Don Proffit

Born: Tue., Jul. 2, 1940
Died: Sat., Feb. 23, 2019


6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Fri., Mar. 01, 2019
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, Sat., Mar. 02, 2019
Location: Evanston South Stake Center

Funeral Service

11:00 AM Sat., Mar. 02, 2019
Location: Evanston South Stake Center

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Local legend and cowboy icon, Don Proffit, died on February 23rd, 2019 at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT from a heart worn out from packing over 100 years of living into just 78 years.

Don (Donny, Rowdy, or the Red Roan) is survived by his wife Claudia; his brother, Larry Proffit and sister-in-law and good friend, Pat Proffit; his sister Lola Baldwin and brother-in-law and high school buddy, Mel Baldwin;  Deanne Richins, his beloved baby sister; and his 100-year old Mother-in-Law, Lola Hamilton.

He is also survived by his 6 kids and their spouses: Clint and Veronica Proffit, Nonie Proffit and Cora Courage, Cody and Marty Linford, Kim Proffit and Jill Adams, Liberty and David Day, Tiko and Morgan Heaps; and his much-loved grandkids who he was so tickled by: Landon, Tietjen, Makinnen and Kaislyn Heaps; Degory, Eliza and Hight Day; Colter, Jackson, Kaycee, Eli and Flint Linford; Dustin Kruckenberg, Donny Bay, Jhett, Sorrell Lee, and Roany Proffit, Souf (Isaac) Proffit and Bianca Lester.

Also survived by his favorite, remaining, go-to mounts: Shiloh, Moriah, and Reba.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Dorothy and Hight Proffit; his father-in-law, John Hamilton; and his favorite and family-legend horses and dogs: Skipper, Brownie Chug, Cripple Creek, Rebel, Susie, Poco King Prom, Abbie, Calamity, Jello, Tramp, Jude, Rip, Bear, Pickles, Luke, Pan, Belle, Putt, Gruff, Jonesy.

Don’s funeral services and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 2, at 11 am at the Evanston South Stake Center. A viewing will be held at the same location the evening before (March 1,) beginning at 6 pm, and prior to the funeral on Saturday, at 10 am.

Though we all new he was mortal, his death came as a surprise and a shock to us, largely because his presence was powerful and constant, he seemed to us larger than life, “ten-foot tall and bullet-proof;” a force of nature. He was a living legend. But now, the stories, the adventures; that big, big personality; can move into the true place of legend. Don, one of the last true cowboys, (or buckaroos, as he would have preferred to have been called,) was a trailblazer. Those of us that knew and loved him, got to be along for the ride. His story is pretty much a series of death-defying adventures, up until this last one that he couldn’t quite duck.

“Wow, Dad, what an adventure.”

Don always knew he would be a cowboy, it seems, judging from scenes from his youth: him choosing to ride a horse while his brother rode a bike, and making sure to brand his stick horses with a car cigarette lighter. Though the little ranch south of Evanston on the Bear River got him started on that path, the cowboy life he’s lived was largely self-taught. He was a self-made man.

Cowboyin’ ended up taking him far out and away from the place he called home, and he probably couldn’t have guessed the adventures and the richness that it would bring.

He grew up on the ranch, learning hard-work and frugality at an early age in that hard-scrabble sort of existence. His mom and dad, Hight and Dorothy Proffit also taught and epitomized autonomy and a can-do attitude, as well as a strong sense of community-involvement and love for neighbors, which continued to be a part of Don’s life. He loved meeting people, and had a way of making them feel special and recognized. “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet,” seemed to be a guiding theme for his life.

After riding horses to school to some of the one-room school houses around Hilliard, he went to Evanston High, then on to college at the University of Wyoming, where he graduated with a degree in teaching vocational agriculture. He adventured across the world to New Zealand, where he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and got to see a lot of the world on his way home.

He married Claudia Ellin Hamilton December 26th of 1963, claiming that having an anniversary so close to Christmas ensured that he never got in trouble for forgetting it.

As a young man, newly married, Don ventured to Nevada, living on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation to teach vocational ag. There, his understanding of, and interest in the buckaroo way came into being. One day while he was out practicing roping in his yard, an Indian gentleman happened by and watched for a while. Finally, he commented, “You rope like shit. Come to my house, I’ll teach you to rope.” With that his education of a different way of working cattle and utilizing horses started. It focuses on true and more gentle horsemanship, skillful working with cattle, and fine horses and tack.

