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Gene "Bony" Telford

This Ole Cowboy's Life:

Gene (Bony) was born in Pierre, South Dakota on December 5, 1926, to Pearl and Merna Telford and was named after the world's heavyweight champ, Gene Tunney. Considered the runt of the family, and frequently sick as a boy, he spent much of his youth living up to his name and proving not to be underestimated. As a young man, he lived with his sister, Iris, in Seattle trying to get work with Boeing Airlines prior to being drafted into World War II on his 18th birthday. He served in the Army with the 11th Airborne Paratroopers during the occupation of Japan.

Upon returning to Pierre from military service, he met and married Beverly (Jean) Evans in 1949. He worked as a bartender and later as a ranch hand for Stanley Evans, father-in-law and foreman for the Sodak Cattle Company. He was later fired by his mother-in-law, Hazel Evans, for leaving the ranch during a severe snow storm in hopes of getting a better paying job in Greenland. Not deterred, Gene picked up and moved to the Black Hills where he worked for the Homestake Gold Mine. There, he learned the true meaning of "owing your soul to the company store." In fact, he wrote a story about his experiences in the mine that are forever captured in print under glass and frame. He then joined a "Wild Cat" oil rig company under a veil of "government" secrecy and worked across many states in the Midwest. He eventually settled down in CA and became a heavy equipment operator and retired 35 years later at age 65. He also rode bare back broncos on weekends for sport until "she Jean" made him give it up following a serious injury.

After retiring from the Operating Engineers, he moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona, but eventually returned home to California until his death. There's no doubt to anyone that Gene lived his life to the fullest. He worked hard, played hard and loved large.

He leaves behind his loving wife, companion and dance partner of 61 years, Beverly (Jean) of Oakley, Calif.; his son, Kit and wife, Inna, of Citrus Heights, Calif., and daughter, Kelly and husband, Jack, Moore of Novato, Calif.; three grandchildren, (Dee, Sean and Dmitry), five great-grandchildren, (Kayla, Kyle, Anthony, Francesca and a new little one on the way), brother, Merle and wife Melda of Pleasanton, Calif., and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, Kenneth and Thomas; four sisters, Iris, Phyllis, Marie and Arlene; and one grandchild, Tracy.

While Gene lived a full and rich life, his passing has left a significant void in the hearts of all who knew and loved him. His love for life combined with an unwavering positive attitude, sometimes outrageous sense of humor, gift for story telling and ability to give to others unconditionally, will be forever in our memories.