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As longtime cowboss at the White Horse Ranch near Fields, Britt Lay made an impression on many local residents and aspiring buckaroos during his 71 years before his passing last December. At his request, no services were held, but a celebration of life is planned for July 26 in Denio, Nev. There will be a potluck at 1 p.m. at the Denio Community Hall, and an engraved bench will be placed at the Denio Cemetery in memory of Britt.
Britton “Britt” Lay was born Sept. 9, 1942, in Elizabeth, N.J. After leaving home at age 12, his adventures began. He started hitchhiking and hopping trains headed West, doing odd jobs and meeting all sorts of folks. He returned back home at times until he joined the U.S. Army at age 17. After boot camp, he was stationed in England, and then Germany, where he drove truck clearing wreckage in East Germany. He was later shipped across the globe where he did tours in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
After his tour was over, he returned home in 1961, and married his first wife, Sandy. After a short-lived marriage, they divorced and he married Diane. They had a son, Tommy. Britt then took to the deserts of Nevada, Montana and Wyoming to learn the cowboy ways. He worked many ranches, camps, feed lots and sale yards doing all sorts of jobs from buckarooing to hauling cattle. He and Diane separated in 1971.
Britt met Alice, whom he married in 1972, and had two sons with, Winston and Wilson. He was with her till the day he died. The family lived and worked at various ranches until moving to the White Horse Ranch in 1982, where Britt was the manager for 24 years. Many buckaroos in this area worked for Lay and tell stories about how much he taught them.
After leaving the White Horse, Britt and Alice moved to Missouri, where he enjoyed being part of hot rod car clubs. After seven years, they moved to Phoenix, Ariz. to be closer to family.
Britt is survived by his wife, Alice Lay; sons, Winston Lay and wife Gloria and their sons Erik and Joseph; Wilson Lay and his wife Terra and their son Gage Wall; sister, Elizabeth Lay of Phoenix, Ariz.; and brother, Richard Lay of Albuquerque, N.M.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and F.T. Britton Lay.