Coming back to this part of Wyoming to work for Deseret Land and Livestock, Broken Circle Cattle Company, and finally to own and run his own cattle, he brought this knowledge  with him, sharing this style of ranching and cowboying with neighbors and friends. Each year it has been tradition to invite surrounding ranchers and friends to his branding where roping and riding are practiced by young and old alike.

He liked to see things done right, and insisted that those who worked with him, particularly his kids, learn and handle the horses and cattle just so. This was accomplished at times with some enthusiastic “coaching.” (The idea was that it is more than just getting the job done, it is the manner in which the job is done. He often tried to explain this by asking, “Can you feel that?”) Good horses, good cattle, and good help, especially when it was his family—his wife, son and 5 daughters—were a major source of joy in his life.

A friend of one of his daughters once came to visit, to see the iconic picture of a cowboy that Don is. Don was asked what he does for fun. “My vocation is my recreation,” was his answer.

Having good, incredible times, as well as difficult and trying times along the way, he has traveled all over the western United States with his herd of, what he calls, “gypsy cattle,” trying to find pasture and places to winter. These travels took him from the wide open desert basins of Nevada, to Antelope Island in the middle of the Salt Lake, and brought him in contact with a lot of amazing and unforgettable people, whose acquaintances and friendships he prized above all. At times the difficult moments, which include flying hay to cows trapped on Antelope Island with a WWII bomber, praying for rain so the cows would have something to drink in Opal, Wyoming, dragging mired-down cows out of the sticky mud near Rock Springs, and countless days of being too cold, too hot, too wet, and too tired may have seemed to make the cost of this life too high. A cousin from back East who came to visit, agreed with that sentiment after a day or two of following Don around, exclaiming, “The price of beef is too low!” Despite all of this, though, this life, held so many joys for him, had a realness to it, and this life was the life he loved.

His family were privileged to be able to join in it with him, including Claudia his wife, who he first saw at a  4-H activity when she flew by him riding a horse bareback, and ripped off his hat, hooting like a wild thing (so he said.)
He got to live the life of his choosing. He loved and lived wholeheartedly, rich and full. People were drawn to him because he was the real deal.

He liked to sum up his sentiments about the wild, fun, trying, and soul-filling cowboy life in the conclusion of a poem that he loved by Gary McMahon:

Lord, I’d like to thank you for this cowboying day.
I’ve had me some fun a earnin’ my pay.
And I’d like to think I keep meat on the table
For a country that needs to stay fit and able
It’s a good life you gave me, these horses and cattle,
And I just want to say thanks for my day in the saddle.

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Jo Newkirk-Hornecker
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
My sincere sympathies for the loss of Mr. Proffit, it's obvious that he is loved and revered by family, friends and his community. May God be with you.

Lee Romsa
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
I am so sorry to hear of Donny's passing. I'm afraid I have taken it hard, as Donny was one of my favorites. I can only imagine how hard it is for his family. Family was all important to Don, and I never heard him speak of his own except in the most loving way. Don and I worked together at the Wyoming Livestock Board for 23 years and I always appreciated his hard work, cheerful nature and "get it down" attitude. He was a true Cowboy and a gentleman. I will miss him and his wry humor, wisdom and grit.

Jan Lewis
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Dearest Claudia and Family,

My deepest condolences go to you for your loss. It was a great adventure for me to live so near you on County Road 159 for those ten years. I pray that Heavenly Father's richest blessings of comfort and peace surround you at this time. My memories of Wyoming will be in my heart forever. Jan Lewis

Alvie and Pam Shaul
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Dear Claudia and the rest of the Proffit Family, We were deeply saddened to hear the news about Don. He was one of our first friends when we moved to the Deseret Livestock way back in those early days. Those team roping memories will stay with us forever. We also so loved to visit with him at the "horse sale" most summers and would meet up with him at the Uinta and Rich County fairs. Thanks for the memories Don. You will be missed.

Vicki Poppinga
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
We are so sad to hear of the passing of Don. We have such wonderful memories of him, that make us smile. Our love and prayers are with you and your families. Dennis and Vicki Poppinga

Wendy Wright
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
It was a privilege to know this man. He was a one of a kind, you just could feel it the moment you met him,that he had a special way, a certain charisma.
If I had lived in Wyoming I'm afraid I would of been hanging out at the Proffits place learning what I could. An awesome talented family.
I Loved watching him on a horse, his stature was that of captain Call or Augustus from lonesome dove, lol...he just could be what those stories are made of, cowboy heros. He wasThe real deal!
May God bless the family during this time of sorrow. He will be truly missed by all who knew him.

