The world was not ready when Noel F. Ryan Lacey stepped onto the stage in Stillwater, Oklahoma on March 27, 1978. As the first and only son to John Gilbert and Dixie Marie, he composed and performed his first song for his mother when he was around four years old. Music has rocked and rolled better ever since. While growing from a Woodland Cowboy into an Abraham Lincoln High School Lynx, Noel’s love for baseball and football came to the forefront as he was voted Most Inspirational Player at his senior year’s Homecoming Game. (Rumors abound of a legendary helmet still on secret display.) Never to be constrained by culture (remember, this was the 90’s), Noel also wore a ponytail, took up skateboarding, dressed as a train engineer to work at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, and played guitar.
After graduating a semester early from high school in 1995, he spent some time at University of Iowa before taking possession of a bread truck. Not one to bend to the world’s mold, he converted it into a camper and heeded the Siren song of the ocean. Shifting back and forth between music scenes in California and Washington helped him open his mind and tap deeper into his creative soul, and Noel flourished into an accomplished songwriter and performer; most notably on guitar. His talents also included the piano, organ, bass, slide, jug, and saw.
He visited Montana many times throughout, eventually moving to the state in 2001. Although there was some back and forth after that, the mountains always had a way of bringing him home. From fishing, to camping, thrift shopping, and playing pool, he was as Montanan as they come with his “kiss my ass” independence, gardening, and a penchant for reading dense classic literature and poetry.
He had a hobby of repairing old record players and amplifiers, but a tendency toward breaking guitars. As the founding member of The Sewing Club, he was the most well-dressed member in the diviest bar, and he would give you the shirt off his back. (Literally.) In addition to his solo gigs, he was also a member of Antiquarians, Meatskin Jubilee Jug Band, Slippers, and Tarns, and he regaled the Gallatin Valley with American Folk & Blues, bluegrass, old country, and other classic tunes every other week as a DJ on KGLT.
He is survived by his father John Lacey and stepmother Lennea of Lincoln, NE, his mother Dixie Cashero and stepfather Jim of Casper, WY, his sister Aurora Wulf and brother-in-law Steven of Bozeman, MT, partner Ariana Paliobagis, nephews David Casey, John Casey, Daniel Casey, Asher Casey, stepsiblings Heather Cashero, Anna Cashero-Stroebel, Kimberly Adams, Janece Ferris, and Jedediah Potter, and a multitude of extended family, friends, and bandmates around the country. He is preceded in death by grandparents Gilbert and Jean Lacey, grandparents Russell and Marie Bird.
In lieu of flowers, Noel’s family will accept donations via cash, Venmo @Aurora-Wulf, and through Rocky Mountain Bank to offset the massive medical bills for Effie Jo Frye, a member of Noel’s additional family, for whom he wanted to play a fundraiser.
His music remained his passion to the last. To put it as he does: Rock and Roll!
Condolences & memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.