Shyla Jean McKee

Shyla Jean McKee

June 5, 1956- May 31, 2022

Shyla Jean McKee passed away Tuesday, May 31, 2022 on her beautiful place on Powell Mesa with family at her side after a courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Shyla Jean (Wayt) McKee, 65, of Hotchkiss, Colorado, was born in Denver to Frank Wayt and Edna Erma Jean (Simon) Wayt. Shyla was later joined by a sister, Amy Joanne, and the young family lived in Golden, Colorado, soon moving to a small ranch south of Broomfield. The family later moved south of Longmont, Colorado, where the girls grew up and both graduated from Centaurus High School.

Being born into the Simons from Limon--a family of rodeo stars and champions-- would set the course for the young girls from day one. Grandfather Doc Simon and his brother, Jig Simon, married sisters Iva and Edna. As the Simon clan grew, they traveled the West. Trading horses and mules, all the while competing in rodeos along the way was their livelihood in the 1930s.  Finally settling around Newhall, California, the brothers worked on early Western movie sets as stunt doubles and driving teams. During this time, Doc Simon sailed to Hawaii with Andy Jaurigi to produce a rodeo there. By 1939 the winds of war were stirring, and the Simon families wanted to move inland. Limon, Colorado, was where they landed. Doc and Jig bought adjoining ranches and soon a rodeo arena was built.

Shyla's mother, Erma Jean, and her double cousins made up a trick riding and roping act while Doc and Jig would judge or time. Uncles Milton, Doug and Toy were top timed-event cowboys (Milton competed in the first two NFR rodeos). Shyla's father, Frank Wayt, rode bulls and broncs before and after his service in Korea. After marrying Erma Jean, he also bulldogged and team roped, a pastime he enjoyed and passed on to his daughters. So the die was cast.

Most weekends, the family traveled to Limon for practice with family and friends or rodeos to compete. Even early on, Shyla and Amy were tough competitors, winning buckles and saddles in every event, in both Little Britches and the GRA (later the WPRA). Shyla held the world record for goat tail tying at the Little Britches Finals. Shyla and Amy were accomplished team ropers on both ends and were sought after to compete in mixed ropings for many years. Amy started a rodeo photography company and Shyla helped her sister at events around the country.

For years Shyla was an accomplished photographer shooting weddings and landscapes and entering fairs and shows. In 1976 Shyla was crowned the Boulder County Fair and Rodeo Queen and was a top barrel racer in the region. At a Memorial Day roping that year at Troy Lindsey's Quarter Horse Inn, a cowboy named Bill McKee finally got around to asking her on a date. She told him, "you've been saying that for three years, but you're always leaving town." He replied, "how about tonight?"

They were inseparable from then on.  At numerous rodeos Bill slept on the ground while Shyla and family slept in comfort in their rodeo rig. One Saturday, Shyla and her family went to a rodeo in Walden, CO. Bill showed up on Sunday to ride bulls and bareback. Shyla's father Frank allowed Bill to drive Shyla home. On the way home that day, June 11, 1976, Bill asked Shyla to marry him.

Bill and Shyla were married September 25, 1976 at St. John's Church in Longmont and took a two month honeymoon visiting family and friends in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Bill and Shyla had two children, Jayme Marie McKee Sewell, born February 25,1978, now living in Carbondale and Jason William McKee, born August 6, 1980, now living in Eckert. They made their home in the Longmont area and spent most evenings riding and roping with grandparents, family and friends. Travel usually involved fishing and hunting, rodeo, visiting a family ranch or branding.

Shyla was a hard worker, a great cook and decorated their home in what she and Bill called tasteful American cowboy clutter. From babysitting and sorting vegetables at Tanaka's Market to doing wedding photography, she helped pay the bills while growing a successful excavating business on the Front Range  with Bill. Later on, Shyla became a real estate agent and then broker and enjoyed that profession for 20 years. She was working (slowly, she admitted) with Doug Sigg, her beloved boss and mentor until a few days before her passing.

Shyla was a good hand and will be missed by many. We will miss her sorting cattle and giving riding and roping lessons to her dearest treasures. NaNa as the four grandkids would call her, were something special. Rio Sewell, 12, and his sister Stella McKee Sewell, 9, had a few more years and lessons with NaNa than their younger cousins, Archer William McKee, 2 1/2 and his sister Wyatt Lynn McKee, 7 months old (but Archer drags a rope around quite a bit, so who knows, maybe it's in their genes).

Shyla is survived by her loving husband Bill and two children, Jayme Sewell (Jason) of Carbondale Colorado, and Jason McKee(Chelsea) of Eckert, Colorado; four grandchildren Rio and Stella Sewell of Carbondale and Archer and Wyatt McKee of Eckert; sister Amy Gallager (John) of Bennett, Colorado, and her children, Frank and Teresa Jean; and sisters-in-law, Jane and Judy. Shyla had numerous cousins, aunts and uncles who were very close throughout her life, too numerous to list, but you are loved by us all. Shyla leaves behind so many dear friends in rodeo and real estate and you know who you are as well. Doug and Vicki, Susan and Judd, Brian and Jill, Deb, Donna and so many more, you all played a part in her life.

Shyla was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Jean Wayt.

The family wants to acknowledge the loving care provided by HopeWest Hospice and Rick Bennett, RN, as well as Sally Zimmerman, both dear souls. Sally, we will miss our Taco Tuesdays.

In lieu of gifts, the family suggests that you make a donation to Hope West

Hospice, Grand Junction, Colorado. No services are planned at this time.