher.
His perfect day would be riding around the cattle on a fast-moving horse or chasing an elk through the timber. He was a true cowboy.
He is survived by his wife, Leona, his children Lana (Alan Johnson), Shirley Ann (Cliff Valentine), Alan James (Beth Ann Cutler), Clayton Dee (Tresha Calderwood), Lori Jean (Clint Calderwood), 31 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren, sister Gloria Ann (Newel Kimball), and Janie Lee (Vance Rasmussen) and many nephews and nieces. He’s preceded in death by his parents and his brothers Edgar Lyle (Trixie Nelson) and Joseph Robert Beard.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, June 11, 2021 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints in Tetonia, Idaho. A viewing will be held from 9:30-10:45 a.m. and the funeral will be at 11 a.m. Interment will be in the Cache-Clawson Cemetery by Flamm Funeral Home. We want to give a special thanks to the Tetonia 1st Ward and all who have brought food and given kind words, love and support.