John "Jack" Peila

Died: Sun., Sep. 23, 2018


Recitation of the Rosary

7:00 PM Fri., Oct. 05, 2018
Location: Holy Family Catholic Church


Memorial Mass

11:00 AM Sat., Oct. 06, 2018
Location: Holy Family Catholic Church


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John (Jack) Michael Peila, Jr.

John Michael Peila, Jr., better known as Jack, passed away Sunday, September 23, 2018. He was five days shy of reaching his 94th birthday. Jack was born on September 28, 1924 at the family ranch near Meeker, CO, where he was delivered by his aunt. The Meeker ranch was sold later and his family moved to Lakewood, Colorado, where they operated a dairy. They milked 40 cows by hand at 3:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and the milk was sold for .08 per quart. His nine year old brother, Wendall, drove the milk delivery truck. In addition to the dairy, they also ran beef cattle, so there was never a shortage of work.

Jack was a competitor. In high school he was a three sport athlete; competing in football, wrestling and track. He qualified for the Colorado State High School track meet as a mid-distance runner. Jack earned a football scholarship from Colorado State University and attended college for a year. However, rodeo was his real passion!
At 15 years of age, he hitchhiked to his first rodeo. He mainly competed in bareback riding and bull riding, but would also calf rope and bull dog at the closer rodeos. His main mode of travel during this time was hitchhiking and occasionally (borrowing) a train ride. To help pay his entry fees while rodeoing, he worked for a stock contractor out of Idaho, rode horses and braided bull ropes to sell. He later made bull ropes for his own kids when they took to the rodeo arena. Jack also periodically judged rodeos when he was recuperating from one rodeo injury or another. Jack regularly competed and placed in the Harney County Senior Team Branding at the Fair, with his final performance just a few weeks shy of 93rd birthday. He and Smoke Kayser (Lori Peila’s dad) won the event the first year it was held.
He joined the first professional rodeo cowboy association, called the Cowboys’Turtle Association, which became the Rodeo Cowboy Association (RCA), in 1945 and now is known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA). It was while competing at the Denver Stock Show he met his future wife, Theresa. She was a member of the press for KLZ radio station in Denver. When Jack noticed her in the press box, he boldly asked her to hold his dirty bull rope while he rode his bareback horse. This provided a great excuse to go back and officially meet her. Jack and Theresa went on their first date using his family’s milk delivery truck for transportation. Thus began the courtship that resulted in marriage less than a year later.

Jack and Theresa were married on June 25, 1946 at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Denver, CO. They left following the reception for a rodeo, where they spent their honeymoon camped out on a lawn in a dusty sleeping bag that Jack pulled from the trunk of the car, much to Theresa’s surprise. This was the beginning of what the city girl from Denver had in store for her with the life of a cowboy.

Their first ranch was purchased in Cope, Colorado with Jack using his rodeo winnings to purchase heifers. After his second child was born, the decision was made to ranch full time instead of following the summer rodeo circuit. In 1949, he sold the Cope ranch and purchased a larger ranching operation on Moon Creek near Miles City, Montana. The family grew by an additional five children, yet the home had poor indoor plumbing and no electricity. With the oldest child approaching high school, Jack and Theresa had to be thinking about moving closer to a school where the children would not have to be boarded out. They also desired to have a larger ranch and the Moon Creek area had limited opportunities for expansion. Thus began the search for a larger ranch.

In the spring of 1959, the family moved to Harney County and purchased a ranch from Burtt, Jo, Hollie and Bub Schroder. The Schroder ranch came with some cattle, however Jack’s heifers and saddle horses were sent by rail from Montana to Oregon. With the winter range located south of Burns and the summer range located near Wagontire, cattle were trailed horseback between the two down the highway 20/395. There were many hours in the saddle and Jack relied on his children and sometimes an occasional friend or ranch hand. The practice of trailing cattle down the highway ended in the mid 1980s due to the increased traffic. A cattle truck was purchased for transporting the cattle. In Oregon, the family grew by three more daughters and for the first time, they enjoyed electricity. Jack continued to acquire land and added Wagontire Mountain, Butte Valley and several other properties. He was a self-made man and was proud of his ranch and accomplishments.

Jack’s passionfor rodeo was passed on to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The family traveled to high school and junior rodeos all over the state. He could be found at the bucking chutes, helping not only his own kids, but others to get down on their horses or bulls. Jack served as President of the Western States Jr. Rodeo Association for several years. He was instrumental in establishing the first Harney County High School Rodeo in 1972, which was also the state finals. For many years, Jack donated roping livestock and awards for the Harney County Fair and was an avid 4-H supporter. He also served on the Fair Board and he and Theresa were named as Grand Marshalls in 2009. Jack was also a Grassman of the Year recipient and served on the Board of Directors for Production Credit Association (PCA) for several terms.

For Jack, importance in life was in this order: God, Family and Ranch. He was a life-long member of the Catholic Church and for years was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was very proud of his large family. Jack always enjoyed his time with family, and especially loved seeing the little ones. Jack took his commitment to Theresa seriously and devoted many years to caring for her. She was always his main concern and was proud of all her life accomplishments and felt she gave up many opportunities to marry him. Jack was a kind, compassionate person and always helped those in need, especially those that needed it the most. He will be remembered for easy going personality and infectious smile. Jack, being a humble man, would be the last to speak of his legacy, but there is no denying his legacy of faith and family, will endure for generations.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Alta: brothers, Joe and wife Martha, and Wendall: sister, Barbara and husband Nick Massaro; and son -in-law, Daryl Ross. He is survived by his wife Theresa of 72 years and their children: Susan (Larry) Otley, Linda (Derrald) Mann, Mike (Sallie) Peila, Mary Jo (Lou) Davies, Bill (Lori) Peila, Ann Ross, Nellie (Scott) Franklin, Katie (Keith) Baltzor, Margarita (Jon) White and Toni (Mario) Recanzone, 32 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren; sister, Catherine (Ray) Tracy of Stevensville, MT and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Holy Family Catholic Church, EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) and/or Right to Life.

Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be held Friday, October 5th at 7:00 p.m. and Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00a.m. Saturday, October 6th. Both will be held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Burns, OR. A lunch and sharing of memories will immediately follow at the Burns Elks Lodge. A private family burial will take place on the ranch.

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Patti Wagner
   Posted Mon September 24, 2018
So sorry for your loss. He and Teresa raised a wonderful family. Prayers and hugs. Patti Wagner

Janet Kraal Coughran Molder....Grand daughter of Ida Otley.
   Posted Sat October 06, 2018
I only met him once with my uncle Charlie Otley when I lived in Burns. They were both extremely nice gentlemen. Prayers and spirit surrounding your family.

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