Eugene Fremont Pyle, Jr., known to most as “Jinx,” crossed the Great Divide on Monday, April 1, 2019, at his home in Star Valley, Arizona, at the age of 74.
Jinx is survived by his wife, Jayne Peace Pyle, a stepson, Shawn Haught (Summer) and four grand-children: Hunter (Jackie) Haught of Peoria, Hannah (Spencer) Myler of Orem, Utah, and Lily and Grayson Haught of Gilbert, AZ. Rachael Snow is the mother of Hunter and Hannah. Summer Ford is the mother of Lily and Grayson. Jinx is also survived by nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins throughout Arizona, especially in Gila County. Jinx was preceded in death by his father, Eugene Fremont Pyle in 1988, and his moth-er, Dorothy Lovelady Pyle, in 2010.
Jinx was born December 14, 1944, in Tempe, Arizona.
His family left “big tracks” in Central Arizona. Four generations of Pyles — Elwood, Floyd, Gene and Malcolm, and Jinx — hunt-ed the Rim Country for lion and bear to protect their cattle that ranged from Starr Valley to East Clear Creek, north of the Mogollon Rim.
As a boy, Jinx hunted and cowboyed with the best, then made his living with cattle and horses in much the same way as his great-grandfathers.
Born of the West, his lineage reaches back through generations of Arizona lion and bear hunters, guides, packers, prospectors, and cowboys.
Jinx Pyle was also a talented guitar player, singer, song writer, and an author of twelve books of the West. His knowledge of life was gained from the back of a horse and most of what he knew, he learned from old-time Arizona Cowboys.
From his mother’s lineage, he is a grandson of Walter & Belle Lovelady. Walter was an early con-stable in Payson; Belle was Payson’s first tele-phone operator. Jinx is a great-grandson of Jim and Eunice Lovelady. Jim was a wagon boss of the famed Matador Ranch in Texas and after his move to Arizona, he became the first elect-ed Constable of Payson, AZ. Jinx is a great-grandson of Fred and Josie Russell. Fred, “Tuff” as he was called, was a deputy sheriff at Roosevelt during the building of the Dam. Jinx is a second-great-grandson of Florence and Sarah Packard. Florence Packard was a legendary lion hunter and mountain man of the Tonto Basin. He made his home in the Greenback Valley. Jinx was a third-great-grandson of David and Obedience Harer who were among the first settlers of the Tonto Basin in 1874. Jinx was the seventh generation of his maternal line to live in the Tonto Basin.
From his father’s lineage, Jinx is a grandson of Floyd and Verda Pyle. Floyd was a cattle rancher and hunter of bear and lion, plus he was a guide for Zane Grey in the Rim Country. The Pyle family still has the rifle Zane Grey gave to Floyd as a gift. Floyd bought a place that would be called the Myrtle Ranch on Ellison Creek under the Mogollon Rim when he was nineteen years old and there raised his family — two sons, Gene and Malcolm, and two daughters, Myrtle and Louise. Cattle there were branded “KS.”
Later, Jinx’s dad, Gene Pyle, and his Uncle Malcolm Pyle, bought the Myrtle Ranch from their dad, the Cross V Ranch in Star Valley from Al Vaughn, and the big meadow in the center of Payson. They held all this jointly, then finally Gene took the Myrtle Ranch and Malcolm took the Cross Vees. So Jinx grew up on the Myrtle Ranch and the R Bar C Ranch under the Rim, and during the winters often stayed on the Cross Vees in Star Valley. His family also owned a house in Payson.
Jinx attended school in Payson, starting his early years with Doc Dimbat, Don & Ron Gibson, Errol Owens, Duke Haley, and others he knew throughout his life.
Jinx was taught the U.S. Constitution by his father all during his growing up years. He loved his country, his flag, and his freedom.
Jinx served in the U.S. Navy as an air-traffic con-troller on the aircraft carrier, USS Boxer, during the Vietnam War, from 1965 to 1967. After his stint in the Navy, Jinx returned to the Myrtle Ranch where he and his parents ranched until 1986.
