On Dec. 14, 2016 with family at his side our father, grandfather, and friend, Bernard B. Arnold peacefully passed away.
Bernard was born May 19, 1919 on the West Rosebud River. He was the third of 10 children born to William and Margaret Arnold. It was here that he learned to work hard “at a pretty young age.”*
He attended the Green School House in Fishtail through the 8th grade. He “wasn’t very happy about school.”* The first day of high school he was assigned a seat by the window, looking at the Beartooths that he was so fond of, he decided there was nothing in the classroom that could teach him to be a rancher so he “got up and walked out the back door, and never looked back.” This is when he went to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps that lasted six months. Also, he ran a trap line ”catching the occasional skunk”* and worked for a neighboring rancher.
“It was a Saturday in September 1939, and sure enough, walking the street was one of the neighbor girls and my school teacher. They called her Vonnie.” * After attending a dance that night, a special 72- year-bond was created. Bernard and Vonnie were married Aug. 14, 1940. With the permission of the Fishtail school board they lived at the teacherage for the first year. To this union were born three children Karen (Jack) Robbins, Larry (Vicki) Arnold and Rick (Deb) Arnold.
From 1946 to 1950 they began ranching on the West Rosebud and working various jobs to save enough money to purchase their own ranch. In 1949 they purchased the current ranch on the Stillwater River outside of Absarokee, “It was in terrible shape and I thought the price was right.”*
For four years he milked his own cows to supply the cheese factory in Columbus. At this point he sold the dairy cows to begin raising sheep and Black Angus Cattle. At one time he had over 800 sheep running on the Beartooths and Stillwater River. In 1972, he sold the majority of the sheep and purchased more Black Angus.
Always a steward of the land he was very proud of the tradition and the legacy that remains today as a premier Black Angus operation. Even after he moved to “town” he remained very active at the ranch well into his 80s. Between chores at the ranch he became well known for his woodworking projects. Spending many hours “in the shop”* building everything from china hutches to small replica horse drawn wagons that reminded him of his past. Giving them away to family and friends was of great joy to him.
In 2013, he moved into Shipp’s Assisted Living in Absarokee. The transition was hard as he could no longer fall asleep holding the hand of his beloved Vonnie. But he soon became a staple with the residents of Shipp’s. Always sharing his stories and being so proud to talk about his family. A family that was instilled with his hard working, loving and caring values.
Bernard was a life member of the Stillwater Wool Growers, Beartooth Stockgrowers Association, Immanuel Lutheran Church and Absarokee Lions Club. He was also an Honorary FFA member, 4-H leader, past member of the Absarokee School Board and past Director of the Federal Land Bank.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 72 years, Vonnie, his parents, four brothers and two sisters. He is survived by his three children and their spouses. Eight grandchildren; Curt (Ardona) Robbins, Sheri (Jim) Devlin, Will (Sue) Robbins, Corey (Kodi) Arnold, Scott (Kristen) Arnold, Kevin Arnold, Jess (Dylan) Lancello, and Andrew Arnold. Twelve great grandchildren; Jonathon (Terra) Robbins, Brandon Robbins, Jordan (Brittany) Hill, Corina (Mike) Szubinski, Jayson Robbins, Tyona Robbins, Kelsey, Zach and Danielle Devlin, Kasidy and Derek Robbins, Brynley and Ryley Arnold, and Ryal Lancello. Four great great grandchildren; Jaxston & Oaklyn Robbins, Aubree Szubinski and Vienna Hill. Older brother Bill Arnold, sister Clarice (Jack) Fawcett, Sister Ruth Mendenhall and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family would like to thank the tremendous people at Shipp’s Assisted Living for taking great care of our Dad and Grandpa. Tess, Charlene, Amber, Jackie, Sheri and Sarina and his four legged fuzzy companion Tinkerbell. Also a big thanks to Donna McClure and Riverstone Hospice.
Visitation/Viewing will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 at Smith Funeral Chapel in Columbus.
Funeral services were held at Immanuel Lutheran church in Absarokee Wednesday Dec. 21, 2016 at 1 p.m. Interment followed immediately after at Rosebud Cemetery with a luncheon following at the Church. Memorials can be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church or the charity of your choice. Smith Funeral Chapel of Laurel is in charge of the arrangements.
*Quotes are from a personal biography written by Bernard prior to his passing.