Wayne Pearson of Absarokee, Mont., passed away at 10:45 a.m., Saturday, April 30, 2016, in the presence of his loving children and their families.
He had recently celebrated his 89th birthday. Wayne was born to Arthur and Cecile Pearson of Powell, Wyo., on Feb. 17, 1927.
Wayne met the love of his life, Von Nita Maurine (Lewis) Pearson while in high school. In 1945, he joined the United States Army to fight in World War II. He came home from Japan when his younger brother, Lloyd, died in a farm accident. Sensing the fragility of life, Von Nita said, “Life is too short…let’s get married right now!”
They did on May 28, 1946, and cherished each other for the next 64 years. Since her passing in February of 2011, he had been patiently waiting to join her in Heaven.
He attended Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., and was proud to have been in the first graduating class. They homesteaded at Heart Mountain after Wayne’s return from the war and lived in a Japanese barracks with snow drifting in the corners. They traded the homestead in Wyoming for a ranch at Belmont, Mont., and later sold this ranch to buy the Midnight Canyon Ranch. He found his “Heaven on Earth” when he purchased this ranch on the Stillwater River near Absarokee.
Fulfilling a childhood dream to own a cattle ranch in Montana, he was happiest on his horse, Champ. Always the entrepreneur, Wayne went on to build and operate the Absarokee Ranch Supply and even spent some time prospecting for gold in the California desert.
In 1975, Wayne went to work for Stillwater County as its first Weed Control Supervisor. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award after serving as President of Montana’s Weed Control program.
He served on the Noxious Weed Trust Fund Council and was a delegate to Washington, D.C. on the Intermountain Noxious Weed Committee. He worked closely with the MSU’s Extension Service to map noxious weeds. He presented many annual “weed tours” where he provided on-site seminars concerning long-term range management.
He also developed innovative natural bio-control methods such as placing goats on Yellowstone River islands and importing special insects from Europe to fight the noxious weed, Leafy Spurge.
Retiring from the county at age 84, Wayne continued to provide support and information to Stillwater County’s farmers and ranchers. He was in charge of Absarokee’s waste water treatment plant for over 40 years.
He was a member in good standing of the local VFW post. He helped his father build the first EUB church in Absarokee and he and Von Nita were instrumental in building the new Evangelical church right across the street. One of his favorite projects was the church camp near Nye, Mont.
He was a friend and mentor to just about everyone he met and will be missed by many.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Lloyd, and his wife Von Nita.
He is survived by his sister, Betty Heinrich of Louisville, Colo., and his children Connie Schleivert (Russ) of New Orleans, La., Jim Pearson ( Pam ) of Absarokee, Bob Pearson (Kari) of Billings, Cindy White (Steve) of Billings, and Cathy McClurg (Shawn) of Absarokee as well as his numerous and loved grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind many good friends including his best friends, Chuck Egan, Hank McNeil and Jim Larson.
Wayne loved the Lord with all his heart and was generous, kind, and an icon in the community. A celebration of his life will be held at the Evangelical Church at 34 Woodard Ave., in Absarokee on Memorial weekend, Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m. Memorials may be made to the Absarokee Evangelical Church, Hospice Care, or the charity of one’s choice.