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Independent Obituaries: May 29, 2024

The following obituaries appeared in the May 29, 2024 edition of the Star Valley Independent.

For more area obituaries, please visit Schwab Mortuary.

For more resources including headstones, please visit the Star Valley Historical Society.


Leon Moffat

Leon Moffat

Raymond Leon Moffat was born on October 27, 1948, to Ralph Wearing Moffat and Clara Mace Waddell Moffat in Driggs, Idaho. He died early in the morning Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in Lewisville, Idaho.

He grew up in the Teton Basin and loved to hunt, fish, and do all sorts of outdoorsy things with his lifetime friends. He graduated from Teton High School in 1967. The family moved to Star Valley, Wyoming, shortly after graduation and he was called to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Florida Mission, which covered all of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Puerto Rico. He loved serving and loved the people he came in contact with there.

After returning from his mission, he attended Ricks College and met Peggy Sue Hadley. They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple on July 10, 1970. They had 3 sons. They later divorced. On June 12, 2009, Leon married Alice Erickson in the Logan Temple.

Leon worked at Ricks College for 32 years as director in food services. His favorite part of working there were the relationships he developed with the many students and full-time employees. There are many lifetime friendships from his work.

He served in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was an ordinance worker in the Idaho Falls Temple.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his in-laws; grandparents; and siblings, Dewayne, Doris, and Rayola.

He is survived by his wife, Alice; sons, Brandon, Shawn, and Brian; nineteen grandchildren and great grandchildren; his brother, Warren; and in-laws, Doug, Carol, Roger, Kevin, Rob, Carrie, Kyle, Julie, John, and McKay. He is also survived by many beloved nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at the Lewisville 2nd Ward Chapel, 101 Main Street in Lewisville. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wood Funeral Home East Side, 963 S. Ammon Road, and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. prior at the church. Interment will be in the Fairview Wyoming Cemetery. Celebration of Life will be held in Afton, Wyoming, after the interment. Celebration of Life in Lewisville, Idaho, will be held sometime in the future after the funeral service.

Condolences may be sent to the family at


Gene Davis

Gene Davis

Eugene R Davis was born on September 18, 1945 at the naval hospital on the Farragut Naval Base, which is where his father Nathan was stationed during World War II. The family moved to the small town of Etna, Wyoming, where Gene spent the rest of his childhood. Gene loved growing up in Wyoming, where he spent many hours hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Upon his graduation from Star Valley High School in 1964, Gene spent two years serving a mission in Chicago for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served in the U.S. Army, and spent two years at Ricks University in Idaho. It was at Ricks College where he met his first wife Katherine Smith, who he married in Logan, Utah in 1967. Gene and Kathy were married for 21 years and had seven children together.

In February of 1971, Gene enrolled as a Border Patrol Agent in San Diego, California and entered the 99th training session of the Border Patrol in Los Fresnos, Texas.  He was assigned to his first duty station at Chula Vista, California upon graduation from the U.S. Border Patrol Academy and served there for six years. In 1977 Gene moved to Washington State and transferred departments to become an immigration inspector, then later as a Criminal Investigator based in Seattle.   After a few years, he transferred back to the Border Patrol and was assigned to Bellingham, Washington and later Blaine, Washington. Gene had a distinguished career within the Border Patrol, earning the roles of Patrol Agent in Charge, Assistant Chief, and Deputy Chief Patrol Agent in Charge during his time there.  He was also called to testify before Congress on multiple occasions due to his expertise on border security. Gene retired in January, 2000 after 29 years of service. He loved his time in the Border Patrol and developed a great respect for each of his fellow agents.

Following his retirement from the Border Patrol, Gene spent parts of the next 15 years working around the globe for U.S. Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and government contractors, leading courses on Border Security practices. Some of the notable places he served in that role include Georgia, Pakistan, Albania, Nigeria, and Guatemala.

Gene was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed Kayaking, Hiking, Biking, Camping, etc. He was an avid photographer whose work was displayed and published around Whatcom County. For many years he taught courses on Sea Kayaking. It was at one of these courses he met his 2nd wife Nadine Kaaland, who he married in 2006.

Gene is survived by his wife Nadine; his children Darren, Lori, Kristi, Kari, Tyler, and Kyle; their spouses/partners Jennifer, Rob, Mason, Tyler, Haley; his grandchildren Madison, Caleb, Nate, Emily, Jake, Simon, Janae, Krystin, Andi, Luisa, Antero, Alexander, Christopher, Chelsea, Tristan, Jackson, Sierra, Taya, Ocea, Maya, Briley, Haylie, Asya, Savannah, Kino, Lyra; 3 great grandchildren; his grandniece Laney; his siblings Nathan and Penny, and his sister in law Elorna. He was preceded in death by his parents Nathan and Margaret Davis, and his son Bryant Davis.

