Thomas E. Connelley – "The Beef Man"
Thomas E. Connelley, age 63 of Belle Fourche, died suddenly on Monday, June 15, 2009, at the Spearfish Regional Hospital.
The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at the Christian Life Center in Belle Fourche with Rev. Paul Howard officiating. Visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Funeral Home of the Northern Hills in Belle Fourche. Inurnment will take place in Pine Slope Cemetery, Belle Fourche.
Thomas Edward Connelley was born February 24, 1946 in a little old house near Hugo, Colorado. He was the second son of John and Virginia (Elliot) Connelley. Tom grew up on his father’s ranch southwest of Wild Horse, CO. He spent his youngest years interested in cattle and riding horses. One of his fondest memories was going to horse sales with his dad. When he was 9 years old, Uncle Bill Connelley gave him a colt and he named him Bimbo. That was his first horse.
Tom’s first seven years of grade school were spent at Aroya, CO. Later he graduated from high school in Kit Carson, CO. During high school, he was involved in all the seasonal sports including rodeo. As a senior he was proud to have won the Colorado State Bulldogging High School Championship. It was one of his biggest thrills in life.
Tom knew at an early age that he wanted to be a cattle buyer and his opportunity to learn the business came when he was 24. By that time he was married to Peggy Turner and had two children, Dawn Marie and Tom Jr.. Tom went to work for American Beef Packers. When he was 25, Peggy passed away and his mother helped him take care of the children until he remarried five years later.
In 1976 he started buying cattle at Foxley Cattle Company. In 1979 when Foxley sold their packing plant, Tom became an independent order buyer, buying all classes of cattle. In 1983 he had the opportunity to lease the Eagle Rock Ranch near Cheyenne, WY. This ranch was very special to Tom. In 1988 he left the ranch and moved to Billings, MT and he bought cattle in that area until 1991 when he moved to Belle Fourche. On May 20, 1995 he was married to Dorothy Hemmingson in Belle Fourche, where they have lived since.
In 2003 Tom started a beef business, buying beef and selling it processed to his many retail customers. Tom became well known as “The Beef Man” during these years. Tom also enjoyed cooking and he cooked and catered meals to many brandings, rodeos, weddings, and special events. Tom loved doing that very much, and it was during a branding event like this when he suffered a severe heart attack at a ranch in Montana. Tom died while doing what he loved to do. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Tom is survived by his wife Dorothy of Belle Fourche; son, Thomas (Christina) Connelley of East Rochester, OH; step-son, Rob (Donna) Ireland of Watertown, SD; daughter, Jennifer Sargent of Loveland, CO; step-daughters, Barb (Brad) Gartner of Interior, SD, RaVonne (Keith) Lukonen of Watertown, SD; brother, Jim (Janet) Connelley; five grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Dawn Marie Woltersdorf; and grandson, Tim Sargent.