Born on a team drawn bobsled February 15, 1923, Donald Elton “Don” Abarr was born of tough stock, preparing him for the future that awaited.

Don spent much of his life as a working cowboy, following his Naval service during World War II. He was quite a tumbling tumbleweed, always on the search for his cowboy heaven as he worked on many outfits throughout Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. Don had the good fortune to meet—and become friends with—numerous old timers as well as up-and-coming cowboys—both working and rodeo—and many great bosses during his tenure as a cowboy.

At one point, he and his friend Al Smith were given $25 to help get back to Montana from California, a story shared in his book Hoofbeats on the Wind – TALES OF A SAGEBRUSH COWBOY that he and his fifth (and last) wife Dorothy wrote while living in Lambert, Montana. It has been said that “reading his book is like sitting at a table listening to Don tell a story.” He loved to have people stop by for a visit and always offered up a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, as that was “the cowboy way.”

Don built miles upon miles of fence, packed horses, wrangled (including for the movie Little Big Man), calved, lambed, roped, branded, wore a leather belt with his name on it, logged, worked on oil rigs, built bridges, fought bare fisted, always carried a cotton handkerchief, tended bar, dug ditches, trapped gophers for a penny each, rep’ed, trailed cattle, rode slick-heeled and not, was at times able to polish the mahogany more than he might should have, fished, read the Bible, was the proud owner of a Percheron work horse and his trusted pistol “Blue,” irrigated, owned a brand and a bedroll, hated rattlesnakes, ate more wild game than he cared to, got grounded less often than he rode ‘em, shod more than a few horses, smoked, worked a mining claim, healed and sometimes never healed from injuries sustained. Many jobs taken were stop gap measures ‘til he could get back to another cowboying job, as that was Don’s desired profession. He loved his God, his family, his friends, and his country. All in all, an ordinary—yet extraordinary—life for an independent working cowboy.

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