Lloyd Shelhamer Jr. (1923 - 2010)

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Lloyd Shelhamer Jr., rancher and entrepreneur, died Oct. 20, 2010, in Billings at age 87. Lloyd was born Oct. 19, 1923, in Livingston to Mary Uhl Shelhamer and Lloyd Shelhamer Sr. He was the youngest of three children. He spent his early years on his family ranches near Wilsall. At a young age, he joined in his family's business of breaking horses to sell to the cavalry. As a little boy, he received his first pair of cowboy boots and was so excited he slept in them. From that time on, he was always seen wearing his cowboy boots and usually his cowboy hat too.

He graduated from Bozeman High in 1941, where he played basketball and football. After attending Montana State University briefly, he enlisted in the Army during WWII. He advanced to officer candidate school and became a pilot. He flew B-17 bombers during WWII as part of the 8th Air Force. During WWII, he married Colleen Hart, but they divorced a few years later.

He married Jane Ringling Shelhamer in 1950. Family was all important to Lloyd and he concentrated his efforts to providing for and raising his six children: Renee, Sharon, Shelley, Susan, John and Linda. Once he had six children, he decided it was time to give up rodeoing which he enjoyed with his uncle, Bob Shelhamer. He had ridden saddle broncs and steer wrestled.

Along with his dad, Lloyd raised race horses. In 1954, Jane and Lloyd built the Beaumont Racetrack and Night Club in Belgrade, which they ran through 1964. They introduced horse racing to many family and friends who went on to make racing a career. Jane died in 1988.

In 1957, they founded United Tote Company, which provided betting equipment to other racetracks in Montana and nearby states. After developing a computerized system in 1979, United Tote grew rapidly to a major international supplier with more than 130 customers. Feature articles were written in Forbes, Inc., Bloodhorse and other magazines. In 1994, United Tote began servicing Churchill Downs in Kentucky. The Shelhamers sold United Tote in 1994 and retired from the company in 1995.

Lloyd also managed racetracks throughout these years and particularly enjoyed operating Sunland Park, near El Paso, Texas. Lloyd was a director of the Thoroughbred Racing Association and received a lifetime achievement award from the Quarter Horse Racing Association in 1995.

In 1961, Lloyd purchased Cabin Creek Ranch northeast of Shepherd and continued to add to it over the years. He loved the cattle business and expanded farming on the ranch. Until two weeks ago, he still came to the ranch to appreciate the crops and the commercial Angus cattle.

Lloyd married Claudia Christensen Shelhamer in 1989. They both loved the racetracks and Claudia, a gifted artist, did the interior design on Sunland Park and other racetracks Lloyd managed. They traveled to Asia, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, Russia and South America. For several years, they lived in El Paso until he developed NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus) in 1997. He accepted this dreaded loss with grace and a sense of humor. This slowly progressing disease eventually robbed him of most of his short-term memory, but his smile, handshake, wink, social skills and love for family remained. Claudia took excellent care of Lloyd and he enjoyed a very good quality of life due to her efforts.

Lloyd was predeceased by his parents, Mary and Lloyd Shelhamer; wife, Jane Shelhamer; and sister, Mayda Johnson.

He is survived by his wife, Claudia Shelhamer and his sister, Elinor Amundson. He is also survived by his children, Renee Homme, Billings; Sharon Richey, Billings; Shelley Schwab, Billings; Susan Shelhamer, Billings; John (Karen)Shelhamer, Billings; Linda Shelhamer (Stephen Haraden), Billings; and Chris Holloway (Dave), Post Falls, Idaho. He is survived by his grandchildren, Michael Homme, Marc Homme, Jeff Richey, Eric Richey, Lora Greer, Tom Schwab Jr., Ty Schwab, Shiloh Seymour, Sarah Christensen, Dan Shelhamer, Jamie Shelhamer, Sam Shelhamer, Megan Shelhamer, Matt Shelhamer, Ivory Miller, Meadow Nilles, Breeze Plumb and Birch Haraden; and 33 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to American Legion Post 4, 1540 Broadwater Ave., Billings, MT 59102 or Riverstone Health Hospice at PO Box 1562, Billings, MT 59103, or the charity of your choice. Visitation is available noon to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., Billings, MT 59102. Funeral services and reception will be held Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. at the Elks Club, 934 Lewis Ave., Billings, MT 59102. Internment with military honors will be at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park.

Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 24, 2010
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