Rudy “Butch” Stanko

Rudy “Butch” Stanko

Rudolph George Stanko, known as Rudy “Butch” Stanko, who always blazed his own trail throughout a legendary life, passed away peacefully on August 2, 2023, surrounded by loved ones at his side. Rudy was born in Sheridan County, Wyoming, on February 16, 1947, the son of Rudy Stanko Sr. and Elizabeth Legerski Stanko; all of his grandparents emigrated from Poland. He was raised a Catholic, served as an altar boy and attended Catholic schools. He graduated in 1965 from Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyoming, and was named Student of the Year in sales.  He then attended University of Wyoming on a full-ride wrestling scholarship. 

Rudy “Butch” was a tough and gritty Cowboy, both in the ring and in business. A light heavyweight wrestler in college and trained as a boxer by his father, he went undefeated in The Toughest Man in Wyoming contest. As a third generation meat packer, “Buffalo Butch” built a meat packing business powerhouse in the 80s with plants in Nebraska, Colorado, and Montana. In 1984, after his businesses were closed, he went to Australia to write his autobiography, “The Score”, which chronicles his experience in the meat packing industry. In 1998, he took to his fiery drive to the court room. Representing himself, he successfully challenged Montana’s no speed limit before the Montana Supreme Court, using his stock car racing trophies as evidence. A fervent defender of Constitutional Rights, he baffled many seasoned lawyers, prosecutors, and jailers as a relentless pro se litigant; his email signature was “Common Law Rudy.” In his later life, at 68 years old, he set an American weight lifting record with a 391lb bench press, and became a champion poker player in Deadwood, S.D. 

Rudy “Butch” was a true original, one of a kind, and he will be remembered best through one of his life mottos: “You’ve got to blaze your own trail.” Through a storybook, colorful, and legendary life –Rudy “Butch” Blazed His Trail through the West with a hard-nosed work-ethic, maverick ingenuity, a sharp eye, and a tenacious entrepreneurial spirit.  He was a Presence in any room he walked into, and he never compromised on doing it His Own Way.  Fiercely driven, Rudy “Butch” always brought out the best in his competition - whether it was the wrestling ring, the race track, the sale barn, the courtroom, or at the poker table. He was an outspoken freedom fighter and creator of jobs for 1000s of workers in need. Most importantly, Rudy “Butch” did all of this while being an incredibly loyal son to his mother Betty and a generous provider to his family. He is survived by his children, Christine Stanko, Cara Dodson, Michael Scott Stanko, Lisa Martin, Cati McQueen; former wife Jean Stanko; and by his 100+ year old mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Stanko. 

A Celebration of Life will be on Saturday, August 12, 2023, at the American Legion Hall in Gordon, with a viewing at 10:30 a.m. and service at 11:30 a.m.

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