LOVELL, Wyoming (SmallTownPapers) -- If any area in the country could boast that it experienced the ways of the True West, it would be the Big Horn Basin. During the late 19th and perhaps a little more than one-third of the 20th century, strong men and women settled here. They lived by sheer grit and determination and raised their families to be able to do the same. They were the true pioneers and cowboys of the now legendary Wild West.

On Aug. 6, 2009, one of the last of these cowboys, Andrew William Gifford, left his home for good and passed on to his new one. His passing marked the end of an era that will never return.

Born in 1921, Andy and his growing up family as well as his immediate family lived in Crystal Creek during the same period that the Tillett boys grew up in the Crooked Creek area. Andy became known for running and breaking wild horses, and time and time again proved he could ride anything he climbed up on. He basically lived, breathed and loved horses and made a living selling and rodeoing with them. He was a unique man, loved and looked up to by numerous family members, friends and business associates

The funeral and memorial service held at Haskell Mortuary Thursday, Aug. 13, was as unique as he was. His casket was a pine box with three stirrups along the length of each side, contributed by Andy's children. It had elk horns atop it, later intermingled with beautiful flowers.

The music was absolutely wonderful and was sung by people who truly loved Andy. Each speaker had somehow had his own life touched by Andy and his wife, Lillian. The main speaker was Kurt McNabb, who kept all in attendance mesmerized by telling the story of Andy's life. By the time he finished, anyone who hadn't truly known Andy would have felt like he had.

After the service ended, the pallbearers carried Andy's casket out and loaded it onto a wagon pulled by two mules. Following it was a second mule-drawn wagon, onto which various family members climbed. Following that was a long line of horses ridden by other family members and friends. When everyone was ready, the wagons and horseback riders led a long procession of cars. When they reached the corner of Main Street and the old highway, police held up traffic long enough to enable the procession to go by. All along the route, people came out of their homes to watch the novelty of wagons and horses going by. Once at the cemetery, Andy was finally laid to rest.

Many who attended said they felt it was an honor to have been a part of the tribute to Andy, and privileged to have witnessed the end of an era.

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