Walter Feuz was born June 12, 1911 to Caroline and Fred Feuz. His parents and older siblings had come from Switzerland looking for a better life. His father, Fred, was a climber when living in Switzerland. Fred fell in love with Jackson Hole when he came over Teton Pass and saw the Tetons. At this time the land near the town on Jackson had been homesteaded so they headed north and found a one hundred and sixty acre parcel near Moran, Wyoming about thirty miles from Jackson. The family worked and struggled to make a living on this property which was full of rocks and not very productive.
Horses became an essential part of their life. All the ranch work was done with horses from haying to riding. The Feuz family grew and the kids got to school with the team they drove or the horses they rode. So Walt’s childhood was all about horses. When he was younger, Walt became a very good saddle bronc rider competing across the state including Cheyenne Frontier Days.
As a young man he and his brother Emile Feuz purchased a piece of ranch property in the Buffalo Valley where they bought some Hereford cows and began ranching. At about this time World War II began and Walt went into the army. During his time in the army he got the measles. Instead of going to Europe he worked as a medic with the doctors in California. He was very good at this, and for years used these skills he acquired in the army to treat horses, cattle, and his family and employees.
After the war he returned to Moran, where his brother had been taking care of the ranch. Emil wanted to move his family back to town so Walt bought out Emile’s share of the ranch. Shortly afterwards, he went to go to a dance where he met a beautiful transplant from Chicago, Illinois. Betty Howard stole his heart and they were married that fall.
For Betty it was a complete change of life. The ranch had no electricity, and it was quite a journey to get there, since the present Highway 89 did not exist. However, Betty was up to any task and they set out together to build a life of cattle ranching.
Walter was not great with equipment, but he was good with horses, and much of the work was done on horseback. Spring calving would find Walt weathering spring storms and bringing in chilled calves on the back of his good ranch horse. As the cattle went out on the open range in the spring Walt and his dogs would drive them to mountain pastures. He hauled salt up to the cattle with a pack string of horses, and spent long days in the saddle. He never tired of being horseback. In the fall the cattle were brought out of the hills and sorted by brands as some headed on down the valley to Jackson. The ranchers all rode their best cow horses as they deftly sorted cattle. It was a colorful time as the cattle and the cowboys scattered through aspen trees, gathering the Hereford cows as they headed for their winter pasture. When winter settled in Walt harnessed and fed with teams through the winter months, usually driving four head of horses.
As time went on Walt and Betty had four daughters, Jane, Martha, Christine and Joanne. They all grew up riding horses, helping with calving, sorting and other ranch work. Walt was a wonderful teacher. He bought all four daughters saddles and put them on gentle safe horses. He told them not to ride like dudes, and gave them a love for the ranch and the work it entailed. He made us feel like we were an important part of things. Dad was very progressive, he wanted us to learn to ride better and attend clinics. His daughters were in the 4-H beef program and with Walt’s fine eye for cattle they showed good Hereford steers and won a lot of awards.
As time went on Walt and Betty expanded the ranch operation and over a period of time were able to purchase two more homesteads and lease the Hatchet Ranch. With his brother, Ed Feuz who lived on the ranch next to Walt’s, they ran a lot of cattle in the Buffalo Valley.
Walt was an active part in the community. He served on the school board, eventually was a brand inspector, and was awarded cattleman of the year. He was always optimistic that with hard work and diligence, nothing was impossible. Horses held a special place in his heart. He easily rode tough ones, even as he got older. Walt had a way of making a bucking horse look easy. He wasn’t fond of quarter horses, preferring the tough ones that could travel all day.