Jackson resident Kirby Williams died Dec. 25. He was 75.
He and Jeanne moved to Jackson in 1949. Jeanne met and married Byron Jenkins in 1951 and began a life on the Jenkins ranch. He grew up with his cousins, Mike Wardell and John Becker, splitting time between the ranch in town and their guest ranch at the Highlands in what would become Grand Teton National Park.
He enjoyed a traditional Wyoming childhood of hunting, fishing, running a muskrat trap line and taking family ski trips. Kirby shared a few summers in Ogden with his father and their new family, including Marilyn and siblings Clint and Jan.
He attended school in Jackson, graduating from Jackson-Wilson High School in 1961. He graduated from Utah State University, leaving with a history degree and what would become lifelong friends. A quarter of law school was completed when he was advised to “get skiing out of his system and then come back.” Never happened.
Kirby returned to Jackson to a career of summers spent guiding fishing, clearing runs at the mountain resort and working as a carpenter. Winters were worked at Jackson Hole Ski Corp., what would become Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, first as a groomer and then 35 years as a ski patroller. Upon retirement in 2003 he became a gentleman rancher and combined his passions of carpentry and fishing to build and restore wooden boats.
Kirby married Susan (Surf) Obenland in 1974. They traveled and adventured the West and the world for 23 years. Daniel Cody was born in 1985, the greatest pride to Kirby. The two guys fished, skied, rode dirt bikes and grew up together. Dan was a good sidekick.
Kirby married Stephanie Stegall in 2001. They built a home together on the ranch and worked in tandem as ranchers, adventurers and parents to many spoiled dogs.
Kirby survived a bout of H1N1 (swine) flu in 2010. It was the start of many hits to his health. He maintained a good attitude, even as his ability to fish and ski was reduced and then replaced with walks on the ranch with his dogs. His lifelong love of birds, starting with his pet sparrow hawk, Rocket, kept him entertained summer and winter and took on more importance in the last few years. He enjoyed all the wildlife that visited the ranch.
Kirby left quickly and with the grace and dignity we had come to expect of him. He will be missed by all those who mourn his loss, but celebrated by those who knew and learned from him. He was a man with a quick smile and concern for all he met.
His longtime goal was to return to earth as a raven, because “they soar with the eagles, they always have enough to eat and they play year round.” Watch for a raven that gives a dip of its wing in salutation. And know he has returned for a quick bit of fun.