Funeral services for Bill Ritchie, 94-year-old longtime Johnson and Sheridan County resident who passed away last Thursday morning at the Agape Manor in Buffalo, were Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. at Harness Funeral Home in Buffalo with Bob Ruby officiating. Visitation was held on Monday and Tuesday. Interment was in Willow Grove Cemetery with graveside services immediately following the funeral. Donations in Mr. Ritchie’s memory may be made to the Ritchie Family Memorial Scholarship Fund or the Susie Bowling Lawrence Hospice in care of Harness Funeral Home at 351 N. Adams in Buffalo. Online condolences may be made at www.harnessfuneralhome.com.
William Watt Ritchie was born Feb. 9, 1925, in Sheridan to William Clark (Spec) and Alice C. (Watt) Ritchie. Bill grew up between the mouths of Clear Creek and Little Remington Creek in Sheridan County. Due to the remoteness of the home on Little Remington, he was boarded out to attend elementary rural schools in Sheridan County. After his schooling he went to Kansas City, Missouri, where he held down several jobs in the area around Kansas City. It wasn’t long until the allure of the Wyoming hills drew him back home.
Bill worked for area ranches as a cowboy, ranch hand, laborer from the Tongue River to the Powder River and from Arvada to Broadus. He started his own cow herd and at one time ran quite a few horses in the hills north of his parents’ homestead. In 1957 Bill married LaVern (Slaybaugh) Bulkley. To this union two daughters were born. Bill moved the combined family from the homestead of his grandparents at the mouth of Clear Creek to Buffalo in 1961. Bill and LaVern raised their family on Rock Creek, where they raised award- winning registered Hereford and Simmental cattle. Bill’s Hereford bulls topped the test at Midland Test Station in Montana 30 years apart, a feat he was most proud of. Though they sold the Rock Creek Ranch in the early ’90s, they continued to ranch on their property north of Arvada.
Bill was instrumental in the start up of the Farm Bureau organization in the Arvada community and continued his affiliation as an active member of the Johnson County Farm Bureau, serving as the organization president. Bill was the Northeast Farm Bureau District Director for many, many years. He and LaVern received the Distinguished Service Award in 2002 for their years of service to the organization.
Bill and LaVern were avid supporters of both 4-H and FFA in Johnson County. They were among the inaugural donors to the Supreme Cow competition, Honorary Chapter Farmers of the Buffalo FFA and donors of a scholarship each year to a graduating FFA member.
Bill is survived by his and LaVern’s seven children: Don (Connie) Bulkley of Wright; Norma Jean (Al) Carr of Casper; Floyd (Dixie) Bulkley of Douglas; Clarence (Cheryl) Bulkley of Springfield, Colorado; Dale (Jeanne) Bulkley of Worland; Linda (Tom) Lulias of Buffalo; and Janice Keffer of Chandler, Arizona; 16 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.