Gene was born in Spearfish, S.D. January 19, 1942. He is the oldest son of Don and Gladys (Storm) Griffis and was raised on his parents ranch in the Bearlodge Mountains in Northeast Crook County, Wyoming.
Gene was put on a horse when he was 5 years old. He started school when he was 6 years old, riding 3 miles each way for 8 years at Lame Jones Country school. He was given a buckskin mare when he was in the 7th grade which he broke.
The ranch bordered the Black Hills National Forest and had a 150 cow, calf permit. They also ran about 30 head of horses, both saddle and work horses. The snow got deep in that county, so they fed with a team. Gene was horseback almost every day. He went 12 miles to Hulett High School, excelling in Track, setting records in the 100-yard dash, low hurdles, high hurdles and pole vault. He competed in High School Rodeo, riding bareback, saddlebronc and bulls. He won the National High School Bull Riding Championship in 1959, winning his first saddle. He was the All-around Champion in 1960, winning a Registered Quarter horse filly, which all of Gene’s horses are descendants of.
He started working for wages for his brother-in-law on the Fount Bush Ranch west of Hulett and married his wife, Ellen. He worked at ranches all over Crook County like Merit Barton, Ivan Moore, Jim Storm, Roy Conselman, Will West, Melvin Snook, T.J. Wesley, Leland Brimmer, Dan White and numerous other ranches.
Gene has been in the saddle on every ranch he worked on. Cowboy work is all he has ever done for a living and he’s been a cowboy all his life. He retired a few years ago but still does day labor horseback any day he can. Gene is a true cowboy, always has been and always will be.