A memorial service for Gene Davis will be held at 1 pm PST on Thursday June 27 at the Ferry Terminal in Fairhaven, Washington. In lieu of flowers, the family would ask for donations to be made to the Whatcom Land Trust.


Susan Day

Susan Day

Following a lifelong passion for reading obituaries, Susan Bleyl Day, 78, decided it was time to be in one herself when she passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

Sue, as she was affectionately known among friends and family, was first diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2009 at which time she was told she had 3 to 5 years to live. Although Sue was full of compassion and love for others, she was also full of “I’ll do what I want when I want”, so she did exactly that for fifteen plus years while her diagnosis was forced to take a backseat to more important events.

Among these were two pacific-to-atlantic cross-country roadtrips, serving an 18-month full-time Church mission with her husband, David, in San Diego and a 50th wedding anniversary celebration surrounded by family and friends. There were also numerous trail rides on horseback, camping in the mountains, travel to spend time with grandchildren, and meticulously planning to build the perfect house.

For those who don’t know what a perfect house is, it’s one that has a butler’s pantry.

Sue was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Edith and Adiel Bleyl. At age 10, her family moved to Citrus Heights, California where she grew to embrace a lively social life. She particularly enjoyed her role as a cheerleader at San Juan High School. Sue met her future husband, David Day, while he was serving a full-time mission in the area, and they married in The Salt Lake Temple on November 25, 1964.

In 1976, they moved their growing family to Draper, Utah and started a farm where she worked tirelessly raising crops as well as colts. Sue was also a strong advocate for her children’s academic growth and experiences. She served as PTA President at Draper Elementary and never turned down the chance to help with homework and school projects when asked.

By 1987, she was the mother of seven children to whom she provided unconditional love, a safe home, countless uplifting memories, and a strong example of faithfully following the teachings of Jesus Christ. She did sometimes snoop in their rooms for various contraband, finding the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition on one occasion, but since she also taught us the importance of forgiveness, love and understanding always conquered. Well played, Mom, well played.

While living in Draper, Sue became an avid explorer of the Lone Peak Wilderness area and the Wasatch Mountains through many camping, horseback riding, and hiking trips. Her enthusiasm for the outdoors later expanded into extended treks to the Salt River, Teton, and Windriver ranges in Wyoming. Her attempt to climb the Grand Teton was stopped only a short distance from the top due to ice that made it dangerous to continue.

Sue dedicated much of her life to the service of others through the many callings she held as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some, such as stake Primary President and stake Relief Society President, required a lot of time. Others required a lot of patience. None of them were easy for her but regardless of the calling or the request, Sue truly gave her all when asked to fill a need.

In 2006, Sue and David completed a milestone when their youngest, Rachel, graduated from Alta High School which completed twenty-six years of having children attend there. One year later, construction of their new home was completed and they relocated to Star Valley. Living in Bedford, Wyoming was the realization of a lifelong dream and over time resulted in many friendships that she greatly valued.

Sue frequently rode her favorite horse, Palladin, to explore the trails and vistas offered by Bridger-Teton National Forest as well as many areas in Utah. Some of her favorite outings on horseback were with The Pistol Packing Mamas, a group of like-minded adventurous friends. Age was never a deterrent for Sue when it came to riding a horse. She purchased one just months before her death with every intention of riding it.

Despite growing up in humble circumstances, Sue pushed herself to learn challenging and new things. After completing ground school and the required in-flight hours with an instructor, she flew a Cessna 150 as its sole occupant, taking off and landing at Salt Lake airport no. 2. She also mastered dirt biking and waterskiing and was just as comfortable riding rocky roads in the desert as she was giving her children tips on how to get up on one ski while being pulled behind a boat.

Like all of us, Sue was not without her imperfections. Among them was removing and cleaning dishes the microsecond they were left unattended, thereby creating more dirty dishes when the person returned to get seconds. And despite valiant efforts, she was never successful in asking, “Will you take out the trash?” She always stuck with her much preferred, albeit less effective, “Do you want to take out the trash?” A recent survey in the family revealed that no one ever wanted to take out the trash.

Family and friends were Sue’s greatest treasure. Determining how to spend her time, where to travel, or what activity to do was always done to share experiences with those whom she loved and who enriched her life emotionally and spiritually. At her core, Sue was a people person and prioritized meaningful connections.

In the end, pulmonary fibrosis claimed Sue’s life. But having beat it by more than fifteen years, she is the clear winner in our eyes. She is now with loved ones that she has not seen in a very long time and we know that her joy is overflowing.

We are very grateful to the many doctors and nurses at Lone Peak Hospital, KPC Promise Hospital as well as the home health nurses, therapists and hospice staff that provided expert and compassionate care for Sue while she bravely faced an illness she knew would end her life. Their support along with the prayers and encouragement of friends and family gave her the strength she needed to prepare for the inevitable with grace and wisdom.

