Murray Butler was born on Jan. 1, 1930 to E.H. and Rita Butler. They lived at the family homestead near Snyder Creek, 60 miles NW of Lusk, Wyoming. His father died when he was three years old, and his mother raised him and his two brothers on the homestead. His first paid working position was herding sheep for Bill Rankin. He used his paycheck in the fall to purchase his first saddle, a Kerwin Neilson.
When Murray was thirteen, he left home to work for Bob Dixon who not only taught him how to cowboy, but became a dear, lifelong friend. In his younger years, he worked for numerous area ranchers including Jim Zerbst and brothers, Glen Hanson and Dick Pfister. He was a foreman for Pfister for three and a half years.
Murray became quite experienced in breaking horses, too many to count in his lifetime. Although he had a family to support, he did some rodeoing at local events. Once in Edgemont, SD, he drew a horse named Bourbon, who had never been ridden – Murray covered him. He spent his whole life working on horseback and was known to be in the pasture before the sun came up.
In 1948, Murray married Velma Statler in Newcastle, Wyoming. They had two children, Sheri and Murray (Dean) Jr., and had five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Together, they ran their operation on the Bell place that they rented for eight years. Then after working for the Hollifield place, they were able to rent it for twenty years. They also leased the Blackmore ranch south of Manville. Finally, in 1973, he purchased land in Keeline, Wyoming and a parcel of the iconic Flat Top ranch south of Jireh, Wyoming. At one time, they ran over five hundred head of mother cows. They would trail (on horseback) every spring and fall from the home place to the Blackmore pasture. Murray’s sister and granddaughter remember him as always humming or singing a tune when he was horseback. Murray and Velma worked together feeding cows until they could no longer handle the physical demands of running the place. Murray passed away on April 7, 2009.
Murray supported the Niobrara County FFA, was also on the board of the Senior Pro Rodeo held in Lusk. He participated in the Legend of the Rawhide play, but only if he could be a cowboy. He passed on his horsemanship skills to his son and grandchildren as well as many other young men and women over the years.