Betty Jo Nicholson & Marie Pyeatt Named 2017 CattleWomen of the Year

The Arizona State Cowbelles, in the year of our 70th Anniversary, have honored two distinguished women as CattleWomen of the Year.


Marie Pyeatt and Betty Jo Nicholson with their awards.


Betty Jo Nicholson

A 4th generation rancher mentoring her family’s 5th, 6th, and 7th generations, Betty Jo has owned and lived on several ranches in Arizona and Montana, and has been a livestock producer for over 80 years. She is currently raising Black Angus cattle at Kansas Settlement in Cochise County, operating the Allaire Ranch which was homesteaded by her great-grandparents in 1885. She has devoted her life to the beef industry and community service.  

A 3rd generation Willcox Cowbelle & 4th generation rancher, Betty Jo has been actively involved leading Cowbelles activities for the past 71 years. Her passion for the cattle industry and her family and friends are demonstrated daily.  

Not just a ranch owner, Betty Jo is involved from the local to the national level in organizations supporting this industry. To summarize her cattle industry involvement within the state just this year: 2nd Vice President of Willcox Cowbelles; Chief Advisor to the Willcox Cowbelles President; Past-President of Willcox Cowbelles and Arizona State Cowbelles (2007-2008); AND Courtesy Chairperson, Membership Chair, Hostess Group Organizer, and assistant Historian for Willcox Cowbelles. In past years, one of her capstone achievements was to serve on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands Policy Committee for five years. From the board room to the sale barn, Betty Jo can be found making friends, recruiting members, selling tickets, passing a plate, or getting donations. In every case, she is hard to catch and is always leading the way.

Her devotion to ranching, the beef industry and agriculture in general came naturally. Both sets of grandparents homesteaded in Arizona. The Flying X ranch is in Sunset Valley, 38 miles northwest of Willcox at the eastern foot of the Galiuro Mountains. The Allaire Ranch is in the heart of the Sulphur Springs Valley where Betty Jo raises cattle currently. Her grade school education started in Bonita. She graduated from High School in Willcox, then attended the University of Arizona and became a teacher.  Betty Jo has two Master’s Degrees. The first was in Elementary Education and the second in Counseling and Psychology.  She also received Superintendent Certification before retiring to the good life--returning to ranching full time. Her father and grandfather were founding members of the American Quarter Horse Association. Her mother and grandmother were founding members of the Willcox Cowbelles. Plus, Betty Jo’s mother was a founding member of the Arizona State Cowbelles.

Born into a life she loves, her dedication to beef promotion and education, preservation of history, and the fact she’s never met a stranger have combined to ensure the voice of the Arizona cattle industry is heard wherever she may be. It is with great pleasure the Arizona State Cowbelles recognize and celebrate her lifetime commitment and contributions!

Marie Pyeatt

Marie Pyeatt lives on the multi-generation Pyeatt Ranch (homestead) in Elgin, Arizona. Prior to coming to Elgin, Marie was a Home Economics school teacher from 1967-1974. She also taught computer classes at Cochise College from 1987-2012.

Marie later joined the U.S. Army, where she was in active duty from 1974-1981, and Reserves from 1981-1987, retiring as a Major. She is proud that she was the first female Company Commander for the 11th Signal Brigade.

Marie has been involved in Cowbelles in a big way. She is very active at the local, state and national organizations. She has been the Chairperson of just about every committee and officer over the years to include Arizona State Cowbelle President from 2008-2009, and bless her heart, she has been elected again to be the ASC President Elect for 2017-2018. She currently is the ASC Membership Chair and is on the American National CattleWomen, Inc. (ANCW) Foundation, and was the ANCW Communications Committee Chair from 2011-2014.

Other organizations that Marie has been involved with include: Southwestern Pioneer Cowboy Association Secretary/Treasurer from 1993-present, President of the Historic Pioneer Black Oak Cemetery, The US Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee from 2012-present, the U S Forest Service Road Realignment Committee in 2013, FSA Committee Member 2012-present, just to name a few.

If you need a volunteer and a hard worker, Marie is the go-to person. One program that Marie initiated was serving beef to returning soldiers that were returning to the U.S. This was a very successful program and one that was appreciated by our many soldiers.

Congratulations, Marie!


Past Arizona State CattleWomen of the Year:

2016   Janice Bryson, Buckeye
2015   Keri Jelks, Canelo Hills
2014    Mary Jo Rideout, Red Rock
2013   Vicki Wilkinson, Chino Valley
2012   Lou Apperson, Sonoita
2011   Dorothy Steinhoff, Laveen
2010   Velma Tucker, Roosevelt
2009   Linda Brake, Elgin
2008   Linda Vensel, Patagonia
2007   Kathy Moore, Congress
2006   Daisy Mae Cannon, Duncan
2005   Doris French, Glendale
2004   Posy Piper, Patagonia
2003   Phyllis Gates, Mayer
2002   Lois Claridge, Safford
2001   Dorothy Johnson, Gilbert
2000   Ann Jeffers, Holbrook
1999   Peggy Monzingo, Benson