Sue is greatly loved and will be sorely missed.

Sue is preceded in death by her parents, Edith and Adiel Bleyl, and a brother, Terry Bleyl. She is survived by her sisters Sandi Cook, Anita Olszowka, and Lisa Shick, and her brother, Jeff Bleyl. She is also survived by her husband, David Day, and children Jennifer Pickett (Kelvin), Michael Day, Matthew Day (Julie), Paul Day (Melanie), Nathan Day (Sarah), Christina Day (David), Rachel Larsen (Adam), twenty-five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. In what one might aptly refer to as bittersweet, Christina is expecting the birth of grandchild number twenty-six on September 24, 2024, which would have been Sue’s 79th birthday.

Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life service beginning at 6:00 PM on Saturday, July 20, 2024 at the pavilion and field directly west of the Draper Corner Canyon Stake Center, 13366 South 1300 East. A meeting for family members will begin at 4:30 PM.

Due to the Draper Days celebration that will be ongoing at that time, traffic is likely to be congested so please allow extra time for travel. Please also note that this event will be outdoors and that, as per Sue’s desire, dress is casual– which is very good because July is a hot month.


Jack Hales

Jack Hales

After battling bladder cancer with courage and grace, John “Jack” Ernest Hales, Jr., 81, of Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming passed away on May 20, 2024 at his beautiful home, with his wife, Susan, and eldest son, Matthew, by his side.

Jack was preceded in death by his father, John Ernest Hales, Sr. (1998), his mother, Aleen Eloise Ray (1990), his younger brother, Richard Alan Hales (2014) and his granddaughter, Maren Nelson Logan (2005).

Jack was born on June 11, 1942, in Long Beach California, to Johnny and Eloise Hales. He and his two younger brothers, Ron and Dick, enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Claremont and Whittier, California.  Their family life was filled with sports, camping, fishing and time spent with a large and close extended family.

At the age of six he experienced a rare snowfall in Claremont California. That was the beginning of his lifelong interest in weather.  Jack went on to receive both a B.S. and an M.S. degree in Meteorology from the University of Utah, where he also met Susan Ann Nelson, the love of his life.  Jack and Susan were married in Salt Lake City, Utah in December 1965.

Jack led a fabulous life full of passion for his family, career, hobbies and helping others. He left an indelible mark for the better on everyone who knew him.

He would be quick to tell you that his proudest accomplishment in life is his family.  Jack was a devoted and loving husband to Susan as well as a kind, wise and hands-on father to Sarah, Matthew, Aaron, Alison and John.  His children knew that as important as they were to him, no one was as important to him as their mom was.  Jack’s and Susan’s complementary personalities and the deep love and mutual admiration they had for each other made for a strong, fun and fulfilling marriage, and an unquestionably eternal bond.

As a father, Jack enjoyed his children at every age and stage and found great joy in raising them.  He was always there for them when they needed advice, a listening ear … or a reality check.  He was deeply proud that all five of his children grew up to be good, kind adults and that each of them possesses the high level of integrity, strong work ethic and desire to help others he modeled for them and hoped to instill.

It is an understatement to say that Jack went above and beyond to be present and active in his children’s lives when they were growing up, whether it was attending their many activities, taking them on extended road trips, coaching their teams, eating lunch with them in the cafeteria, or giving a presentation about weather to their elementary school classes.

Jack was privileged to become a grandfather, otherwise known as “Papa,” to Preston, Eloise, Clara and Maeve.  He could not have loved or enjoyed them more.  When his grandchildren were asked to describe their Papa, they said “respected” “warm” “gentle” and “the best!”  The deep love Jack had for each of them and the innumerable memories they created together, will be carried with them for the rest of their lives.

Any spare moment that wasn’t invested in weather was likely invested in basketball, whether watching or playing. With his unique shooting form, Jack was an almost-unguardable 3-point threat in any game, even in his late 60’s. As a talented young ball player once said at the YMCA, overheard by his son, “When I get old, I want to be just like that cat with the headband.” He set an incredible personal record of 69 consecutive free throws at age 70 but still felt like he “choked” because he didn’t shoot his age. He also loved competing in racquetball throughout much of his life, watching football (Go Chiefs, Sooners, Utes), sometimes watching baseball, and, of course, going fishing. But definitely not golf.

Jack had a particularly strong interest in learning about other people and their stories, whether it was through reading biographies or just talking to random people. If you were out in public with him, it was not surprising to find him in a friendly conversation with someone he had just met. If they had an interest in weather, you knew it was time to get comfortable. He would then eagerly share all the interesting things he had learned about that person.

Other joys in Jack’s life included but were not limited to: great timing (intentional or unintentional), conservative mutual funds, webcams pointed at the sky, the value and reliability of Hondas, every last bit of any steak of any quality, guessing exactly what time you would pull into the garage, and finding or growing things to harvest and sell on his property (Christmas trees, morel mushrooms, tomatoes, gooseberries).

