Wiley Stephen Micks was born in Berwyn, Illinois, on March 1, 1958 to Donald William Micks and Winifred Whalen Micks, of Elmhurst, Illinois. He loved the outdoors from an early age. He fished and hunted with his father from the time he could walk. He joined the local 4H chapter when he was in high school; his first livestock project was chickens, which he raised in a series of coops he built in the family garage for protection from predators. He won ribbons at county and state fairs over several years, including a grand championship with a massive Buff Cochin rooster named Orange Pekoe. He made his first trip to Montana in the summer of 1972 on a family road trip and fell in love with the land and people.
He majored in animal science at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, between 1976 and 1981. He competed in rodeos from Illinois to Texas to Montana over nearly a decade, riding saddle bronc and bulls. It was said he could ride the hair off anything with hooves. After completing his schooling, he worked for several years doing embryo transfer in cattle in southern Illinois. He was married to Cherie Walker, of Princeton, Illinois (1982—1986). They moved to Billings, Montana, that summer. He worked initially at Henry Weschenfelder’s Yellowstone Feeders in Shepherd, Montana, which had a capacity of 40,000 head, and then oversaw livestock health at the Glenn Nielsen feedlot in Wyoming. Wiley and Cherie moved to Great Falls, Montana, where he worked for several years managing herd health and fertility at Jolly Roger Angus Ranch. In his first entrepreneurial venture as an adult, he opened a veterinary supply company in Great Falls, which he operated for several years. He then signed on as breeding manager at Beartooth Ranch, which sits on the Stillwater River near Columbus, Montana; there he managed the breeding program, including a sophisticated and extensive embryo transfer operation.
In 1988 he began working for Herman Wessel in Ryegate, Montana. Wessel had begun a lamb feedlot and slaughter operation in Golden Valley County prior to 1987, but depressed meat and wool prices nearly ended the venture as soon as it began. Wessel hired Wiley to develop a branch of the business that would improve cash flow and save the business by developing products from animal blood that could be sold for medical applications.
Wiley began by bleeding horses for a known antibody product that could be used to treat foals for failure of passive transfer of immunity. He then taught himself how to bleed sheep, goats, and eventually, steers. He hired microbiologist Jody Laramee and together they developed the systems and procedures to create sterile blood and serum products.
Quad Five grew and prospered. In 2004 Wiley bought the land and the remaining shares of the company from the Wessel family. Since then, he has continued to build the blood business, with a list of U.S. and international clients from across Europe, India, Australia, and East and Southeast Asia, and the ranching operation. By 2010, Wiley was able to pursue his first passion of breeding Angus cattle, building a reputable herd of mother cows with excellent genetics. For many years he drove across his land in the afternoons, looking at the grass, crops, and livestock and refining plans and projects.
He fulfilled another lifetime goal in 1993 when he traveled to Africa for a game safari with Chipimbi Safaris in Zimbabwe, which left him with many rich memories and a lifetime of stories. He hunted deer, elk, and bear over many decades in Montana and was an accomplished bow hunter and rifleman.
He inherited a love of reading, especially Western history, from his father; he also developed a deep knowledge of Native American history, artifacts, and culture.
Wiley is survived by his sisters Maureen Miller (Washington, D.C.), Kathleen Micks (Youngstown, Ohio), Theresa Slowik (Kenneth; Washington, D.C.), and Alyce Vaughn (Elmhurst, Illinois); by nephews Rodney Miller (Angela; Kansas City, Missouri), Andrew Miller (Andrea; Algonquin, Illinois), Jeffrey Miller (Susan; Wilmington, North Carolina), and niece Catherine Slowik (New Haven, Connecticut); and great nieces Caitlin and Grace Miller (Algonquin, Illinois) and Zoë and Ainslie Jane Miller (Kansas City, Missouri).
His beloved Quad family includes the current staff: Matthew McAndrews, operations manager; Candy Mitchell, office manager; Lori Davis, lab manager; Drew Galahan, accountant; Humberto Juica, ranch manager; Ramiro Rivera, livestock supervisor; Chris Jarvis, shipping coordinator; Sage Toole, accounting assistant; Amanda Brum and Nicole Swift, lab technicians; Mackenzie Serrano, lab intern; and Cesar Rivera, José Huarcaya, Eric Sarmiento, Freddy Jimenez, Joseph Hale, Monty Miller, and Carlos Lopez, ranch hands. There are innumerable people who have been essential to building Quad Five’s business and reputation, including Alfonso Chaparro, Doris Gillespie, Dan Johnson, Jody Laramee, Lynn Lewis, and Jerry Wright.
Roger Huebner of Eide Bailley in Billings has been an adviser and confidant on strategy and financial matters for more than 25 years. J. R. Tonjum has served as Quad Five’s QA/QC consultant for many years.
Wiley found great friends in Montana. Some were his peers and compatriots as outdoorsmen, horsemen, and hunters and others shared his love of history or enjoyed debating and discussing the wide range of interests he pursued. Just a few of those include Sterling and Pam Zeier, Brand Nelson, Cliff and Debbie Schenk, Steve Stoican, Tim and Kris Todd, and Jeff and Kelcy Ruggles.
Wiley was an active member of his community. He supported the local school, 4H, the FFA, the fire department, and many other institutions and did business with local ranches and companies.
A funeral mass will be celebrated on August 13, 2022, at St. Mathias Catholic Church in Ryegate at 11 a.m.; a memorial service will be held at Ryegate School at 12 p.m. Lunch will be served immediately following. Quad Five and the family will host a reception at Slayton Mercantile in Lavina at 3:00 p.m.