Frank Eugene Shepperson was born April 7, 1942 and spent his childhood and early years in the Midwest, Wyoming area. He grew up helping his folks, Frank and Billie Jean, run cattle on the open range. His summers consisted of living at cow camp; which meant they lived out on the range and they kept their cattle on their range. These were the days of no fences, so they tended the cattle everyday making sure they didn’t wander too far. The rest of the day was spent breaking colts, practicing roping and enjoying the occasional musical jam session., In the fall, they would start to round up the cattle and all the neighbors would come together, work and sort the herds and each go their separate way back home.
Ranching isn’t just a way to make a living for Frank; it is a way of life. Even today, when most people load up their cattle on cattle pots and haul them to summer pasture Frank gathers the cattle horseback, loads up the camper and horse trailer and they trail the cattle over 60 miles to their summer range on the Big Horn Mountains. They trail in the early mornings, camp out with the cows, cook over the campfire and have the occasional music jam session in the evenings. Frank has been trailing cattle on the 33 Mile Stock Trail for decades and it continues to be one of his favorite things to do.
Frank has always been a good neighbor; he has been helping some of his neighbors for more than 70 years. He would even re-arrange his rodeo schedule to be home for the brandings and shippings that took place every spring and fall. Still to this day, the operations in this area rely heavily on neighbors to get the cow work done. With good neighbors and a hardworking and supportive spouse, Frank was constantly looking for opportunities to lease or buy more land.
Frank married Gail Sanford and had 2 children, Brice Lewis and Kit Foote. Both Brice and Kit are active in the ranching and rodeo community in the Meeteetse, WY area. Frank married Susan Campbell in 1973. She was a 3rd generation neighboring ranch girl and he had known and helped her family for many years. Frank and Susan had 4 children, Lynn (Shepperson) Mayfield, Lisa (Shepperson) Garnhart, Frank (Les) Shepperson and Amy (Shepperson) Deselms, who are still on the ranch today with their families. In 2012, Frank and Susan decided it was time to slow down, so they allowed their kids to split the ranch into 4 separate units that is run by each child’s family. The ranch is still going strong with the family operating on over 200,000 acres and running more than 2,800 head of cows. Part of the ranch has been in the family since 1903 and the Shepperson Ranch received the Wyoming Centennial Ranch award in 2008. The Bax Taylor/Shepperson Family have been ranching in Wyoming since 1867 and received the Centennial Award in 1990. Ranching and rodeo have deep roots in Frank.
One of the unique things about Frank’s rodeo career was his ability to compete in more than one event. In High School he competed in every event at times. Then it narrowed down to five events that he was very successful at: Saddle Bronc Riding, Calf Roping, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling and Bull Riding. He was an All-Around hand and won the Wyoming High School All –Around in 1960. The same year he won the National High School Champion Saddle Bronc Riding. He continued competing in all five events while attending college at the University of Wyoming. His freshman year (1961) he was a member of the Men’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) National Champion Team. He continued rodeoing in college and in 1962 he was the Rocky Mountain Region Champion Saddle Bronc Rider. Then in 1964 he won the NIRA National Championship in the Steer Wrestling. That year he also graduated with a Bachelor of Science and moved home to Midwest, WY where he taught school for three years and ranched.
Frank still had some goals to achieve so in 1970 he hit the PRCA rodeo trail hard. He qualified for the NFR in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, & 1976. Frank was very well respected and traveled with friends that competed in the rough stock and timed events. He became an accomplished pilot to help with travel between rodeos and his Cessna 182 (N3233Y) is still being flown today on the ranch and is a useful tool to check livestock, grass, water and fences. Frank was elected to be the PRCA Steer Wrestling Director in 1974-1975. Frank competed in all the big rodeos – Houston, Denver, Calgary, Pendleton, Cheyenne, San Antonio, San Francisco, Omaha and Phoenix to name a few. His card number was C9671, and he is a Lifetime Gold Card Member of the PRCA.
Frank not only supported his children throughout their High School and College careers, but also supported and helped many other children. He would put on rodeo schools for anyone who was willing to come. He has loaned out horses to kids who needed them, hazed for hundreds of kids in high school, pushed more cattle up the chute than can be counted and always made sure his kids were well mounted and had practice cattle.
Frank is still very involved in agriculture; he is a member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and was President in 2009-2011. He promotes agriculture every chance he can get and is always there to help his kids and neighbors. He is very involved in the ranching operations of his kids and many in the area use him as an advisor. He is well known for his knowledge of the industry and for lending a helping hand.
In 2010, the Shepperson Family participated in “The Code of the West: Alive and Well in Wyoming”. It was a short film about Cowboy Ethics. Frank Shepperson lives those principals every day. With him, your word is your bond and the cowboy way of life is the only life there is.