My husband’s uncle, Bernard “Butch” Hein was a cattle rancher in Forsyth, Montana. Butch came into ranching by birth, coming from a long line of ranchers. Butch raised cattle, and since I have been able to eat and later buy some of the beef he raised, I can tell you that it tasted excellent. I think most of us thought that the iconic rancher would always be there, but on October 13, 2023, that all came to a tragic end, when Uncle Butch was killed in a car accident. It was such a shock to so many people. You are never prepared to lose a loved one, but when it happens to someone who was still so full of life, it is even more of a shock.

Butch never really wanted to be anything else but a rancher, but of course, when he graduated from high school the Vietnam War was in full swing, and Butch was drafted into the Navy. That era was a tough time for a lot of people. Many people felt like the United States was in a war that was a “no-win situation,” and we should get out of it. There were protests and a whole lot of hate going around. There were people who dodged the draft by running to Canada. Not Butch though. He and his older brother, Eddie both served. Eddie was in the Army. The brothers served honorably, and both came home. They loved their country, and we are so proud of both of them.

After his discharge, Butch came home, met, and married Bonnie Wertz. They started a family, and for a time everything was great. They had a son and were expecting a daughter, but Bonnie was sick. They hoped to have their daughter and get treatment to save Bonnie. Unfortunately, Butch lost both of them. Then, it was just Butch and his son, Scott. Still, they were together, and when he grew up, Scott got married to Terri Wiederrick. They had three beautiful children, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. Scott and his son Carson both wanted to be in ranching, and now, they have taken over the ranch, which is bittersweet for them. Their dream was to take over the ranch someday, but the plan was to be when Butch retired, not this way. Now, the ranch belongs to Scott, but there is something missing. His dad was supposed to be there in an advisory capacity if nothing else.

Scott and his family aren’t the only ones who feel the loss. Nor is the rest of our family. Butch used to go to the same hang out most mornings to meet up with friends for coffee and breakfast. I’ve heard that there are people in that group who just can’t go anymore. It just hurts too much. I suppose some of those people will eventually go back, and I would assume that Butch wouldn’t want them to stop going. Still, it may be a while before they go back, because I think it will be a very long time before we will be able to face the loss and how it happened. Today would have been Butch’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Butch. We love and miss you very much.

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