The Pope of Slope County: Bowman rancher to be honored by North Dakota Stockmen’s for contributions to industry

He once was seen in various places -- in the air, piloting his Cessna to help ranching neighbors find a lost bull or to get a needed machinery part; or seen at meetings, heading up boards and organizations; and he was seen at the ranch, so often ...

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Submitted Photo Bowman rancher Stanely Pope, who died in a ranching accident last year in June, will be honored at the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Convention and Trade Show today in Dickinson.

He once was seen in various places - in the air, piloting his Cessna to help ranching neighbors find a lost bull or to get a needed machinery part; or seen at meetings, heading up boards and organizations; and he was seen at the ranch, so often at the ranch. His beloved TP Ranch, started by his great-grandparents.
And it was the last place he was, cradled in son Doug’s arms on the ground near a corral fence. A cow had charged and connected, causing 81-year-old rancher Stanley “Stan” Pope to fall off a fence. He landed head-first on June 10, 2013.
Now something else is being seen - not how the man died, but how he lived.
Today, the life-long Bowman rancher is being honored at a banquet in Dickinson. He is to be a recipient of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association’s Honorary Membership Award.
“It’s one of our most prestigious honors,” said Julie Schaff Ellingson, the association’s executive vice president.
“It’s for his contributions to our industry and way of life,” she added. “He embodied the values ...”
Beside helping his wife, Joan, raise three sons, a daughter, among other things, he was a pilot, and assistant chief and chief for the Bowman Fire Department; president of the North Dakota Fire Chief’s Association; a Slope County deputy sheriff; Slope County Fair Board member; 4-H leader who received the 2001 Friend of 4-H Award; Bowman Airport Authority board member; director for Little Missouri Grazing Association; life member of Dickinson Elks Lodge; member of the the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and North Dakota Hereford Association; a North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame trustee; volunteer for the North Dakota High School Rodeo finals; winner of the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2001 Farmer/Rancher of the Year Award; and recipient of an Future Farmers of America Honorary Chapter Farmer Award; and was named a North Dakota State University Harvest Bowl Slope County Agriculturist Honoree.
And he still had time to be funny - an example is sitting south of Amidon next to U.S. Highway 85.
When someone passes by, there it is: an open range, an actual old, rusty, open range - his wife’s old stove with the oven door open, and with an explanatory sign stating that it is an “open range.”
Stnaley reportedly had waited patiently for the old stove to finally conk out - unbeknownst to Joan - so he could haul it to that prominent piece of TP Ranch and create what’s been a landmark now since 1992, his son Doug said.
“He was a fun-loving guy respected by his neighbors,” Ellingson said. “He was a good solid cattleman and a witty guy.”
He enjoyed men’s night at the golf course; occasionally he would even take his golf clubs. His friends reportedly miss his “technique” when playing cards for breakfast or quarters.
“He was getting semi-retired,” Doug Pope said.
Doug, 59, who now runs the ranch with another brother, Duane Pope, 57, said to sum up his dad, besides being a leader in the ranching industry and his community: “He was just a good cowman and cowboy, always proud of his work and proud of his cattle, and he just did things right, got them done, was never behind.”
The piece of advice he remembers his dad giving him was to “keep a tight fence.”
Stanley - who helped other young pilots along the way - was still flying his plane in his ’80s. Doug said he remembers he had flown “probaby the day before” he died.
Doug said his dad would fly to various towns, Rugby, Minot, Fargo, Miles City, Mont., Rapid City, S.D., to pick up a belt or pulley or whatever that a neighbor or the local implement companies needed. They could get it faster that way. Stanley could also spot, in the air, a neighbor’s lost bull lying in a draw under tree. And he’d fly to check his cows after a lightning storm or during calving, getting as low as 50 feet.
“The cows were used to it,” Doug said.
Doug said his dad’s favorite horse was a roan quarter horse mare, Rusty, that he rode for most of her 29 years, Doug said.
“She knew cows. She wasn’t afraid of bulls. … She knew what cow going to do before the cow did,” Doug said.
Stanley bought her as a colt in 1959 and trained her. However, for the first 10 years, she was rusty, all right: Every spring, the first time he got on her back, she’d buck him off - and then she would be fine the rest of the year.
“Stanley was a rugged cowboy to the end - he was tough on his family and looked for the best from them - and he never expected more than he was willing to do himself,” according to his obituary. “Words of emotion were few, but Stan loved and extremely proud of his family. His sole grandchild (Rani) and two great-grandchildren (Elli Jo & Ty) were his pride & joy.”
Doug said he never saw his dad cry. But maybe there would have been happy tears about this: Granddaughter Rani Lloyd, 31, of Edgeley, wants to take over the ranch someday - and Doug expects she will.
“She’s pretty handy around the cattle, has her own horses and comes out whenever she can,” he said.

Grantier is a reporter for The Dickinson Press. Contact her at 701-225-8111.

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