December 21, 1921
Bill Shrewsbury was born to Ralph and Nancy Shrewsbury on December 27, 1921 on their family homestead north of Lakeside, Nebraska. Bill had one brother, Burt. After getting out of the service in 1945, Bill met the love of his life, Betty, and they were married in the fall of 1946. They went on to have 2 children of their own, Ginger and Jay, and adopted their niece, Kim.
Bill began getting involved in ranching at a very young age, his father homesteaded at the ranch north of Lakeside and both Bill and his brother Burt were very active in all aspects of the operation. When his father passed away in 1938, Bill took over the ranch with his mother, the only time he ever was not ranching was during World War II where he suited up and fought for his country. While running the ranch with his mother, they had bought some land north of Ellsworth, when the time came to split up the operations, Burt got the homestead and Bill got the ranch north of Ellsworth. Bill and Betty moved to Ellsworth where they raised their herd of Hereford cattle that originated from a 4-H Heifer Bill had gotten as a gift from his parents when he was only 8 years old. He claims he was hooked from then and went on to breed that heifer and built up his herd from there. Bill continued to ranch eventually converting his herd over to angus, after his own children were gone his grandchildren became very interested in the operation. His grandsons Rhett and Justin began helping Bill run the ranch as he got over and Bill turned the operation over to them when he retired from ranching in 2007.
Bill is also very well known for his rodeo legacy. The first rodeo he ever entered was on the 4th of July when he was only 7 years old. He rode a bareback horse and was thrown off right onto his head. He makes sure to note that this was the only time he ever rode bareback, from then on he decided roping was a much wiser choice. Bill was a phenomenal calf roper and team roper. He made many rounds on the local and state circuits and as he got older, became very active in the old timers rodeo circuit as well. Bill team roped with his good friend Don Powles for many years on the state circuit and proceeded to rope with many partners in his years on the old timers circuit. One of Bill’s proudest moments was winning the 1987 Hyannis Old Timers Breakaway roping with a 2.4 second catch on his favorite horse “Buck”. Bill raised “Buck” and always claimed there would never be a mare quite as good as she was. Bill rode “Buck” for the majority of his rodeo career until she got too old and proceeded to reside in the pasture right outside of the house where they would see each other every day until she died. Bill says the love of horses has always ran in the family and tells a story about his own grandfather being a millionaire two different times in the racehorse industry. Bill has gone on to fuel the passion and love for horses and rodeo in his grandchildren and great grandchildren and in his later years he spent many hours at ropings, rodeos and junior rodeos supporting them.
Bill’s list of awards include many gold buckles that come along with numerous rodeo stories and the Ak-Sar-Ben Good Neighbor Aware, which he is particularly proud of. Bill has lived a life that truly defines what it means to be a cowboy and to live the western life. Bill continues to inspire others to do the same, and as his grandchildren and great grandchildren now sport the many gold buckles he won and continue his traditions in rodeo and ranching. It’s safe to say he has left quite the footprint in the Sandhills of Nebraska.