Bill Ellard, owner, with his wife, Jo Ellard,  of EE Ranches, Pilot Point, TX, and EE Stallion Station, Whitesboro, TX, passed away on March 16, following a long battle with cancer.

EE Ranches is well known to the Quarter Horse  industry as the home Cat Ichi, cutting’s leading freshman sire of 2009, and as the home of Cat Ichi’s dam, Laney Doc, the sport’s #3 all-time leading dam.

As a National Cutting Horse Association non-pro competitor and founder and long-time director of the National Youth Cutting Horse Association, Jo Ellard is more familiar to cutters than Bill, whose passion was Hereford cattle.

“Bill’s love was cattle and the horses are my love,” Jo told me not long ago. “It’s made a really good partnership.”

This past February, Bill and Jo Ellard were selected as Honorees of the 2010 Fort Worth Stock Show Open Hereford Show

An Arkansas native, Bill founded Dallas-based National Teacher Associates Life Insurance. He and Jo, a former head nurse of the intensive care and coronary care units at a major Southeastern trauma hospital, met at a medical conference. They were married for more than 35 years.

In 1982, the Ellards purchased a ranch near Jo’s hometown of Winona, MS, and established a nationally recognized cow herd and show string. In 1984, they bought their first cutting horse and had three more, including Laney Doc, when they established the Pilot Point Ranch in 1986.

When they outgrew the Pilot Point facility, Bill and Jo built EE Ranches Stallion Station, breeding home to 13 leading cutting stallions, including Cat Ichi.

“It wasn’t our long-term goal to have a stallion station,” said Jo. “But it developed that way. Bill didn’t have any idea what he was getting into, but he really enjoy(ed) it.”

The Ellards are the parents of two sons, Brian and Chad, and two granddaughters, Brinson and Campbell. Brian was recently named president of National Teacher Associates, Inc. and Chad is currently finishing the final leg of a solo around-the-world sailing expedition.

Funeral arrangements for Bill Ellard have been made for Saturday, March 20 at 10:30 a.m., at Lee Funeral Home, 334 Summit St., Winona, MS (662-283-4515), with visitation the evening before from 5:00 – 7:00.

There will be a memorial service in Dallas on Sunday, March 28 at the Bent Tree Country Club, 5201 Westgrove Dr., Dallas, TX (972-931-7326), at 2:00 p.m. There will be a reception following the memorial service.

Memorial contacts: Compassionate Hands Hospice; Mississippi Animal Rescue League; Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter; American Jr Hereford Association at 816-842-3757; and NYCHA Youth Scholarship Cutting, c/o NCHA, 260 Bailey Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76107.