Independent Notes: Remembering Conn Astle
I think it’s important we don’t forget those who have given to our Star Valley communities and Conn Astle is one we should remember for his years of service with the Afton Fire Department and the Star Valley area.
It was fitting to have Conn inducted into the Wyoming Fire Fighters Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 21 and it was impressive to see the support from the Afton Fire Department and Astle family at the Wyoming Fire Academy.
Conn stepped up to serve in the community decades earlier, first joining the Afton Fire Department in 1959. His tribute, read at the Hall of Fame event in Riverton, noted, “During his tenure he held every job possible in the department, Assistant Chief, Secretary, and was elected as Afton Fire Chief several times for a total of sixteen years. First, from 1967-1971, then 1979-1983, and lastly from 1987-1995. He also had the privilege of serving as the State of Wyoming Volunteer Fire Chief for one year.”
The Afton Fire Department was in Riverton to honor their former fire chief and show support for the Astle Family. Afton Fire Chief Dennis McDonald, along with Afton Firefighters Bob Thomas, Andy Sessions and Kade Hebdon joined the program.
At the conclusion, Chief McDonald recalled, “The dedication that man has shown to the town, to the district and to Star Valley in general was unbelievable and unmatched. It’s an honor to be here and to honor him. Anybody that knew him was his friend.”
I felt like his friend as I got to Conn over the years working of fire department stories for the Star Valley Independent in the 1980s and 1990s. During that time, I also watched him quietly take care of community service, maintaining the ice-skating rink in Afton.
In those days I would often leave my home in the early morning hours to go the Star Valley Independent office in what is now Dr. Voss’ optometry office on Fourth Ave. We lived just down the street from the Astles on Adams Ave and my travels would take me past the Astle home and the town park. It wasn’t a surprise to find Conn out on a crisp winter morning putting a fine mist of cold water across the pond, using those pre-dawn hours to build up the town’s ice-skating rick. We had plenty of winter to go around and Conn was making sure the pond was in great shape for the kids and some of their parents. Kids always knew they could find a pair of extra skates at the Astle home across from the rink if they needed them. Conn and Betty were just that way, very community minded.
As time goes I hope we can find some more Conn Astles in the coming generations, the kind that simply give back to this great place we call home, Star Valley.