Dr. Raymond “Ray” P. Ansotegui’s seven year battle with Alzheimer’s ended peacefully in his
home on Wednesday, March 2, while being lovingly attended by his family.
Born July 11th, 1947 to Ray and Irene Ansotegui on the family ranch bordering Nevada and
Oregon, Ray spent his early years on the family ranch in Paradise Valley, Nevada. He loved
school and couldn’t wait to be a cowboy. As early as ten years old he “went on the wagon” - his
term for the week-long cattle drives where he learned a lot about being a cowboy and cursing.
He embraced the beauty of being horseback without civilization for miles.
His family moved to Fallon, NV when Ray was in high school. He continued to work on the
ranch and excel in school; from kindergarten until he graduated, Ray never missed a day of
school. No stranger to hard work, he spent most of his free time working both the neighbor’s
dairy and at the family lumber yard, yet had time to soup up his truck for drag racing.
Ray was the first in his entire family to attend college. Education became his life’s work and
passion. He graduated from the University of Nevada Reno with a BS in Animal Science and a
Master’s degree in Range Nutrition. He earned his PhD from New Mexico State University in
Ruminant Nutrition and Reproductive Physiology. Ray often referred to himself as just an “Over
In 1972 Ray married his lifetime riding partner and wife, Linda Bilbao. Smitten by the “young
beautiful independent woman who could sit a horse and work cows like no one he’d met
before,” Ray wooed Linda with a pair of hand-made silver spurs. They adventured for 51 years
Ray and Linda moved from Nevada to Livingston, MT in 1975. He worked briefly for American
Breeder’s Service before he accepted a one time, one year position at Montana State University
(for a professor on sabbatical). One year at MSU stretched into thirty-two years as Ray won
numerous teaching awards and led ground breaking research for the university. Ray completed
two sabbaticals; one in New Mexico and one in Western Australia. He encouraged and watched
his students use their education when they returned to family ranches or started their own. He
saw many of his students make a difference as they went on to keep Agriculture alive and well
in Montana and throughout the West. Ray insisted his students drop the formality of Dr.
Ansotegui and call him simply “Ray.” He was never too busy to take their calls, talk them
through their challenges and help with recommendations. Despite his notorious unique
intelligence and a classic grumpy cowboy look, Ray was always approachable and humble.
Ray’s secret sauce as a professor was his keen ability to see things in his students they couldn’t
see in themselves.
In 2006 Ray retired to be a full-time grandpa. He continued his genetic consulting and AI
business with his wife Linda and helped out on his friends’ ranches. Retirement years were full
of fun adventures - freezing in AI camps while laughing with friends and numerous camping
trips to Yellowstone. He and Linda traveled to spend time with their children and grandchildren
around the world (Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire, Italy and Switzerland). He looked the part
of a cowboy no matter where he was in the world. He was kind to a fault, an engaging storyteller
with a biting sense of humor and sarcasm that will always be unmatched.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Irene Ansotegui and brother Dennis. He is
survived by his wife, Linda; brother, Alan Ansotegui; children Denise Ansotegui-Bergeron and
Raymond Ansotegui; their spouses Neil and Amber Jean (whom he loved like his own children);
and his grandchildren, Hayden and Jillian Bergeron - the lights of his life. He is also survived by
numerous brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews - all of whom have plenty of “Uncle
Celebration of Life and Memorial services for Dr. Raymond Ansotegui will be held Friday, April
21st, 11am at the Livingston Christian Center. In lieu of flowers, and to honor Ray’s work in
education, the family set up a scholarship fund through Montana Stockgrowers Association.
Please send donations to Montana Stockgrowers Association, 420 North California Street,
Helena, MT 59601 c/o Ansotegui OEC. Condolences and scholarship donations may also be
sent to Linda Ansotegui at 124 Paradise Drive, Livingston, MT 59047.
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