Since witnessing a snowstorm in Southern California as a six-year-old, Jack’s vocation was meteorology. After earning his Master’s of Meteorology at the University of Utah, Jack worked for the National Weather Service(known as the Weather Bureau before 1970) for a short time in Seattle, Washington as an Observer.

His exceptional talent for understanding our atmosphere was noted by the Weather Bureau, and he spent six years forecasting for the entire state of Arizona; during which time Jack fundamentally advanced the science of forecasting thunderstorms for the Southwestern United States Monsoon. His advancements saved countless lives by improving flash flood forecasts.

In 1975, his contributions and forecasting skills earned him the prestigious position as lead forecaster at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City, Missouri (now the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma). Over the next 36 years, until his retirement in 2011, Jack’s influence as lead forecaster of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes advanced the life-saving field into the 21st century through:

– Mentoring and inspiring others, whether from within the National Weather Service or from the dozens of presentations he gave to school kids

– Utilizing new technologies to increase forecast confidence and skill from a single day to eight days at the end of his career

– Introducing the concept of the Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) which the NWS has since adopted to all manner of warnings and watches

– Working shifts at any time  of day or night to issue 5,540 life saving severe thunderstorm and tornado watches (more than twice the number of any other lead forecaster who has ever held the position) while always keeping his cool with decisiveness and confidence

– Earning many awards and medals for his career accomplishments and exceptional forecasts of weather outbreaks

To learn more about Jack’s career, please visit his page on Wikipedia.

Jack was a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Over the years, he was a friend, mentor and leader to many of those he came to know through church, as well as in the communities where he and his family lived.

He served others in countless ways throughout his life.  After he retired to Star Valley, Jack delivered for Meals-on-Wheels, through the Thayne Senior Center, occasionally taking one of his visiting children or grandchildren on his route with him.

Jack is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Susan, his 5 children Sarah, Matthew, Aaron (Heather), Alison (Henry) Heimsoth, and John, as well as by his grandchildren Preston (Mary), Eloise and Clara Hales, and Maeve Heimsoth, and his brother Ron (Kathy) Hales.  Additionally, he leaves behind many adoring nieces and nephews, and their families, who loved and looked up to their Uncle Jack.

Jack’s final resting place will be the Kemmerer Cemetery, in Kemmerer, Wyoming. A celebration of Jack’s life for family and close friends will be held at a later date.

The Hales family would like to extend a special thanks to St. John’s Cancer Care in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and to Symbii Health in Afton, Wyoming for their careful and compassionate care of Jack over the last few years.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the Meals on Wheels program at the Thayne Senior Center by contacting Janan Lindroos (307) 883-2678.


Diane Gardner

Diane Gardner

Diane was born on Saturday, November 5, 1966 at 6:55 p.m.  at the Star Valley LDS Hospital in Afton, Wyoming. She was the 6th child out of nine siblings; five brothers: Rollin, Ronald, whom greeted her in Heaven, Russell, Reynold and Rulon. The best part of her life are her three sisters, Geraldine (Gerrie), Evon and Marcella.

There is not enough time to share what Diane has accomplished. There have been so many discoveries from her friends as they have reached out to share, love and support her and us.

Diane has always been a tomboy. Even though she had many incredible teachers, her favorite were the ones that allowed for her to play any rough and tough sport with the boys at recess! We all know that if it were allowed during her time to play football, she would have been a Wyoming High School All-Star Football player and Wrestler.

She played volleyball in Junior High and was very competitive on the Star Valley Track Team in High School. She graduated from Star Valley High School in 1986.

Her absolute favorite job, other than being a 4th and 5th grade teacher, was working at the Golf Course. She WORKED as Hard as she played and this is true for this part-time or summer job. She LOVED being outdoors.

She attended the University of Wyoming until she went on her Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Quezon City, Philippines. Her mission was initially a Welfare Mission and then turned to Welfare and proselyting. From her journal, pictures and talking with her companions, she was entertainment for the mission. She LOVED learning about the culture and people in the Philippines.

Diane never had much idle time as she was always serving either her family, friends or community She was traveling to Nevada, Oregon, Washington and to the other side of Wyoming or many, many trips to Star Valley to either help or just visit. She was affectionately known as Aunt Di to more than just her own blood nieces and nephews. Additionally, Gramma Di is how her precious great nieces and nephews refer to her.

Diane majored in Elementary Education and graduated from the University of Wyoming. She did her student teaching in Evanston. Upon the completion of her student teaching, she applied for an open position. She was hired and this began her 30 year career with the Uinta County School District #1.

We, the Gardners, cannot express our love to the Uinta County School District. She was so loved by all of you – Administration, teachers, parents, students, etc.

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