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"He was a man well worth knowing" - Montana cowboy, former lawma - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

"He was a man well worth knowing" - Montana cowboy, former lawmaker Paul Ringling dies at age 97

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Paul Ringling (Photo courtesy Ringling family and Stevenson Wilke Funeral Homes) Paul Ringling (Photo courtesy Ringling family and Stevenson Wilke Funeral Homes)

MILES CITY - Well-known Montana cowboy and former state lawmaker Paul Ringling has died at age 97.

Ringling, whose parents were part owners of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus, grew up in White Sulphur Springs. He died on March 7 in Miles City.

According to an obituary published by Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home, Ringling grew up on the family ranch and worked for the circus as a young man. He married Althea Shearer in 1940. They were married for 65 years. She died in 2005.

In 1942 Ringling was drafted to serve in World War II. 

The obituary states: 

Paul was first in North Africa with a signal corps and then in Italy, working as a high speed radio operator in a counter intelligence unit with the Air Corps. Although he had two battle stars, he spent most of his time in the service detecting the Morse Code used by German Luftwaffle. Paul shared his experience with his children, “When I identified German communication, I then communicated with the code cracker, who deciphered the message. It was true team play between radio operators and code crackers. Everything we did was stamped top to bottom Top Secret.” He returned stateside in 1945.

When he returned from the war, Ringling studied agriculture at Montana State and worked at the family sheep and cattle ranch. 

Ringling served in the Montana House during the 1953 and 1955 sessions, and in the state Senate in 1957 and 1959. He was also a founding member of the Montana Quarter Horse Association and the Montana Cattleman's Association.

Montana author Lee Rostad wrote a book, Three Ringlings in Montana: Circus Trains to Cattle Ranches, about the Ringling family.

"Paul was a class act. I enjoyed renewing acquaintances with him on the two occasions when I gave the Memorial Day talk at White Sulphur. He was a man well worth knowing," retired Montana broadcaster Vic Miller wrote on the Stevenson Wilke Funeral Homes memorial page.

He is survived by his children and three grandsons. 

Visitation will be held on Thursday, March 15, with the family receiving friends from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City, according to the obituary. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, at Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home in White Sulphur Springs. Interment will follow in the Mayn Cemetery.

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