Franklin Alan Grosfield

Thursday, March 21, 2019
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Franklin Alan Grosfield was born to Arthur and Mabel (Anderson) Grosfield of Big Timber, Montana 81 years ago. He spent his early years along with his sister, Bizz, at the Dugout Ranch in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains. The family then moved down the road to an adjoining ranch on the Yellowstone River, which his father had purchased in the late 1940’s. In 1950, they moved into their newly-built home a mile north of the old Bridge School and from there, the children graduated eighth grade. He attended Sweet Grass County High School, graduating as class valedictorian in 1956.

An adventurous outdoorsman, he and several schoolmates spent a lot of time in the Crazy Mountains in his mid-teens. They learned the arts of mountaineering, photography, hunting, camping, storytelling and survival skills from a favorite mentor. Franklin was an avid member of the group, eventually visiting almost all of the range’s peaks and lakes. In 1957, the group adopted the name “The Alpine Society”. They continued to explore together for nearly a decade, until settling down and sharing the traditions with their families.

In his late teens, Franklin spent weeks at a time in the sheep wagon tending flocks as well as helping with the cattle. While studying civil engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman, his father lost his leg in a tractor accident, resulting in Frank coming home to manage the ranch. In 1962, he purchased the adjoining ranch to the north that had been homesteaded in 1895 by his grandfather, A.M. Grosfield. Franklin moved to the ranch headquarters on Swamp Creek at this time. In 1971, Franklin married Marilyn Welle. Together they raised three children, Janice, Gayle and Jon, who spent much time with him, both on Swamp Creek and at his parents’ place on the Yellowstone River, whose land he also managed. A good ranch just across the Yellowstone River with good hayfields and grassy rangeland was added to the holding, which enabled the cattle herd to be sustained during the drought and grasshopper infestation of the late 1980’s. This land was held for 20 years. Frank received recognition and awards at the NILE cattle show for his line of registered Hereford cattle. He later dispersed that herd and then raised Angus cattle, which are now managed by his son.

Franklin was a member of the Montana Stockgrower’s Association, served as an area director for the Montana Farm Bureau, held the position of president for the Western Environmental Trade Association for a term, and was a founding member of the Sweet Grass Preservation Association, which represented agricultural interests in the legislature during the Montana Stream Access hearings in Helena. He was also on the local conservation district board. Franklin was the first rancher in the state to publicly establish a fee access program on private ranch land for hunting and recreation purposes through Ranches of Montana

Known to many as a quiet, intellectual man with a reserved nature, to his family he was an intense, hardworking man with a good sense of humor and a love of nature, history and politics. Franklin and his family enjoyed many a car trip to Yellowstone Park and beyond, mostly throughout Montana and the western states. His children acquired his love of hiking, fishing, camping, hunting and playing on the ranch. Frank loved a good Norwegian joke, his wife’s piano playing, family dinners and a competitive game of Crazy Mountain pitch. What brightened his day the most, even near the very end, was to see his grandchildren.

Franklin died March 15, due to complications from end-stage Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his daughter, Janice and her husband, Dave Sheets, and son, Trygg; his daughter, Gayle and her husband, Patrick Callinan, and daughter, Aysa; his son, Jon Grosfield, and children, Maya and Garrett. He is preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Mabel Grosfield and his sister, Elizabeth (Bizz) Green. A family memorial will be held at a later date.

Memorial suggestions: The Crazy Mountain Museum (where the Grosfield sheep wagon is on display) or the Old High School Project Fund.

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