Joseph I Vanatta, Jr. passed away November 20, 2018 at the age of 88 at his home on Ash Creek. He was born to Joseph I Vanatta, Sr. and Lillian Cook Vanatta in Newcastle, Wyoming on January 5, 1930.

At the age of three the family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming. Joe attended Custer, Central, Coffeen and Taylor schools. In 1941 when World War II started, the family loaded up an old International truck and headed to Spokane, WA, where Joe’s dad was employed by the US Government at the Galena Air Force Base. Joe attended several schools during the war ending up at the John Rogers High School in the 9th Grade.

Joe returned to Wyoming in 1945 and helped a friend move to the Rice Ranch in Lodge Grass, MT, where he worked for John Rice until 1947. Once John Rice had purchased the Wrench Ranch in Sheridan, Joe continued to work for him during the summer until he graduated from Sheridan High School in 1949. He worked at Mulholland Motors from the summer of 1949 to 1950 and then enlisted in the Air Force in September 1950. He was sent overseas to England for two years. While in the military he traveled to many countries, but in 1952 he was shipped back to the States and was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, AZ, until discharged in 1954.

After military service, Joe returned to Sheridan and worked for the VA Hospital as a clerk, checking valuables. He was later transferred to the Bighorn National Forest Service as a voucher clerk and from there went into engineering as an Engineering Technician. Joe married Phyllis Yvonne (Phillips) in Sheridan on March 1, 1956. They had three sons and later divorced. Joe left employment with the Big Horn National Forest Service in 1974.

On December 28, 1974, Joe married Linda (Buszkiewic) in Sheridan. Together they went into the private business sector, first moving to Oregon, but ultimately returning to Sheridan. They eventually started their own business of selling and repairing RV’s. In 1980 they moved to their home on Ash Creek, north of Sheridan. After many successful years, Joe retired in 1997, sold the business, and purchased some farm land near Parkman, WY, where he farmed hay and raised American Paint Horses.

Joe enjoyed being in the Big Horn Mountains; he hunted for elk and stream fished for trout. His other passions included going to auctions and collecting antiques. Joe was an animal lover and in his remaining years, had his faithful companion border collie, Tye, by his side. Joe was a life time member of both the Elks and American Legion.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Linda of 43 years; a sister, Phyllis Iddings of Sheridan; three sons: Joe, III (Sandra) of Phoenix, AZ; Hal of Bay Point, CA and Bret (Catalina) of Tucson, AZ; a niece, Tyra Williamson of Sheridan and three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at 10 am on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, in the Elk’s Memorial Cemetery with Rev. Eloise Saltzgaver, Chaplin. A reception will follow in the Kane Funeral Home Reception Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Hospice of the Big Horns or to the donor’s choice.

To quote Joe, “I have done all the things in my life I wanted to do and had a very good and exciting time”.

Online condolences may be written at

Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.


Sheridan & Johnson County Obituaries