Ray A. Wagstaff
Ray A. Wagstaff was born on January 21, 1949, to David Wagstaff and Amy Hutchinson. He was welcomed into the world after his twin brother, Roy Wagstaff, during the famous 1949 blizzard. He grew up in Hilliard on the Wagstaff Ranch with his siblings, Mildred “Fay” (Devon Black), David (Loretta), Jeanette, Virginia (Cecil Hoffman), Terry (Dee Allison), Marvin (Annie), Roy (Gerri), Linda, Larry (Mary Sue), and Peggy (Ron Hutchinson). David and Amy had two children, Bertha and Tommy, who were called back to heaven at birth.
Ray worked cattle and sheep on the family ranch. He would take the wagon and their team of horses to feed the sheep and cows. After the haying was done at the Wagstaff Ranch, Ray would help Grandpa Wagstaff and Uncle Joe with their hay near Grandpa’s house across Highway 150. Ray and his brothers helped build the fence around the Wagstaff summer range and they would stay up there in the summer to tend the sheep. Growing up on the Wagstaff Ranch is where Ray learned to shear sheep and acquired his work ethic of helping other people without expecting anything in return. Ray was one of the most selfless people one could ever meet.
There were lots of days filled with distractions that kept him from attending school. He told the teachers he had to go to Idaho to get grain for the sheep, or go find some bucks, so he could go hunting or really anything instead of going to school. Ray would often take several classmates with him to play hooky. Ray and Roy would trade clothes during the school day to attend each other’s classes — one was good at math and one was good at English. When one was in trouble, they would switch places to help each other out. Ray played for the Red Devil football team and wrestled for Evanston High School. Ray was a State Champion wrestler for Evanston in 1965, weighing in at 127 pounds. Ray lettered in the E Club at Evanston High School in 1966. Ray took second at Wyoming State Wrestling in 1966. The principal, Jerry Parker, told the twins when they walked across the stage for graduation that he wasn’t sure if he should allow them to graduate because they owed him several days of school; however, Jerry was sure glad to see them go as they were a handful. Ray continued to attend every Red Devil football game he could. Every year, Ray loved to help with Evanston Invitational Wrestling.
SP4 Ray Wagstaff was drafted into the U.S. Army on April 9, 1969. His service began in Fort Ord, Calif. Then he was sent overseas to be stationed in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Ray was very proud to serve his country. He grew very close to his fellow soldiers, who were always looking out for each other like family. He was always a proud veteran, honored to participate in the 21-Gun Salute for fellow veterans who had passed away. Ray’s favorite memory from his service in Vietnam was when a water buffalo wandered into their camp. His fellow soldiers were intimidated by this beast. He was volunteered to herd the beast out of camp; being a Wyoming Cowboy, he had the skills to deal with this animal. He soon found out that he possessed absolutely no water buffalo herding skills. Ray was shown up by a young Vietnamese boy who calmly spoke to the water buffalo and was able to coax it out of camp. Ray was honorably discharged from the Army on November 2, 1970. He received a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Regulation Medal, an Army Expert Marksmanship Badge for M-14, and two Overseas Bars for Vietnam.
When Ray returned home, he worked for Union Pacific Railroad. If there was something to be done on the job he would do it; he could outwork just about anybody. He worked long hours, took every after-hours call-out, even worked holidays so others didn’t have to. Ray grew very close to his co-workers; he referred to them as his very close friends. After 39 years of working for Union Pacific, he retired only to return to his ranching roots. Ray dedicated 12 years as a volunteer for Sims Ranch. The Sims family soon became Ray’s second family. Ray found himself helping Sims children Mikilie, Hunter, and Braunson with anything they needed, and watched them participate in sports and rodeos. Ray just always wanted to show his love and support. They would go hunting together, riding horses, and Ray would spend his weekdays helping at their ranch. He would help dock lambs, shear sheep, brand cows, preg-test cows and —his highlight — feed the bum lambs. Ray would always have to bring about a dozen home every year to bottle feed; the bums spoke to his soft heart.
Ray somehow found time every spring to shear sheep all over Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada as a hobby. Even at the age of 72, he could shear more sheep than any young buck.
Ray was a member of the Evanston Elks Lodge and volunteered countless hours of his time. It was at the Elks Lodge where Ray met the love of his life, Leisa Reiter, in 1995. Ray and Leisa married on July 11, 2002. They did everything together; the only time they were apart were some summer Sunday mornings. Ray would go to Coalville on Sundays to help butcher animals at Boyer’s Meats. Ray helped butcher at Boyer’s for over 40 years, expecting nothing in return, just always glad to help. Ray and Leisa enjoyed camping, four wheeling, and traveling to see members of the Wagstaff family. Ray’s passions included hunting, watching western films, and rodeo. He gave so much of his time to help so many in the community with literally anything. You would never even have to ask; if he overheard that you needed help to get something done, Ray would come to the rescue, never expecting anything in return. After 20 years of marriage, Ray was taken from his family unexpectedly on August 29, 2022.
Ray had a love for animals. He would bring cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep and horses home. He got so much enjoyment from taking care of anything that would love him back. If Darby or Sadie wanted any animal to show in 4-H or just to have, it would be in the backyard the next day. Ray loved to help his children with the 4-H animals. The only reason Ray bought the blue second-gen Dodge that he drove around was to take Darby, Sadie and their horses to every parade, rodeo or queen contest. That included many trips to Cheyenne Frontier Days and to the Miss Rodeo Wyoming contests. Ray always wanted to make sure his kids didn’t miss any opportunity.
Ray had five children, Jeanna (Brent Martin), Garth (Sharon Robison), Laurie Wagstaff, Tristen (Michael Lucius), and Melissa Wagstaff (Bronzil Parks). Ray also raised two bonus children, Darby (Brett Noorda) and Sadie Rabold. Ray always provided for his children to make sure they had anything they wanted or needed; he would find a way to make anything happen. Ray had many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Jeanna’s family grew to add Kayden (Bailey & child Lyla), Connor, Olivia, and Aubrey. Garth’s family included children Kyler, Korbin, Malek, Emmery, Rigden. Laurie’s family included children Abi (Jake) and Gavin (Jade and children, Peyten & Parker). Tristen had children Braxton (Delaney and children Carter & Colten), Brayton (Monika and children Stetsynn & Jace), Madison, an angel who was called back to heaven, and Tristen’s stepchild, Broque. Melissa’s family grew to add a child, Dillon. Darby’s family grew to add children Brekn Ray & Bentley. Ray also left behind many nieces, nephews, and friends whom he loved dearly.
Ray’s family will hold a celebration of life in his honor on September 24, 2022, at the Evanston Machine Shop from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Ray will receive his 21-Gun Salute at 3:30 p.m. during the celebration of life. In lieu of flowers/plants, or gifts, Leisa asks that you donate to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Ray Wagstaff’s name.