In the early morning hours of January 28, Weiser, Idaho said goodbye to one of its last true cowboys. Jon Lee Wray crossed the final frontier following a long battle with heart and kidney disease.
Adopted by Jerry and Kathryn Wray upon his birth, Jon grew up to become Weiser’s best ambassador. He loved the small town he had called home his entire life; always living within an 8-mile radius of the little hospital on Commercial Street where he was born.
Jon often told stories about his childhood: the East Side/West Side rivalries, sneaking out of school and going to the market to buy Milk Nickels (Eskimo Pies), and the times Bing Crosby came to Weiser to hunt with his dad. As an adult, he loved to drive around town with family and friends telling the stories from his youth to give the best hysterical (not historical) tours of Weiser. You knew it was going to be a great story when it started with “Old Lady So and So lived there and . . . “.
After graduating from Weiser High School, Jon proudly completed a stint in the Idaho Air Guard and then went on to build a lifelong career as a man of the land: farming and ranching – a true cowboy. He learned roping, branding, and herding in the hills of Brownlee and on the Weiser Cove working for the Thorson and Kirk families. Jon then spent over 20 years feeding and rearing cattle and farming for the Raney Brothers at the Bar 11 Ranch. The last 30 years of his life, he was proud to continue working the land on the Ulmer Farm surrounding his home.
Family was very important to Jon. He and his late wife Jacque were married over 50 years and raised two sons, Chris and Jonathan. He taught his boys the important lessons of life: how to be a good friend, the importance of hard work and doing your best, pride in your home, and the value of a sincere “Thank You.”
Jon treasured his friends and collected them wherever he went. Whether he was hunting in the primitive lands of Northern Idaho, sitting in a boat with his buddies on Brownlee Reservoir or hosting a driveway bonfire and picnic, Jon often said he was the richest man in town to have so many people in his life. Well known for its hospitality, a visit to his “Doghouse” was one of the most coveted invitations in town where there was always a spot for new friends at the table.
One of those rare individuals who was truly happy with his life and who enjoyed every day, Jon once said that he only needed four things: his family, his friends, a good meal, and a good dog. Over the course of his 83 years, he enjoyed all four although he refused to confess which one was top of the list!
Jon is survived by his two sons Chris and Jonathan, their wives Heather and Darra, 5 grandchildren Emily, Amanda, Hayden, Mason, and Maggie, and a lifelong collection of friends.
A celebration of life is being planned for the spring. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to Weiser High School’s We Care Program which funds participation in school activities for students in need.
Happy trails Jon Lee, happy trails to you.