Lynzee Webb Dalton
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
I grew up in Evanston and remember Claudia from girls camp (I was in the Yellow Creek Ward). I was just younger than Tiko and remember her from High School. Also, my husband served a mission along side David Day in Brazil. Although I never knew Don, I was acquainted with those who loved him. I would like to express my most sincere condolences to the family. Reading his obituary, I felt I DID know him. What a beautiful sentiment it was. And what a truly remarkable man he was/is. I don’t think I need to tell you all how blessed you all were to have him as yours here on earth! Prayers of love and comfort during this trying time. May the sweet and unforgettable memories of this legend of a man carry you on through until you meet again.

Jacob and Lynzee Dalton and Family

Robert Blakeman
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Good man and a top hand. What a pleasure to know and speak with this individual on the occasions that I ran into him. Have high regard for him and his family. Good ride cowboy!

Andy Nelson
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Claudia and Family, Our condolences on your loss. Don is a great man, heaven gained another good cowboy and just a flat fun guy to be around. Can you imagine the stories being shared around the campfire right now. One thing is for sure, Don is going to like his new boss. I'm on the road to a performance with Brenn Hill this weekend, otherwise we would both be at the service. You are in our prayers. Andy

Nola Bluemel
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Dear Claudia, We were so shocked to see that Don has passed away.So sorry......we just figured all of us"kids" would like forever. My heart goes out to you and yours. We are in Mesa and won't be home in time for the funeral......I enjoyed reading the is well written and described him perfectly. Know that we love you and will come see you when we get home

Nola Bluemel
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Dear Claudia, We were so shocked to see that Don has passed away.So sorry......we just figured all of us"kids" would live forever. My heart goes out to you and yours. We are in Mesa and won't be home in time for the funeral......I enjoyed reading the is well written and described him perfectly. Know that we love you and will come see you when we get home

Mary Ann Andersen
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Dear Claudia and family, We are so saddened to hear of Don's passing. What a life he had and left so many with a positive influence. I know he will have those animals back to care for and keep him busy until you meet him again. Our hearts are with you. Don and Mary Ann Andersen.

Teal Stahl
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
We always loved hearing the stories Don told but mostly we loved the example he was to all of how to simply live a full life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this time of loss. Alan and Teal Stahl, former Evanston residents.

Troy Dieters
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
A nice guy, nice family. May the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ comfort and strengthen you all. My prayers and sympathies.

Duane Coombs
   Posted Mon February 25, 2019
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Vicki L Martin
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Kim and I are sending positive thoughts and prayers for your lose. He was what the real WEST was all about. Roots as strong and deep as the earth can hold. We love you and are deeply sadden about your lose. Much love and best wishes to you and your family.
Vicki and Kim

David Dale Pinter
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Don had True Grit. A great story teller and purveyor of sage advice. We shared Deseret Land & Livestock memories. I always enjoyed playing an Ian Tyson song for him and Claudia to dance to at any event I got to DJ. Even if he was leaving the event and had his coat on headed for the door, he turn back to the dance floor with his sweetheart in his arms.

Keep ridin' for the Brand...

Sam Clark
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Snow covered lane full speed right over top the cattle guard. Donny’s father explained in terms we all understood “good way to kill yourself not to mention brake a horses leg”. Kids late 40s-early 50s having fun building memories. Best to All Donny’s family Sam

Norris Woody
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Nonie and to all the Proffit Family,

I enjoyed meeting Don when I was out at the ranch in Evanston. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Williams Family
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Our family would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Don Proffit. Words fail to capture the pain of losing a loved one, and death is truly a painful enemy to the human family. Please take comfort in 2 scriptures found in God’s Word the Bible. John 5:28,29 speaks of the resurrection, and Revelation 21:3,4 promises the time in the future when death and mourning will be no more. Our prayers are with you.

Roger and Marilyn Diehl
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
We will miss him. We loved him

Dale Micheli
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
Love this good man and his outstanding family !!!

Chris Matthews
   Posted Tue February 26, 2019
I totally love Uncle "Chocolate". Loved that he teased me about being afraid of mice and being a little nervous about eating rocky mountain oysters. Seriously was a true John Wayne, but even better.

Gina Madia Mazzucola
   Posted Wed February 27, 2019
Don thought it was the funniest thing to ask me if I wanted to come help dock the sheep when I was young. I’ve always remembered that and it makes me smile. He was a highly respected and well-loved “buckeroo”. My heart goes out to Claudia, Nonie, Clint and the rest of the crew.

Brian V. Noland
   Posted Wed February 27, 2019
Sorry to hear of Don's passing. I still have a couple of his horses. Condolences to your family.

