December 10, 2020
Katy Jane, 89, passed away on Dec. 1, 2020, after a valiant struggle with old age.
Katy Jane was born April 21, 1931, in Thermopolis, Wyo., the daughter of Tom and Kathryn Sanford. Katy Jane's parents and brother, Norman, left Wilbaux, Mont., during the great depression after a severe winter killed most of their livestock. When they arrived in Thermopolis in their Model A car, they were out of gas and broke. Katy Jane's crib was the top drawer of a dresser in cheap hotel.
Katy Jane's father started over in the ranching business. Katy Jane grew up in a man's world riding horses, driving cattle and herding sheep. She was always with her father. When World War II erupted, all able-bodied men went to war. This left old men, women and girls to do most of the ranch work. Katy's father left for the military leaving Katy as her father's "go-to" top hand.
When the war was over, Katy's brother and her future husband, Merrill Brown, came home from Germany. Katy Jane was a junior in high school when Merrill proposed to her. Tom said he would not allow his daughter to marry Merrill until she graduated high school and attended college. In true Katy Jane determination, she graduated high school in three years with honors. She attended college for a year and married Merrill Brown.
Katy and Merrill had five children. Merrill died of a heart attack at the age of 44, leaving Katy a widow in a man's world to support children and keep the ranch financially afloat. Katy Jane married Van Irvine and together they ranched in Arizona and Wyoming. Katy came back to her hometown of Thermopolis to retire.
Katy Jane is survived by daughters, Kathy (Don) Gilbreth of Meeteetse, Wyo., and Teresa (Bruce) Brown of Hulett, Wyo.; sons, Brad (Toni) of Yuma, Ariz., and Matt (Teresa) Brown of Thermopolis; 10 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by daughter, Sandra (Ted); and her husbands.
Cremation has taken place. No services are planned at this time. A celebration of life will be held next summer due to Covid-19 concerns and; her wishes.
(No last name is used at the request of family.)