Nov. 10, 1947-Oct. 16, 2019
Jerry "Buzz" Nyhart left this world in the early morning hours on October 16, 2019, surrounded by his wife, Sandy and his sons, Jon and Justin.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep after fighting a short but courageous battle with cancer.
Jerry was born on November 10, 1947, to Orrie & Mae Nyhart. He followed an older sister, Sherry. The story goes that at a young age, his big sister couldn't pronounce 'brother' so she called him "Bruzz" which somehow got shortened to "Buzz," becoming his lifelong nickname.
He grew up on his family's ranch between Twin Bridges & Dillon, near the Point of Rocks, also called the Beaverhead Rock, and spent his entire life there. A 4th generation Montana rancher, he was very proud of his family's history as Montana pioneers, who traveled via wagon train on the Bozeman Trail in 1864 from Iowa to Virginia City, Montana. His grandfather, Jordan, was only 6 months old when they left Iowa. The family eventually settled on land near the Point of Rocks and the Nyhart Ranch was established in 1868. They raised short horn cattle, horses and later, black Angus cattle.
As a ranch kid, Jerry enjoyed what all young cowboys did: riding and breaking horses, working cattle with his Dad, uncles and cousins, especially the round-ups in the Ruby Mountains. He also helped with farming, putting up the hay and grain crops. He loved hunting for arrowheads in the mountains and collecting "old" guns at a young age, hobbies that became his lifelong passions.
He attended school in Twin Bridges, but graduated from high school in Dillon. He enjoyed playing sports in high school, especially basketball. Later in life, when his sons played football & basketball in high school he tried to attend every game. He was very proud of them.
After high school, Jerry attended MSU in Bozeman, participating in college rodeo events, as a bronc rider, team roper and steer wrestler.
Following college, he continued to work on the family ranch, which was to be his life-long profession.
As a young adult he enjoyed roping events at his neighbor Benny Reynolds' arena and other friends' arenas nearby. He was an excellent roper and steer wrestler. In the winter, he loved going snowmobiling with his friends.
Since 1971, he lived in the north part of the ranch, in the house his grandfather and grandmother Nyhart built in 1940. Sandy has resided there with him for the past 17 years.
He began raising buffalo in the 1980s to supplement his income and because they seemed to thrive in the dry hills on back side of the ranch where cattle didn't do as well. Jerry was well known for his healthy and robust herd. He did a few buffalo hunts every fall/winter. Many of the hunters said it was the experience of a lifetime. He maintained his buffalo herd over the years, by frequently buying breeding stock at the National Bison Range and Custer State park fall auctions. Although working buffalo could prove to be dangerous and a challenge, Jerry always seemed to have an "understanding" with his animals and despite the fact that he had many close calls working with them, they never hurt him. He loved having them & they seemed to love him back. His friends often jokingly, called him the "Buffalo Whisperer." He often took visitors out in the hills to meet his "girlfriend:" a buffalo named Calamity Jane. She came running to him when he called her and he would give her a few alfalfa cubes.
When he had to sell his herd in 2017, after having them nearly 40 years, he and Sandy missed them terribly.
In later years, when he could take a break from the ranch work, haying and farming, he liked to go horseback riding or riding the 4-wheelers with Sandy in his beloved mountains, checking on cattle and hunting for arrowheads. He and Sandy also enjoyed going dancing, traveling whenever possible, attending gun and antique shows and visiting his sons and grandchildren in Colorado. He loved Montana history and did frequent presentations about some of the historical guns, photos, etc. he had collected over the years.
Their "vacation" every January was to get away for a few weeks to go to the "Antique Arms" show in Las Vegas & then to Laughlin, Nevada, before returning home to begin calving.
Jerry was a big-hearted, honest, hard-working man, who was respected for his generosity and kindness. He was often called a "gentle giant" because of his stature and even temperament. He rarely, if ever, got angry. He trusted everyone implicitly with a hand shake; that is how his parents brought him up. He loved meeting people and often referred to those he had just met, as "a friend of mine." He will be sorely missed by those whose lives he has touched.
He is now at peace in Heaven. It is a perpetual, warm, sunny day, he is walking through the tall green grass with his mother, father, many relatives and friends that have met him there. All the good horses and faithful dogs he had known in his lifetime are there, so happy to see him. With a smile, he is looking up in the hills, happy to see many, many buffalo that will be there forever, for all eternity.
Jerry is preceded in death by his father and mother, Orrie and Mae Nyhart.
He is survived by his wife, Sandy, sons from a previous marriage, Justin and Jon (Lisa), and his seven grandchildren: Adisyn, Kassidi, Averie, Reighley, Quinten, Colton & Dristin; sister, Sherry Smith; nephews, Chad (Dena) Smith, Brian (Claire) Smith, and niece, Heidi (Bill) Woods; and many cousins, friends and his beloved Boston terrier, Daisy.
A celebration of his life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on his birthday, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, at the Twin Bridges School auditorium and followed by dinner at the Madison County Fairgrounds (round building). Memorials may be made to the Twin Bridges Historical Museum, Beaverhead Animal Shelter (Dillon), or charity of your choice.