With the utmost sorrow, I am devastated to announce the passing of my father, James (Jim) William Sautner, The Buffalo Whisperer, owner of World Famous Bailey D. Buffalo, World’s Largest Indoor Pet. With his daughter Lisa by his side, Jim peacefully transitioned to spend his first day in heaven at 11:40am on Jan 9, 2022. Jim would have turned 75 the next day.
Jim was a one-of-a-kind man who became larger than life when he spent time with his pet Bison, Bailey D. Buffalo. With straightforward and consistent teaching he succeeded in training not one, but two pet bison who both took over international media attention and acquired many accolades during their time together. Jim and Bailey’s uniqueness were accredited in multiple media sources inclusive of: People, People Amazing Pets, Animal Planet’s Fatal Attraction, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, National Geographic, Kids National Geographic News, TIME Magazine, Owl Kids Magazine, Canadian Press National News, Edmonton and Calgary ‘s CBC, CTV Television , American television host, comedian and writer, Jay Leno, Edmonton Journal, Global News, A-Channel News, CFRN, CTV News, The Spruce Grove Examiner, St. Albert Gazette and Stony Plain Reporter Newspaper, birthday dinner and cake at the Westin Hotel with Alberta’s Premier Ralph Klein and the presence of Honorable Mark Norris, Minister of Economic Development in 2004, a photo shoot opportunity with then Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin and many more news resources from all over the world. The dynamic duo also made a 2005 guest appearance in Churchill Square with the Queen of England and Prince Philip, adding “Royalty” to their portfolio. Their journey spiraled into multiple requests for presentations at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in Elk Island National Park, as well as appearing inside West Edmonton Mall, Canada Day parades all over the province of Alberta which highlighted him on the front page of The Sherwood Park News in 2009. There were Heritage Day Festivals, Syncrude Canada appearances, Edmonton’s Farm Fair and the many years at the Calgary Stampede to mention only a few. Lest we not forget CNN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade enjoying the clip she broadcasted.
In 1947, a true cowboy was born on a farm in Kindersley, Sask. to Mary Magdalena and Philip Sautner. Third in line of Sautner children were older brother Richard (Kathy), older sister Lorraine (Ron), and little brother Edward (Tina) Sautner. Together they raised horses, farmed land and lived a true cowboy life. The Sautner family had an article written about them in the 1984 publication of “Little Town in the Valley” by Flaxcombe History Book Committee.
Leaving the homestead was the first step in the countless amount of world journeys for Jim throughout his lifetime. His adult life started when he moved to Medicine Hat, AB where he met Norma Henderson and her four children. He married Norma on August 26, 1971 (divorced 1986). Employed as a Rig Manager for Thomson Drilling he was given the opportunity to work overseas, which settled the pair in Elston, England. Jim travelled the world and saw many cultural places including Dubai, India, Norway, Bulgaria, Malta, Libya, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Bangkok and France. Norma and Jim welcomed their first and only child together, Lisa Marie, in 1976. As the 1980’s rolled in, the family relocated back to Alberta settling into Edmonton where Jim pursued his career in the Nisku Oilfield Patch. He enjoyed his time building rigs and maintaining rig sites with Kenting Drilling before he ventured off into many other personal endeavors.
Jim eventually went off to marry Linda (and her one daughter) Menzel (Lamb) – in 1987 (separated 2013, Divorced 2019). His new life path included the purchase of a big black semi truck proudly displaying his name in gold lettering on the side of the door. He was all set up to long haul trailer loads of goods to the United States and back again. He took his daughter on various road trips and taught her many things including the words to his favourite song “Take It Easy” by The Eagles. Not to mention that he also taught her that “Smokey the Bear ” was indeed…not a bear at all.
He rekindled his passion for horses and started to acquire an array of Arabian’s while living in Calgary and then later in Cochrane, AB. With yearly participation in the annual Calgary Stampede Parade, he and his beloved Arabian, Drifter, were scouted out for bigger adventures. The pair had been invited to participate on the movie set of The 13th Warrior, a 1999 American historical fiction action film directed by John McTiernan. Drifter outdid himself in his performance when he presented as Antonio Banderas’ lead horse throughout the movie.
When Jim found yet another new passion with 300 head of Bison in Crossfield, AB., he was ultimately led to humbly caring for a baby bison calf who was orphaned out in the pasture. From that moment forth, the love and knowledge Jim had of animals was the catapult into creating a dynamic duo team of “World Famous Bailey D. Buffalo and Jim Sautner, the Buffalo Whisperer”. The story of the one-of-a-kind duo made headlines in news outlets all over the world claiming Bailey as the World’s Largest Indoor Pet. You can see the pair in worldwide books, magazines, various articles, as well as taking a visit to your own social media account to see them in all of their glory. Bailey had the most amazing experience when he appeared in Executive Producer Steven Spielberg’s 2005 Dreamworks TV Mini Series “Into the West” (which is still available for streaming).
Spruce Grove, Alberta became home to Jim and Bailey where they would later reside just off of Highway 44 and the Yellowhead Trail. Travellers would often spot Jim and Bailey taking a sunny afternoon ride in the Bailey Mobile, a custom fitted Parisienne convertible built and reinforced solely for Bailey to enjoy. And as the story goes, the rest is history with well documented ventures of their life together that can be found in multiple resources around the world.
In Jim’s final year of his life, he was surrounded by the love and care of his daughter Lisa. He was also able to spend precious time with his 4 grandsons Lamar, Darian, Carson and Cullen; as well as time with family via videoconference and phone. Cremation has taken place and Jim will be resting in his daughter’s home in Sherwood Park, AB., Canada.”Sadly missed with treasured, unmeasurable memories forever, we love you dad, papa, grandpa Jim.”
On behalf of my Father and his Estate, I would like to thank the World Class Cardiology team at the Mazankowski Heart Institute – you were more than I could have asked for to take care of my daddy. Thank you to the University of Alberta Orthopedic Unit and all of the nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, Chaplains for praying with us, and extra thank you’s to the surgeons for quickly repairing the broken hearts and parts. Thank you to the endlessly caring team at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the Hardisty Care Centre staff with an additional thankfulness for Elise and her patience and hard work. We weren’t easy, I know. Dr. Don Korzenowski of Millwoods Family Clinic for piloting my father’s health and picking up the phone at all hours to provide emotional support. Postmedia, and Global News and Corus Entertainment for loving dad’s uniqueness enough to share his story and bring him so much joy. Design Toscano Inc. for your moving sculpture of Bailey D. Buffalo, it holds a special place in my heart. Rodger Higgs for the continuous support and care of my daddy, the entire Higgs family for unconditional love when unconditional love was not given to them. For the Cooper family who were thrown into my parenting role while I spent the last few days of my father’s life with him, you gave love and support on the turn of a dime. My friends, supporters, neighbours, our Wolverine’s football family and fill-in sisters and brothers, thank you so much for your help. Thank you to Peter and the Serenity Funeral Home in Edmonton. Peter you took care of my father with a lot of compassion. Finally Feehan Law for their exceptional work.
For sharing condolences or sending photos please email Lisa: [email protected] or donations
may be made to: www.gofundme.com/share/s/share-family-friends/jim-sautner-bailey-d-buffalo-official-memorial
Please send up a prayer for my father and bless his amazing soul.
Published on February 11, 2022
Serenity Funeral Service
North Central Chapel