Surrounded by her husband who was the absolute love of her life, her children, grandchildren, close family and friends, while held tightly in the arms of her baby bear, Judy Pownall was called to Heaven by the Good Lord on Friday, May 08, 2020 after a short and very unexpected battle with cancer.
Judy Pownall was born February 18, 1948, in Flaxton, North Dakota to John and Eunice Mattson. From the ages of two to 16, Judy lived with a very special aunt and uncle to her, Auntie and Albert Redman, along with her childhood best friend, Shep, her German Shepard. At the age of 16, Judy returned to her family home in Kenmare where she was well known for being a “wild child.” She graduated High School in 1966 and continued her education going to trade school for data processing.
Judy was a loving mother of four children. One son, Troy (1969), and three daughters, Tanya (1977), Brandy (1980), and Stacy (1983). She was a very loving, dedicated, doting, playful, and protective Mama Bear. Her children and their wellbeing and safety was always Judy’s top priority, even after her children grew up, they were always her “Baby Bears.”
In 1993, Judy and her daughters moved to Gillette, Wyoming to start a new life where Judy could be close to her big sister, Marge. Upon settling in Gillette, Judy took a bartending job at the American Legion Post 42 where she became a member and remained a member until the day of her passing. Judy also worked hard to obtain her real estate license and became an agent for ERA Boardwalk.
While working at the Legion, Judy met the love of her life, her soulmate, and forever partner, Bryan Pownall (aka: Mr. P and Lil’ Darlin’). They dated for 16 years to “make sure they could live together” before marrying at The Lodge in Deadwood on February 18, 2010; in the presence of her kids and sister, Marge. Judy would often joke that neither her nor her Lil’ Darlin would be able to forget their anniversary being as it was her birthday, too.
In 1994, a special man, Mike Willis, who would later become Judy’s son-in-law, came into her life when he started dating Judy’s oldest daughter, Tanya. Mike immediately became like a son to Judy, so much so that Judy would pretend to be his mom and excused him from school in Tanya and Mike’s high school years. As adults, Tanya often accused her mom of loving Mike more than her since she often sided with and agreed with Mike in their little spats, be it serious or fun. In 2010, Tanya and Mike blessed Judy with a grandson, Xavier Willis, who Judy loved and adored. Prior to Xavier’s birth, Judy had been blessed with her first two grandsons, Alex Knight and Hunter Harlow, from her second daughter, Brandy Kay Nix, who passed away in 2004. Following the loss of Brandy, Judy did all she could to keep in close contact with the boys and enjoyed and cherished every moment she got to share with them. She was a very proud grandma when she was told Alex would be joining the military following his high school graduation, and she bragged about it constantly with pride.
Judy’s youngest daughter, Stacy, blessed her with thee beautiful granddaughters, Destiny, Mercy, and Libby, between 2003 and 2006. Judy often made sure to remind Stacy what a pain in the butt she and her sisters, especially her and Brandy, had been when they were kids and got lots of laughs and giggles when her granddaughters got into mischief, reminding Stacy she could not get too mad as they were just acting like their mother had to her.
In 2007, Stacy brought a special man, Bobby Koester, into their family, and he became just like a son to Judy immediately, and in 2008 he officially became Judy’s son-in-law. Just like Tanya with Mike, Stacy often wondered if Judy loved her son-in-law more than her.
Judy gained three more grandsons when she and her first-born child, Troy, rebuilt their relationship. Though she did not get much time to know them, she was proud to call Thomas, Trever, and Tyler Sandersfeld her grandsons and in her final days her face lit up to have them by her side. She was very happy to have her son, Troy, in her life and was very proud of the man he had become.
Through Judy’s union with Bryan, she gained three stepsons, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom she loved and treated as if they were her very own from day one. In 1996, Bryan bought out the Bears Den in Rozet, Wyoming for him and Judy to build a business together as Judy had always wanted to own a bar. Bryan, Judy, and the youngest two daughters relocated to Rozet, and Judy fell in love with the country life. The bar ran as a country style bar until 1999 when it was reestablished into an exotic dance club for adult entertainment. For many years, Judy became a second mother, a friend, and a confidant for many of the girls she employed. Though her patience was often tested, anyone who worked for Judy knew that she had their backs and they could always count on her to be by their side, even in the worst of times.
Judy enjoyed the time spent with family and friends, and to her, her friends were her family. She loved unconditionally and without question or judgement. She strongly believed that life was too short to hold grudges or be angry over things you could not change or control. She was a protector, a very loving woman, and a personal cheerleader for anyone who needed it. She loved life. Judy left a positive and radiant impact on the world and every person she met, even if only for a moment. Her husband, children, grandchildren, and close family and friends never had to wonder if Judy loved them, they always knew. Judy will be so very missed by her family, friends, and all other people whose lives she impacted. Her family is very grateful and thankful for every moment and memory they got to share with her until her last breath.
Judy is survived by the love of her life, Bryan Pownall; two daughters, Tanya (Mike) Willis, Stacy (Bobby) Koester; one son, Troy Sandersfeld; three stepsons, Jack (Keri) Pownall, Paul Pownall, Brett Pownall; three sisters, Marge Rudland, Candy (Dave) Jensen, Cheryl (Doug) Sandersfeld; three granddaughters, Destiny Nix, Mercy Nix/Cline, Libby Nix; six grandsons, Alex Knight, Hunter Harlow, Xavier Willis, Thomas, Trever, and Tyler Sandersfeld; god-daughter, Koni (Doug) Aho; special non-biological children, Yvette Schissler, Rya Brandenburg, Janae Holiday; special friends, Diane Ryan, Linda Lake, Bobbi Jo Mattson, and numerous other grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Judy is preceded in death by her darling daughter, Brandy Kay Nix; brother, Jack Mattson; special aunt and uncle, Auntie and Albert Redman; mother and father, John and Eunice Mattson; mother and father in-law, Jack and Ruth Pownall; and her two special canine companions, Shep and Ming.
Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. Fifth St., Gillette, WY 82716. Condolences may also be expressed at www.gillettememorialchapel.com.
Visitation for Judy will be held Wednesday, May 13, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Gillette Memorial Chapel. Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.