William C. "Bill" Brewer, Jr.
William C. Brewer, Jr. was born to William C. Sr. and Leora Brewer on March 2, 1925 in Casper, WY. He grew up on his parents ranch north of Powder River, WY with his sister Jane Fenton and half-brother Dan Miller. He attended elementary school in Powder River and graduate from Natrona County High School in Casper in 1942. Bill was avid in sports and lettered in all that he participated in. He continued to play basketball into his early twenties. Bill helped his parents on the ranch breaking horses, working cattle, shearing sheep, building fence or whatever needed done. He also helped neighbors shearing sheep, putting up hay, branding or just being a handyman. His father homesteaded in Powder River in the 1890’s and he learned ranching from watching and helping him.
Bill met his wife to be, Joan Oakes, of Oak Park, Illinois the summer of 1939 when her family was on a trip out west where a mutual friend, Bill May, of Highland introduced the families. The Oakes stayed for a couple of days and when they left Bill told his mother he was going to marry that girl, they were 14 at the time. When they were sixteen they were engaged and married when they were twenty years old. Joan told Bill that she knew nothing about ranching. He told her to raise him a crew and she did. They had seven children, Sandra Sherwin of Evansville, WY, Cheryl Schnepf of Casper, WY, Bill of Texas, Jethrol of Ephrata, WA, Cody of DeLeon, TX, Chris of Newport News, VA and Cathy of Evansville, WY.
Bill and Joan lived at the ranch in Natrona, WY, which he and his father purchased from Henry Johnson. Bill assumed full ownership in 1947. Bill was involved with the Pine Mountain 4-H club and helped the members with riding horses, raising beef and sheep, doing woodworking, ropecraft and leathercraft. He was an avid sponsor of his boys wrestling in high school, helped with the high school rodeos and was an active member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. Bill was a family man and always made time for his children teaching them how to play football, baseball, cards, ride horses, rope and how to be fair with other people. He always said he never liked a liar, cheat or thief and that’s how he raised his children.
Bill produced rodeos in Powder River for a few years and then moved the rodeo to his ranch at Natrona where he started with match bronc riding, team roping and match tie-down calf roping. As the years went by Bill dropped the bronc riding and focused on the roping events. He produced these events for approximately 30 years. Bill furnished roping steers for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Steer Roping, the All Wyoming Team Roping in Casper and the State Wyoming Steer Roping Finals. Bill produced the Old Timers Rodeo in Casper with Floyd Calvert for approximately five years. He also taught other people by putting on team roping schools for a number of years.
Bill was a P.R.C.A. Gold member for 35 years and won numerous saddles and belt buckles. Bill was the Team Roping Director of the National Old Timers Rodeo Association for two terms and was three time World Champion Team Roping Heeler in 1988, 1989 and 1991 with partner Gene Ray Ward of Canyon, TX. He was inducted into the N.O.T.R.A. Hall of Fame in 1998. He participated in the ranch horse contests at the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo and the Wyoming State Fair where it was commented that between his age and the horse’s age there was one hundred years of experience in the arena. Bill was 73 at the time.
He was a modest self-taught artist who wowed many people with his painting skills. He painted call on the corral fence and would joke about it asking someone to “turn them out.” He also painted four horse back riders on the barn doors which represented his four sons. This could be seen from the highway heading East. He also had carpentry skills and built many of his out buildings at the ranch and did all the construction of the buildings at his farm. He never threw away a board or a nail; they had to be straightened for reuse and the family still jokes about using “Brewer” nails.
He loved his friends and for years he had an annual card game at his home that lasted for days. People would bring their children and stay to celebrate his birthday. He had many of his rodeo friends come stay for a week at a time with him and they would help on the ranch with the cattle. Sometimes for brandings and sometimes for plastering the horns on the roping cattle.
He bought a farm north of the Natrona County National Airport from Millard Gowan in 1969 to provide his own food for his cattle and to raise pigs. He would trail the cattle every spring from the farm after calving to the ranch, over 24 miles, in one day and then do it again in the fall after shipping time. He spent many hourse in the saddle and never tired. He said he never felt better than on his horse with rope in hand. He building a dipping vat at the ranch to dip the cattle for lice and at that time it was the only one in the country. After some time the boys chose to leave the ranch life and Bill was forced to sell the farm to Kelly Burch. He moved back to the ranch and focused on his rodeo career. In 1999 he sold the ranch to Bob Ehrlie of Windsor, CO and maintained life estate there until his death in March of 2006.