In the quiet of the falling snow, on the morning of March 5, 2023, God called home a great cowman, cowboss and cowboy, Lawrence Bugas. Lawrence was born Jan. 16, 1929 in Rock Springs, Wyoming to Susie and George Bugas. He was the youngest of six children, and he benefited from the blessings of being the “baby” of the family.
His parents were immigrants to the United States who believed grit, hard work, determination, love and service would take a person places, and they instilled these traits in Lawrence.
Lawrence had the joy of growing up on the family homestead, high up on the windy Nebraska Flats in southwest Wyoming. He attended a one-room schoolhouse on the ranch until sixth grade, then attended school in Rock Springs for one year. He graduated from Mountain View High School in 1947.
As a boy, Lawrence loved animals. He always wanted pets and was pleased that his Dad let him have rabbits, pigeons and several beloved dogs. He enjoyed shadowing his father – learning to work the land, breaking the meanest of horses, understanding how water would flow best to irrigate each parcel and feeding animals for optimal growth.
During this time, he also realized he did not want to raise pigs, milk cows or grow crops. Instead, he wanted to raise cattle on big country, which required him to ride to gather, just like he saw his neighbors do.
After completing high school, Lawrence attended the University of Wyoming for one year, before returning home to make a career out of ranching. He began this career using horses to gather cows, harvest hay, dig ditches and feed his livestock.
He happily witnessed and accepted the evolution of tractors and their benefits as they took over many of the duties on the ranch. However, he was adamant there was nothing that could beat, out work or replace a tough horse underneath him when it came to working cattle.
On Sept. 7, 1957, he married his best friend, Aileen Micheli. Together they raised six children and grew the cattle operation from a few head to what it is today.
They both loved quiet mornings looking out at the country, calving cows, moving cows, haying and Autumn.
Ranching was not just a job or a way of life, but a passion for Lawrence. Long hours that turned into long days never seemed to bother him because he never felt that what he was doing was work.
Lawrence lived by the Code of the West – to live each day with courage, take pride in your work, always finish what you start, do what has to be done, be tough but fair, when you make a promise keep it, ride for the brand, talk less, say more, some things aren’t for sale and know where to draw the line.
He believed he was spoiled, as no matter what his age he always had neighbors, friends and family who treated him to a movie, candy, a cup of coffee, a donut, a hot toddy or a friendly chat.
Lawrence was service oriented and lived by the phrase, “If you always get paid for everything you do, that is all you are ever going to get out of life?”
He was a member of the 4H/FFA Sales Committee, Farm Loan Board and Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He was also a trustee for St. Helen’s Catholic Church, a lifetime member of Lion’s Club and served on the Bridger Valley Conservancy District for 30 years.
Lawrence had a deep love for family, cattle, land, water and Wyoming. But, at the end of the day, he was most proud of the fact he had raised good kids, built a beautiful ranch and finally had a herd of well-built, heavily muscled and calm-mannered Angus cattle that produced an even, heavy bunch of steers when they walk across the scales in September.
Lawrence is preceded in death by the love of his life Aileen, his parents Susie and George, his siblings and their spouses George Bugas, John (Anetha) Bugas, Margaret (Stanley) Hayes, Mary Lou (Chuck) Hlinka, Irene (Roy) Worthington and cherished old time cowboys, friends and neighbors.
Lawrence leaves behind his sons and daughters Larry (LaDonna) Bugas, Mary Sue Carroll, George (Colette) Bugas, Anne Marie (Larry) Anderson, Jonette (Michael) McNamee, Irene (Mark) Coffield, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
A Rosary will be held on Monday, March 13 at 9 a.m., followed by a viewing and visitation at 10 a.m. and funeral mass at 11:00 a.m. Services will be held at Saint Helen’s Catholic Church in Fort Bridger with interment at the Fort Bridger Cemetery.