gravesite at Willow Creek Ranch
Gene Vieh
Open air memorial service
loading onto the wagon
walking to the gravesite
Minister reads from the word
lowering the coffin
pall bearers carry the coffin
Powell, Wyoming
Est. 1996
(307) 754 2084
copyright Coffins of the West all rights reserved
"It is the 28th day of May and the year is 2008.

Today we buried Gene Vieh and I saw yesterday. The weather forecast called for rain for the entire week, but today dawned clear, blue skies and white clouds. It was an old, real western funeral. A minister spoke and friends and family told stories of Gene's life.

In attendance were cowboys and ranchers from the Dakotas, Texas, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming. There were lawyers, businessmen, cattle people, a judge, a history professor from California, family members from Texas, Virginia, and Georgia and friends from everywhere.

The pine coffin was placed on an old wagon and a team of horses carried it to the top of a hill overlooking a long beautiful valley on the 50,000 plus acres of the Willow Creek Ranch.

We sang "Home on the Range" and "Amazing Grace". Taps was played. An American flag was folded by the military escort and presented to the family "on behalf of a grateful nation for service rendered". The coffin was lowered into the grave using ropes and the men in attendance, using shovels returned the earth to the grave.

As the minister spoke, a remarkable event occurred.

I noticed a small, black speck on a hill top far across the valley. As the image grew larger, I realized it was a horse. It was a beautiful, black horse and it continued galloping toward us until it was within 10 to 15 yards of the assembled group. With everyone watching, he stopped, shook his head and neighed for 15 to 20 seconds. He then turned and galloped back across the valley and disappeared over the hill. It would have been easy to believe that it was a trained animal and was scheduled to participate in the service. The timing was perfect. Maybe he was just curious and was doing what animals do. Then again, maybe not. It was eerie and breathtaking at the same time.

There is new growth on the trees, and the valleys are covered in the green of new spring grass. In the pastures are young lambs and calves running about. Down below at the ranch house, you can hear the activities of the grandchildren. The cycle continues, a dream lives and we become even more aware of our lost values."

In life, Eugene Harold Vieh, Jr was born August 9, 1937 and died May 17, 2008.

In spirit, Gene was born August 9, 1837 and died May 17, 1908.

The epitaph could read "Born 100 Years Too Late".
gravesite at Willow Creek Ranch
"My father was such a unique person -
a mix of cowboy, rancher, aviator, and adventurer.

We knew that he wanted to be buried on the ranch he so dearly loved but also knew that a traditional casket and funeral would not have fit.

We wanted something that reflected both who my father was as well as the lifestyle he loved. The beautiful handmade pine box did just that. Once we found Steve Cranford to fashion a western pine coffin, the rest was easy.

The entire funeral service, in the open air in a pasture on the ranch he loved so much, was a beautiful celebration of the life of a very unique man.

The handmade traditional "Old West" coffin fit perfectly into the scene and the atmostphere of the day - from the horse-drawn wagon carrying the coffin to the hill overlooking the ranch, to the many friends and family who hand-shoveled the dirt to fill the grave.

Many in attendance have told us how much the service affected them and really captured who my dad was."
-Bert Steele, long-time friend of Gene Vieh
-Kristen Vieh-Crago
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Cell (307) 254 0901