Steve Brawley, Corvallis, died April 20 at home with loved ones near. We opened the door to let his spirit roam free to the mountains he loved. He was born in Shattuck, Oklahoma, April 19, 1955 to Glyn and Freda Brawley.
He was a hard-knockin’ kind of kid, riding horseback on the Cimarron River, playing cowboys and Indians. Broke thirteen bones before he was 18. Nearly died getting thrown into a barb wire fence. 280 stiches held him together.
A star football player for the Okeene Whippets and the Carnegie Wildcats, he led with his head and played with several broken bones, including a hip. His teams won 107 of 113 games and he was All State, also playing baseball and basketball.
He rode bareback broncs and team roped, winning All Around Cowboy at several rodeos. He helped his Uncle Roy train racehorses.
Steve moved from Oklahoma to Montana to work in the oil fields in the seventies, but soon followed his first love as a wilderness hunting guide for the Fred Wright Outfitting and Guide School in the Bitterroot Valley. He taught there and guided hunters for many years and also ran his own outfitting business, Rock’B Outfitters in Corvallis. Steve enjoyed years of wild hunting adventures with his buddies and fellow guides in the Selway and the Sapphires.
He was a damn fine farrier and Longfellow’s line about the village smithy certainly applied. “The smith, a mighty man is he, with large and sinewy hands.” No amount of shoeing nails dragged across his hands or legs would stop him; he just shook the blood off and kept on hammering, trying to cuss with a mouthful of CH5 nails.
Steve was father to five children he raised with his lovely wife Alta. They were together for 25 years until her untimely passing in 2005. Steve liked to brag he could change a diaper with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other. He was a devoted wrestling dad, traveling the state and country with the whole family including his beloved dad Glyn. His sons were all Corvallis wrestling phenoms, with championships galore.
Steve was not a techno guy. He frequently flung his hated cellphone across the pasture to be trod upon by a wandering cow or horse or to be rolled over and smashed by his runaway pickup: that emergency brake did not work for decades.
Steve worked many tough jobs with mostly good humor and competence. He packed and guided for numerous outfitters and the Big Creek Dam Association; he never broke a bottle of their Ranger Whiskey. He night calved many long, cold winters for the Dick Smith ranch and got bowled over by a few ill-tempered mama cows. He raised his own cows and some fine Quarter horses. His old stallion “Yeller” died four days after Steve passed. We think he went looking for Steve.
Steve spent the past 16 years riding and roaming with his packing partner and love Nancy Stevens. They enjoyed many pack trips in the Selway, the Great Burn and the Bob Marshall. They especially loved equine events, from the Salmon Sale to Bishop Mule Days to the 3-day Event at Rebecca Farms.
Steve said when he died he wanted to go to “a valley where the grass is always knee high and the water runs cool and clear for some of the best friends I have known, my horses and mule pals.”
This genuine original cowboy wished happy trails to all and will sure miss “jawing” with all of his friends and neighbors. He was a good hand.
Steve was preceded in death by his father Glyn Brawley and wife Alta Brawley.
He is survived by Nancy Stevens, Corvallis; Adored mother Freda Brawley; Son Buckie Brawley (Brianna Nagel, Rodee Anderson, Audie Anderson, Billy Anderson); son Dustin (Sam) Brawley (Tristin Brawley, Kaydon Brawley, Aava Nelson, Braylon Nelson, Maverick Brawley, Rosie Brawley); daughter Sarah (Todd) Eisenhuth (Brooke, Seth and Levi Eisenhuth); son Chris (Katie) Brawley (Damien, Jesse, Christopher and Tehya Brawley); son Chance (Autumn) Brawley (Glyn, Vivianna and Adeline Brawley); sister Anita Brawley and sister Nancy Mosqueda.
A celebration of life will be held at 1:00 p.m. June 10, 2023 at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds in Hamilton in the Farmer’s State Bank Building.
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