In the last days of 2013, Montana lost a beloved son, uncle, friend, and stockman. Shawn Pilster of Alzada (46) passed away on December 27 in his home on the family ranch. Shawn was active in the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA), Montana Public Lands Council, Carter County Sheep and Cattle Growers Association, and 4-H programs. He had served in the US Army for three years before being honorably discharged. Shawn went on to work for the timber industry, Caterpillar, and eventually, returned home to the ranch.
In 2010, Shawn won a new saddle at the MSGA convention, donated by NutraLix of Billings, Montana. The Pilster family has generously offered to donate the saddle back to MSGA’s Research and Education Endowment Foundation (REEF). Therefore, REEF will host a rollover auction of the saddle in Shawn’s honor at the MSGA Mid-Year Meeting in Miles City, as a fundraiser for its educational programs, leadership opportunities and academic scholarships.
“We cannot express how thankful we are to the Pilster family for their generosity and offer our sincerest condolences for the loss of Shawn,” said Dusty Hahn, chairman of MSGA’s Foundation. “The Foundation is glad to honor him at the Mid-Year Meeting, and with the money received from the rollover auction of his saddle, his legacy will live on through educational programs and youth leadership opportunities in Montana.”
Shawn loved life on the ranch… especially raising livestock. According to his obituary, Shawn often made pets of sheep and cows each year and could identify each one from a distance. He loved his nieces and nephews, and brought smiles and joy to those he was around.
His other love was taking scenic photography. Shawn won many awards for photos of sheep on the range and his Aurora Borealis images amazed everyone who saw his work. He would travel several hundred miles to attend Black Hills Photography Club.
“Shawn will forever be a part of the Black Hills Photography Club. We will miss him dearly, but also know he will be with us in spirit in all of our activities.”
Those wishing to support REEF programs through the rollover auction of the Pilster saddle are invited to attend the MSGA Mid-Year Ranch Tour Dinner at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds on June 13 at 6:00 p.m. Please contact the MSGA office in Helena for more information at (406) 442-3420.