Mr Olaf Thomas Pugrud

  • Born: June 3, 1927
  • Died: July 7, 2017
  • Location: Winnett, Montana

Tribute & Message From The Family

On July 7, Olaf Thomas (Tom) Pugrud, a lifelong member of the Winnett community, peacefully passed away at Morning Star in Billings.

Born June 3, 1927, Tom spent his first years in Midwest, WY where his father Ole worked as a mechanic for an oil company. When he was eight, they moved to Cut Bank, MT. Upon graduation from Cut Bank High School he served in the Navy and was assigned to an LST (Landing Ship Tank), moving cargo around the Pacific during the final days of WWII.

After his service in the Navy he worked as a roughneck in the oil fields and in the course of this work moved to Cat Creek, MT. In 1947, while in Winnett, by chance he met "that little cow girl" who turned out to be the love of his life. On Valentines Day 1948 he married Angelu Tripp, and they started their journey together, which continued for over 60 years until she passed away in June of 2012.

Tom's work in the oil fields took them to jobs in Montana and Wyoming. In the early 1950's, Lu's father, Harry Tripp, had health issues which caused them to decide to move to the ranch at Flatwillow. For a few of the following years, Tom continued to work as a mechanic on a road construction company, while Lu and the kids were at the ranch assisting Harry. Tom and Lu gradually took over the ranching operation and Tom became a full-time rancher.

Tom and Lu were a team in their ranch, sharing in all aspects of the operation. Tom may not have been raised on a ranch, but he was quick to learn the skills needed for the cattle and farming. His mechanical skills were put to good use in keeping worn equipment operating for several extra seasons. Tom was imaginative, and would weld together some innovative modifications for his equipment.

The cattle became the mainstay of their ranching operation, and in the mid-60s they began artificially inseminating the herd, crossbreeding with various breeds. Simmental was the breed they felt proved to be the best cross, and they were charter members of both the Montana and American Simmental Associations. Tom and Lu enjoyed their years of working to improve their herd and selling bulls, along with the numerous friends they gained through their work within the Montana State Simmental Association, where Tom served on the board and as President.

Tom and Lu both appreciated, and were involved in, the Winnett community. They valued education. Tom served on many county boards through the years. He was honored to serve as Petroleum County Commissoner, work he enjoyed because it allowed him to address various issues important to the county.

Tom was a hard worker, and instilled that work ethic in his children, but he also taught them the values of humor, loyalty and integrity. Tom and Lu enjoyed their work, and enjoyed their leisure time with friends and family. For decades, he hosted a weekly poker game, not for anything more than the chance to spend time with his neighbors and friends. In their later years, Tom and Lu spent their winter times in Yuma, AZ, meeting even more friends. Tom never knew a stranger and enjoyed swapping stories with people and learning about their lives.

Regardless of the topic, Tom was mesmerizing when telling a story. There would always be a twinkle in his eyes as he'd weave his tales. His good nature and humor would resonate through the story, much to the entertainment of his audience, be that family, friends, hunters, or his old poker players. He had a couple of colorful phrases we shall all remember as his many hallmarks.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents Olav and Sigrid Pugrud, and his wife Angelu (Lu). Tom is survived by his sons Phil (Lisa) Pugrud and John (Jessica) Pugrud and daughter Sigrid Pugrud; his grandchildren Chris Pugrud, Angie Bell and Scott Pugrud; his great grandchildren Kalea Nyby, Jaida Nyby, Lexyss Bell, Landyn Bell, Orick Pugrud and Zoe Pugrud, in addition to numerous nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be held at 10 AM on July 15 at the Flatwillow Community Hall. In lieu of flowers, please make any contributions to: Petroleum County Ambulance, Winnett, Mt, 59087