Hereford America


The Largest Privately Owned Hereford Newspaper in North America

Wayne Brillhart

We bid farewell to Wayne on Friday, February 9th, 2024, one week after his 82nd birthday, at St Vincent Hospital due to complications from surgery.

Wayne was born February 2, 1942, in Orrville, Ohio to Ross and Irene Clapper Brillhart.

Wayne was the middle child of six children. In 1946 at the age of four, his family moved to Montana to the Three Mile area of the Bitterroot Valley. A couple of years later his dad purchased a ranch a Lolo, MT, where he spent the next twenty years. He attended Lolo grade school, graduated from Missoula County High and then on to Northern Montana College in Havre, MT. He graduated in Farm and Ranch Management. This is where he met his wife Shirlee Cure, they were married in 1963. They celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2023.

While growing up on the Lolo Ranch, Wayne was active in rodeo, wrestling, 4-H and FFA, showing Hereford cattle at the Missoula County Fair. His love for Hereford cattle started at a very young age.

After finishing college, Wayne and Shirlee worked the Barbour’s on the Monture Hereford Ranch Ovando, MT and another rancher who had ranches in the Bitterroot Valley and North Dakota. Wayne was responsible for getting the bulls ready for the Top Cut Sale in Missoula. At that time the “Top Cut” Sale was the largest Hereford Sale between Denver and Calgary – selling over 500 head of Hereford bulls. It was during this period that their two sons were born, whom he named Winston and Bentley.

In 1968, Wayne and Shirlee, sons Winston and Ben, his brother Charles and his parents purchased a ranch at Musselshell, MT. It became known as the Brillhart Ranch Co.

The registered Hereford cattle herd was started by Wayne’s dad, Ross, in the mid 1950’s with some cows he bought in a dispersion sale at the Missoula Stockyards. His dad also purchased the first herd bull from Fred and Olive Porch of the Three Mile Hereford Ranch. (Beau Donald breeding) Wayne and older brother Charles then purchased another herd bull from Mario and Mary Feronato, who were prominent Hereford breeders in the Bitterroot Valley. Females were also purchased from Wayne B. Hill, Edminston Land and Cattle and semi-load of cows from Oliver Shipp of Glasgow, Mt.

In 1990, Jim Brown, Wayne Waarvick, and Wayne with the assistance from Leo McDonnell Sr. started the Big County Hereford Breeders Sale, held at Midland Bull Test. Due to Wayne’s health issues, we sold the Ranch in 2015 and our last sale was in 2016.

Wayne served as President and Vice President of the Musselshell Valley Stockgrowers. He served on the following Boards – Musselshell Grade School, Roundup High School, Delphia-Melstone Canal Users, Zion Lutheran Church, Mt Hereford Assoc. Beef Leader for Hawk Creek 4-H club, Member of the MT Stockgrowers Assoc. American Hereford Assoc., National Cattlemen’s Association and R-Calf. In 2007, the Montana Hereford Association honored Wayne as Hereford person of the year.

“Now when I am dead and gone and you hang my old worn tack, I want you to remember I never sold my saddle and I never bred’em black.”

Despite Wayne’s health issues, we traveled all the back roads near and far and checked off places on our bucket list since retirement in 2015. He loved to travel since he couldn’t no longer raise his beloved Herefords. Wayne believed in God, family, and Herefords. He had a great sense of humor; he delighted in pulling pranks on family and friends.Wayne was preceded in death by his parents Ross and Irene, brother Charles, and sister Rita.

Wayne is survived by his wife Shirlee; sons Winston (Michele) Brillhart of Luxembourg, Europe and grandson Kai Brillhart of Luxembourg, Bentley Brillhart, Huntley MT; sisters Louella (John) Lokemoen of Jamestown, ND, Maxine Vink, Missoula, MT, Thelma (Jerrome) Cole of Musselshell, MT; 14 nephews and nieces.

Celebration of Life will be held in late spring.