Dan Joe Leadbetter passed away Wednesday afternoon, February 26, 2020, surrounded by his loving children.
Dan was born March 4, 1934, in Fort Lupton, Colorado.
He met his first love, Debby, in 1954 at Colorado A&M. They were married in 1955 and moved to the Valley Garden Ranch in Ennis in 1957, raised their family and resided there until September 1999. They moved to Four Corners on the Gallatin River that Fall with their horses and chocolate Lab, Norman.
On Valentine’s Day 2013, he married his second sweetheart, Gail Anderson, from the Hayhook Ranch in the Shields Valley. He and Gail enjoyed six wonderful years spending time between their homes in Montana and Arizona.
He was preceded by his parents, Charles Leadbetter and Jean Leadbetter, and his lovely wives Debby and Gail Leadbetter.
He is celebrated by his children, Joel Leadbetter and his wife, Dawn of Belgrade, Jill Connolly and her husband, Sam of Manhattan, and Kirk Leadbetter and his wife, Katie of Anchorage, Alaska; grandchildren, Lindsay Leadbetter and her husband, Martin of Ennis, Eric Leadbetter and his wife, Brianna of Bend, Oregon, Ally Leadbetter and her husband, Alex Prentiss of Bozeman, Whit Connolly of Portland, Oregon, Haley Connolly and her husband, Josh Bowden of Bozeman, Brooke Leadbetter of Portland, Oregon and Quinn Leadbetter of Anchorage, Alaska. He also has three great grandchildren; Gunnar, Sawyer and Soren.
Dan was a cowboy and always the cow boss; he was happiest when he was in the saddle working cattle on the ranch or team roping in arenas across the country. When he wasn’t horseback, he enjoyed time fly fishing across North America and following his dogs afield chasing upland birds. Horses and dogs were a very important part of his enjoyment of life. He will be remembered as a loving husband, mentor to his sons and son-in-law, wonderful friend to his daughter, and the embodiment of the cowboy way.
No memorial services will be held at his request; however, memorials may be made in his name to The Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter or the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
This poem was written by his old college friend and held a special place in his heart:
Night has come, the wind has gone,
The sky has turned to grey.
It looks as if some rain may come
Before another day.
The stock is fed, the gates are closed,
The horses put away.
My chores are done, my tasks complete
I’ll soon be on my way.
Life has been a long, hot road.
Sometimes filled with ruts.
I stumbled some, like everyone
But quickly got back up.
The road’s now clear, the night is cool,
Spring seems in the air.
I’d better go, I hear them now,
Calling from up there.
I’d like to stop just once more,
Go back another mile or so.
But time is short, they're closer now,
There’s not much more to go.
I’ll see you all when you have climbed
Your own long, dusty road.
But take your time, look back awhile
It lightens life’s big load.
Burt W. Guenin