William “Billy” E. Taylor
July 16, 1924-February 19, 2001
He was born one of a set of twins on a ranch near Whitman, NE on July 16, 1924. As a young man Billy rode saddle broncs in rodeos around Nebraska. He was always willing to help other cowboys learn the sport. He worked on several cattle ranches where he showed inexperienced hands the ropes of ranching. During this time he started shoeing horses around the area and continued to do so until shortly before his death. On April 28, 1945 Billy married Carol Simonson of Mullen, NE. During WWII Billy kept his family’s ranch running. At this time he lived with his parents, his wife, his three sisters, whose husbands were overseas, and several young nieces and nephews.
Billy and Carol had three children, Carolyn, Diane, and Willie. He taught his kids how to ride and break horses and hauled them all over the state to 4-H events and high school rodeos. He and Carol often took friends and neighbor’s children with them to these events when their parents could not. His son, Willie, won many 4-H events at the state level on a horse, Pistol, that he helped beak and train.
After his daughter, Diane, passed away in a car accident he and Carol took in and helped raise her three young children. They soon found themselves traveling across the state again to more rodeos and horse shows. He taught these grandkids the horse business by having them buy, train and sell their show horses every two years. His grandson, Shawn, eventually reached his goal of taking a horse to the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma. Billy was always very proud of his children and grandchildren’s accomplishments and always encouraged them to pursue their dreams and goals.
As more grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along, he taught us how to handle and ride horses. A trip to Grandpa Taylor’s always meant two things, getting to ride his old gray mare, Molly, and helping with morning chores. My favorite memory with him was a trip to Las Vegas to watch the NFR. This gave me my dream of barrel racing there one day, a dream that I am still chasing today.
Billy Taylor was the example of the Sandhills Cowboy. He passed on horsemanship and a strong work ethic to not only his family, but to strangers that became friends. His dedication to his family shown brightest in times of hardship. On February 19, 2001, Billy passed away with his boot son, as any true cowboy should. As his casket was shut for the last time, we were asked what we would like done with his cowboy hat. We left it with him. A cowboy was who he was and who he taught others to be.