For those of you who don’t know where Ben McDowell came from, have you ever been to Ekalaka, MT? It is nowhere near there.
Ben sauntered into this world on May 23, 1961 with a unique sense of humor and a heart of gold. He has met many people along his journey, bringing them together to form his family. Ben attended school in Sacramento, CA, where he graduated in 1979. He then went on to receive his Diesel Engines degree from UTI in 1980. The moment he finished, he headed straight to Plentywood, MT to join his friends in the oil field.
In 1984, Ben met Peggy Fjelstad. They married in 1985 and soon welcomed their boys Brady Jon and Bryan Joseph. Ben loved his boys and everything they were involved in. When Ben got involved, he was all in! In 1986, Ben started McDowell’s Carpet Cleaning in Plentywood and joined the RestorX family in 1988. Ben was very proud of all the work he had done and all of the places he worked with his CAT team. Ben was a restoration specialist and if he didn’t have the answer you needed, he always “knew a guy.”
In 1992, Ben and Peggy moved to Sidney and put their boys in hockey; Ben instantly became the king of the microphone at the games. He loved running the penalty box, enforcing the rule that allowed him to hand out his own penalties to players, and giving his opinion on any penalty given to a Richland Ranger. Ben could often be heard saying, “I talked to him, he says he didn’t do it. And I believe him.” When the boys got motorcyles, Ben decided it was time to build a motocross track. He quickly learned everything he could about racing, going so far as to become a mechanic for Team Green Factory Kawasaki, working for Ryan Villopoto.
Ben enjoyed hunting with his boys and never missed an opening day of pheasant season with them and his dogs. He taught them everything he knew and then some. Though Ben had a rough exterior, he still let his soft side show. From the little things he saved and held onto, to the pictures he took when no one even knew. His family always waited to see what photos made the fridge and more importantly, which ones he enlarged and hung in his hall of fame. Every gift Ben gave had a purpose and a story behind it, often with a little note attached. He loved to watch the reaction of the recipient. Ben would do anything for his family and never hesitated to let them know that he was there for them. The bonds he built with his friends were unwaivering. He and Kim Fike Leland were very close, never forgetting to comfort one another every December 13th. Yet, we all know, Ben was always up for a good prank. Even though he didn’t like to admit it, he even laughed when they were pulled on him. He could often be heard quoting lines to his favorite movies, even if you had no clue what they were. Ben will be remembered for all the things he has done for each and every person he met.
Ben always had a love for horses. In the beginning, his only plan was to build a wall with a door in it. That way his horse could stick his head through, and he could feed it oats all day. Luckily, Park and Rayna convinced him that was not a feasible plan. Then Brady decided to buy a horse. This was all it took for Ben, he traded in his Harley for wranglers and a vest. He was hooked and began to build lifelong friendships all over the United States. Ben proudly supported many kids in rodeo throughout the years. In 2008, McKenzy Averett entered the picture, and he finally found his favorite rodeo partner/laborer. Though he did everything in his power to get rid of her, she hung out and proved to him that she was in it for the long haul. Ben took McKenzy, and eventually her sister Avery, to every rodeo possible, but only after they picked up their cheetohs first.
Ben’s world was complete with the birth of his grandkids. There was nothing he was more proud of. Ben loved spending time with all of them on the land and did not know how to use the word no. He spoiled them every chance he got, making sure they had everything they desired, including delivering their first guns to the hospital the day they were born.
Ben’s journey on this earth ended on Thursday, September 10th, 2020 at his home in Sidney, MT. He is survived by his sons Brady (Avis) McDowell and Bryan (McKenzie) McDowell; his grandkids Kennet and Lane McDowell, and Bennett and Bexley McDowell; his sidekick Josie, and his large family of friends.
“While the last goodbye is the hardest one to say, this is where the cowboy rides away.”
In leiu of flowers, donations can be made to the Richland Rangers Alumni Association, the Richland County Rodeo Club, or Ronald McDonald House.
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