Haydon P. Nye is a prominent local farmer who dies during the winter of 1935. He had quite a history with the Panhandle region during his life, having profited from the land's crops during the war. He's also seen the worst of the land's conditions though, as the drought brought him major profit losses. His wife dies shortly after he does.
Why does Billie Jo care about this guy she barely knew, but who was apparently a local legend? It seems that she's taken by the fact that in his death, he's become a part of the land that made him rich. As she puts it:
They buried Haydon Nye on his land / busted more sod to lay his bones. / Will they sow wheat on his grave / where the buffalo / once grazed? (58.6)
We have to admit we agree with Billie Jo: There's something really cool about thinking about Nye's death this way, as becoming the land he spent his life working. It's the circle of life, yo.