Lorin Moench
   Posted Wed February 27, 2019

SPATHIPHYLLUM was sent by Thousand Peaks Ranches, Inc..

Parry Davison
   Posted Thu February 28, 2019

PREMIUM FRUIT AND GOURMET BASKET was sent by Parry and Fred Baldwin .

We are so sorry for your loss. Thinking of your family. Love, The Baldwins

Vernon and Louise Stringer
   Posted Thu February 28, 2019
Claudia and Family; Our love and prayers are with you at this time of loss.You have so many precious memories of a great man to fill the void that is in your heart. Your Heavenly Father loves you and we love you. Vernon & Louise Stringer

Lee Romsa
   Posted Thu February 28, 2019

A GARDEN PATH was sent by Lee Romsa.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to you. We will miss Don greatly. His hard work, and good cheer always made our day. From his friends at the Wyoming Livestock Board

Vicky Dean
   Posted Thu February 28, 2019
Dear Claudia and Family.
Thanks for all the great memories that you all helped make for us. We think the world of you and our prayers are with you. Wish we could hop over the fence and give you all a hug. Sincerely, Jere and Vicky Dean

Theresa and Shiana
   Posted Fri March 01, 2019
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Wyoming Livestock Board
   Posted Fri March 01, 2019
The Wyoming Livestock Board, staff, Inspectors and Board members express our deepest condolences. Don's service to the agency, State, and most of all the producers of Wyoming is greatly appreciated and will be tremendously missed.

I personally have enjoyed and will miss his smile and " can do" attitude. His service and attitude have been exemplary and we would all do well to try and emulate these attributes.
Steve True

Jim Johnson
   Posted Fri March 01, 2019
So sorry to learn of Don’s passing. A lady from Evanston, in our ward, asked my wife if I had heard that Don had passed away, and as of last night (Thursday) I had not. I have fond memories of you two at the U of W. Thought you were the perfect match. I remember that he called you Claude Babe! Not surprised to read that Don had been a lifelong Cowboy!

Jim Johnson

Sharron Martin Zaharias
   Posted Sat March 02, 2019
Don was always so kind to me when he came to the ranch to preg check the cows. He always made the work fun. Love and prayers to your family.

Blaine and Sheri Kemp
   Posted Sat March 02, 2019
Our hearts are heavy and filled with sorrow for your great family. The beautiful tribute that was written for Donny was amazing.We will miss this good friend. It's hard to believe he has gone to higher grounds. One of the many memories I (Blaine) have with him is the time I was able to help Donny at one of his "brandings". I'll never forget when he told me I handled cattle about as well as anyone. This was such a great compliment to me, coming from such a great cowboy like him.Then, a few calves later, he chewed my ass out for stretching a calf a little too hard! Now that's the Donny I know and love!! I have always respected this man and valued his friendship. Sheri has always liked Donny too. The first time I introduced her to him he made her feel like a long-time friend. We look forward to seeing him again someday!You are all in our prayers and we are here for your family if you need anything.
Love Blaine & sheri Kemp

Kim hamilton eklund
   Posted Sat March 02, 2019
Dear family,
Wish we had heard sooner would have made the trip over the mountain to be there. Prayers and love are with you.

Wesley B Whittaker
   Posted Sun March 03, 2019
so sorry for your loss! You are on our minds and in our hearts! Wes and Judi

Donna Booth and Dwain
   Posted Sun March 03, 2019
We were sorry to hear of your family's loss because Donny was such an influence and it will cause a big void. The article in the paper was a great tribute to him. It is good to read of a someone to lived their dream.

Happy Cluff
   Posted Tue March 05, 2019
I was privileged to be Don's missionary companion in New Zealand. He was a great man. I fun person to be around. My fondest memory is his phrasing of "We thank Thee O'God for Elder Proffit." I laugh to this day every time I sing that wonderful Hymn and have passed it on to my grand children.

We on a rugby team.

Fred N
   Posted Tue March 05, 2019
To the Family ,
I would like to express how sorry to hear of your loss. The pain of losing a loved one is a pain that seemingly never goes away. However, the pain can lessen when we think of what God has promised to do for us.
What comfort does he provide us? First of all, at 1 Cor 15:26 it says: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." So God views death as an enemy and will eventually remove death.
Secondly, Jesus gave us hope when at John 11:25 he said: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" So there is a chance to see our loved ones again under better conditions.
This comfort from the Bible has helped me in dealing with the loss of my father and I hope it will help your family to some degree with your loss.

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