Before he went into the Navy and for twenty years after, Jinx had a country/western band and played at many of Payson area’s hot spots. His cousin, Nora Pyle Sossamon, and friend, Angela Taylor Godac, played music with him for years. Plus, he played with child-hood friends, Don and Ron Gibson, and many other area musicians.
Jinx and his dad sold the Myrtle Ranch and bought the old Fox Farm in Payson, in 1983, where they raised Longhorn cattle and brand-ed “LH.” They also had a bed and breakfast, a riding stable, and an arena where they held ropings.
In 1986, Jinx and his parents moved to Yoncalla, Oregon. Jinx wanted to expand his cattle operation, so bought 3600 acres that he called the Pantera Ranch and continued raising Longhorn cattle. He ran 350 head and branded the “panther scratch.” He was active in the ranching community and served as President of the Oregon Texas Longhorn Association.
Although he was busy ranching, he took time for his music. He had a band and played in country hot spots. Oregon is where Jinx wrote ten original cowboy songs for his CD titled “Rawhide Ranahan.” He was always grateful to the Booher family who accompanied him. On this CD, he sings the songs that tell the history and culture of the West.
Both his dad, Gene Pyle, and his grandmother, Belle Lovelady, died in Oregon, so Jinx and his mother moved back to the southwest. Jinx bought the Canyon Creek Ranch in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico and there ranched until wolves drove him out. Next he bought the Saliz Creek Ranch, near Reserve, New Mexico.
In 2004, after nearly 60 years of making his living with cattle and horses, Jinx and his lifelong friend, Jayne Peace, daughter of Calvin and Anna Mae Peace, founded Git A Rope Publishing and as Jinx put it, “I went from a rider to a writer.” The two began writing books of the Southwest and speaking about their books around Arizona and New Mexico. Jinx took his guitar and sang his songs. Soon Jayne joined in.
When the two realized there was something more between them than friendship and business, they got married on January 23, 2004, in Payson, Arizona by Justice Ronnie McDaniel.
In July 2004, Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer proclaimed Jinx and Jayne to be the Town of Payson Historians. They were off to a good start and continued writing until they had written over 20 books and published more than 50 for other authors. They also owned Git A Rope Trading Company and had several stores in Payson. They travelled around the state speaking on the history they had written and Jinx played music and sang his western songs. Jayne joined in. Fifteen years later, they have continued as the Town of Payson Historians.
In 2014, Jinx and Jayne bought part of the old Cross Vee headquarters in Star Valley where they could have animals, an orchard and a big garden.
They continued to write and enjoyed their married life together there until Jinx’s death. They were married 15 happy years.
Jinx lived a life enfolded always in humor and often in adventure. He knew firsthand of what he wrote and captured the history, logic, guts, tragedy, and humor of the Pyle Family and other cowboys and hunters who rode the Mountain Country. He was a true Son of the West.
This is not to leave the impression that Jinx’s writings were limited to cowboy stories of his own family.
His book, “Looking Through the Smoke,” was accepted as evidence by the United States House of Representatives Resource Committee on Forest Health in 2002.
When Arizona’s Official State Historian, Marshall Trimble, was asked what his five favorite Arizona history books were, he first named the “Pleasant Valley War” by Jinx Pyle. This made Jinx feel his book had achieved its goal.
Jinx was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and Jayne attended church at the Christopher Creek Branch where Jinx served as High Priest Group Leader from 2014 to 2018, then as Elders Quorum President from April 2018 to January 2019. Jinx also served as Payson Stake Historical Clerk for eight years — and he and Jayne together served as Payson Stake Historians. They wrote the Payson Stake History Book which gives a detailed history of the Payson Stake and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northern Arizona.
Jinx served as President of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, President of the Arizona Heritage Research Foundation, and he and Jayne together were awarded the 2005 Arizona CultureKeeper Award. Jinx also performed each year at the CultureKeeper Awards Dinner in Scottsdale. Jinx trick-roped with world-famous trick rider and roper, Nancy Sheppard, he danced with Linda Ronstadt, and played guitars with Michael Ronstadt.
Jinx genuinely liked people and always took time to tell them a story. This endeared him to many. He answered the call when he heard someone needed help. He loved his wife, all of his family, his friends, his country, and his Savior, Jesus Christ.
Memorial Services for Jinx Pyle will be held Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m., at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Payson.