Eugene Blanchard Williams was born on September 3, 1927 in Sheridan, Wyoming to Laura and George Frederick Williams. As an only child, he spent his youth growing up on the Williams’ family ranch on Piney Creek in Sheridan County. The ranch today is known as the Ellenwood Ranch.
He attended primary school at the Old Store School on Piney Creek. In 1939, the family moved to the Beaver Creek Ranch where Gene attended school at the Beaver Creek School and then went to Sheridan High School graduating in 1946. During these years, Gene spent his time learning about ranching and farming by his father’s side. He was active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. While attending Sheridan High School, he won the state Speech Contest and went to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participated in the National Contest there. While attending College at the University of Wyoming on an Agriculture Scholarship, he won the Little International Show. Each contestant had to show a steer, horse, sheep and pig. He went by train to Chicago, where he had to travel in a stock-car with the animals. This National Stock Growers Competition was held in November and it was a very cold winter. They called them the “Herdsman”. Gene recalled, “I remember we had a white steer, and had to wash him 2 or 3 times a day to keep him clean. On the way home we got to ride in one of the passenger cars….sure was a lot warmer!!” He was awarded the honor of being named “American Farmer”. He also participated on the University of Wyoming’s Rodeo Team as a Bulldogger.
In 1951 Gene graduated from the University of Wyoming with a major in Agriculture. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army. He served in the 529th Military Police Force and while stationed in Germany, he played International Football.
On June 22, 1957, Gene married Anne McMillan of St. Louis, Missouri. They met at Eaton’s Ranch where many dances were held. Anne came to see what the Dude Ranch was about and Gene went looking for a dancing partner. To this marriage, they were blessed with 4 children, Laura, Sharon, Stan and Rebecca (Becky).
After serving his country, he returned back to the 3,200 acre Beaver Creek Ranch where they raised Herefords and eventually went on to breeding Angus Crossbreds. He remained on the ranch until 1981 when they sold the ranch and he scaled down the majority of the operation, but continued to work cattle on the 3,000 acre Spring Willow Ranch at Wyarno, Wyoming. Gene was active for many years as a 4-H Leader of the T-Bone Livestock 4-H Club and hauling his family to many rodeos. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s Gene helped put on and run the Bob Watt’s Memorial Roping in Sheridan. There were sometimes nearly 300 teams entered in this roping.
Gene is a man who can regale you with great stories, sing songs nobody has heard in years and is loved and respected by all who know him. His children remember him putting on his stained cowboy hat, call whichever dog they had at the time and head out the door to go do what he did best, taking care of the ranch and the cattle. Being a cowboy wasn’t something that he did once in a while, he did it day in and day out. If he could do it on a horse he would, everything from irrigating to having fun at the end of the day roping steers with some of his friends.
In 1999, Gene retired from ranching and moved to the Powder Horn. He continues to hold a Reserved Seating row at the annual Sheridan WYO Rodeo. He also attends many other local events in which he watches his grandchildren and his 6 year old great-granddaughter participate in rodeo events. At 89 years young, Gene continues to enjoy life in Sheridan County with his 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.