The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

John Ellis Layne


January 4, 2017

On Dec. 14, 2016, John Ellis Layne laid down his barber scissors, saddled his horse and rode to the majestic mountain trails in Heaven at the age of 78.

Having spent years cutting the hair of many, plenty with a few nicks and scrapes to prove it, John dispensed his barber's wisdom and stories for over 50 years on fishing, hunting, horses, and marriage.

John began his cowboy journey on Nov. 15, 1938, in Preston, Idaho, and from a young age - together with his partner in crime and younger brother, Darryl - perfected his penchant for mischief, teasing, and practical jokes on his parents, Doris and Garald, and seven other siblings, DeVar, LaDawn, Carolyn, Lawrence, Steven, Cherie and Kristy.

When, as a teenager, he and his family moved to Waterloo, Montana, he knew that he had found his piece of paradise. He only ventured outside the state for any length of time to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the West Canadian Mission and to attend barber school for a year in Salt Lake City.

After finishing barber school, he moved to Bozeman in 1961, hung out his barber's shingle and began clipping hair and chewing the fat with customers at Ken's Barber Shop. In 1986 he partnered with his friend, Del, for a few years to start DJ's Barber Shop. He then ran his own shop cutting hair until 2011, when his kids finally convinced him to retire before he cut someone's ear off.

Anyone who knew John knew that he loved fishing, hunting, camping, four-wheeling, and especially his horses. If he wasn't riding his horse, he was happily working on his latest house remodeling project. He also spent his spare time chasing away would-be suitors of his daughter, Becky, pulling his son, Mike's, Dodge out of the ditch, and keeping an eye out for the shenanigans of his youngest son, Kurt.

His family was later joined by the hard-working, free mechanic son-in-law, Glenn, and the Finnish daughter-in-law, Mila, whom John always tried to impress with the size of Montana steaks.

John was born with stubborn grit that accompanied him throughout his life. When he set his mind to something, it was sure to be done. It was that same stubbornness that kept him on this earth much longer than expected, because of health issues. Those who got to know him were blessed to see the heart of gold under his tough exterior. John cared about people and people felt his love. He was a life-long member and had a conviction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and faith in his Savior.

John Ellis Layne

When John reached his vintage years, he spent time watching his favorite John Wayne movies between catnaps, socializing with friends, and playing cribbage at the Senior Center. He adored and spoiled his six grandchildren: Hunter and Heather Nelson, and Moia, Mitchel, Marco, and Misa Layne; as well as Hunter's wife, Jessica; and one great-grandchild, James. Now that he has departed, we are sure he is keeping an eye on them between his dancing and accordion-playing gigs at the big Elks Club in the sky.

John's life was celebrated December at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bozeman. Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Bozeman Health Foundation Cancer Center at


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