Leland Hayes Shirley was born in Bozeman, Montana, Jan. 30, 1974. He passed away Feb. 25, 2017, in Gilroy, California, at the age of 43.
He grew up on his family ranch, south of Musselshell, Montana, learning many skills that served him later in life.
He attended Custer Public School, enduring the scholastics, while thoroughly enjoying basketball and track. Hunting, fishing, the San Francisco 49ers, Charles Barkley, Chevy pickups, and dogs, also topped his list during his teen years. He graduated from Custer High, in 1993.
Leland joined the Navy in 1994, serving 2 years on the USS O'Bannon. After his discharge, he took up horseshoeing, and moved to California. He became a proficient farrier, building a large and loyal clientele, in the San Juan Bautista area, continuing this profession up to the time of his death.
He was meticulous about his beard, loved clothes, and had impeccable credit. An artist with his hands, he built beautiful knives, was a skilled woodworker, an excellent cook, and he loved Idaho Spud candy bars. Hiking with, and taking his dogs for daily runs, was his "tonic." Henry Coe State Park, was many times his destination, being a very special place for Leland.
He leaves behind his brothers Clint, and Sam, both of Billings. His two nieces, Brianna, and Mckenzie, also of Billings, his parents Stuart and Annie of Melstone, his Grandmother, Mary Katherine Egan of Bozeman (he was the eldest of her 27 grandchildren), a huge family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and a multitude of friends in California.
He was preceded in death by his Uncle Lou Egan, Aunt Marla Egan, cousins Patrick Morin, Isaac and Nathan Perry, and Grama Betsy Shirley.
A special thank you to Jim and Jennifer Ogawa, of Gilroy, and to Sally Alonso for giving him his happiest years. God Bless.
A family memorial takes place this July.
In honor of this young mans life, hike to your favorite place, and observe all that is good, and right with this world.
"May the light of the Lord shine
like a candle in the window,
welcoming his weary traveller"
* Irish Blessing*
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Mar. 21 to Mar. 22, 2017.