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John Robert "JR" Cowger

John Robert “JR” Cowger, 79, passed away on March 1, 2022, in Thermopolis, Wyo.

JR was born on October 5, 1942, in Thermopolis, Wyo. He was the oldest of three children born to John Halford and Leona Bertha (Shafer) Cowger. He spent his early years in Thermopolis, graduating from Hot Springs County High School in 1961. He enjoyed FFA and rodeoing during those years, competing in saddle bronc riding and team roping. Shortly after graduation, JR enlisted in the National Guard.

He was an avid hunter and for many years he was a guide for other hunters in the Thorofare (near Yellowstone National Park).

During his marriage to Cindy Benintendi, three beautiful daughters were raised. Though the marriage ended in divorce, his daughters continued to be the grandest part of his life. He shared his secrets of fishing with them, his love for horses and how to ride. There wasn’t a creek that couldn’t be fished, no matter how small or narrow, the fish were there, and he knew just how to catch them.

For many years, JR worked the ranchland and was married to Phyllis Armstrong. They later divorced and he transitioned to driving the open road in an 18-wheeler all around the country with his faithful companion, Toby, the Boston Terrier. JR also spent time taking care of horses. As a farrier, he enjoyed getting to visit with many people.

JR never met a stranger. If he didn’t know you, after a few stories and a joke or two, you felt like old friends. Many times, the stories he shared would involve his daughters or grandchildren. He loved bragging on them and showing pictures. At home, he loved to watch old western movies and read Louis L’Amour books. He also did leatherwork and enjoyed painting. These are things he found relaxing and sometimes JR would share his creations with family. He loved his family fiercely. If they needed him, he would drop everything to go help.

He is survived by his daughters, Michelle (Todd) Dawson of Billings, Mont., Jenifer (Jeff) Grimm and Stefanie Ireland all of Thermopolis, Wyo .; grandchildren, Ashley (Ben), Kaylee, Madeline, Austin and Lee; great-grandchildren, Thomas and Brooklin; and sister, Norma (Butch) Asay.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, James “Jim” Cowger.

Cremation has taken place and no formal services are planned at this time. Memorial donations may be made to the Elks Lodge 1611. Please send checks to 1202 Beck Ave Cody WY 82414. Online condolences may be made at


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