Jackson Hole natives have unique connections to their hometown. Most reflect with happiness on the memories made here. It is so disheartening when kids who were born and raised in Jackson Hole cannot find a way to have a future here. It is also sad when long-timers can no longer afford to live here. They leave the place they have loved and called home. Here are some stories from former residents.
Peggy Walker Jensen: I was born in Jackson in 1936 and graduated from Jackson-Wilson High School in 1954. I left Jackson in 2006 and moved to Illinois to live with my daughter. The lower altitude was better for my husband’s health.
Patricia Bartholomew: My husband, Tom, graduated in 1964. We left in 2012 due to the cost of living prohibiting us from remaining in Jackson.
Chris McCain Miller: I graduated from Jackson-Wilson High School in 1965 and the next year went to Idaho State in Pocatello. I came back during the summer months to work for my dad, Mann McCain, at the Jenny Lake boat dock. I married Brent Miller and lived outside Blackfoot, Idaho. We moved back to Jackson for 20 years. I now live in Idaho Falls. Jackson will always be my home.
Craig Redfield: I’m a member of the Jackson-Wilson High School, class of 1971. I worked construction for the town of Jackson for 23 years. I retired in 2015 and moved to Mesquite, Nevada. Jackson was growing too fast. I was also tired of plowing and shoveling snow.
Lin Hazen: I graduated from Jackson-Wilson High School in 1973 and went to college. I wanted some city life. Now I want to move back but can’t afford those property prices.
Don Lowder: I’m a member of the class of 1977. I live in Truckee, California. I was fortunate enough to buy my parents’ home when my dad passed in 2004, and I hope to return to Jackson when I retire. The place has changed a lot for sure, but I still tear up when I drive into the valley. It’s still the best place on the planet to me.
Jonathan Abrams: I graduated in 1985 and joined the Air Force. I’m retired from active duty and now work for the Air Force as a civilian. I miss living in Jackson,. I always love going back to visit. I really miss the mountains.
Lynda Lucas: I graduated in 1973 and left Jackson in 1994. I live in the Houston area. Inheritance tax and politics kept me from coming back.
Michelle Cook: I’m a member of the class of 1977. I went to the University of Wyoming, then moved back to Jackson for about 10 years. I ultimately left for multiple reasons: the soaring cost of living and just needing a fresh start. I’ve been away now for 30 years but dream of living in the valley again. My husband and I bought land near Tetonia, and with luck we’ll live there one day. Jackson will always be home to me, no matter how long I’m away.
Debra Kay Rudd Barnard: I’m a member of the class of 1979. I wanted to return, but the Jackson economy was just too high. My parents, Cornell and Joyce Rudd, have since passed away. I loved the Jackson that was. Average people can’t make it there. My husband said we can live there and be too poor to enjoy it, or set up a dental practice somewhere else and afford to visit. I will always be proud of my roots. I grew up with great people in a great place.
Laurinda Cook Fuller: I’m a member of the class of 1981. I left for college at Iowa State and then went on to California because living in the city was where life was going to happen. My young thinking was really off base. Now I can’t wait to get back to Jackson, where my heart and soul are at home.
Jody Weston McCoy: I’m a member of the class of ‘83. I still work in Jackson but moved to Alpine about 20 years ago. I won’t move back. I sure don’t like what has happened to our carefree hometown.
Arlene Rudd: I graduated from Jackson Hole High School in 1984. I left in 2013 because Jackson was growing into something I didn’t want to see and stay for. I won’t be living there again.
Stacy Budge Saunders: I am fifth generation born and raised in Jackson, graduating with the class of 1996. After college I moved back and then landed in Bondurant with my husband at a family-run ranch. I commuted to Jackson for 12 years working for one company. It felt like we had the best of both worlds living between the communities we both loved. Each had so much to offer our family. COVID-19 caused capacity issues in Jackson for us to be confident the school system would continue to take our boys, so we have made the switch. We still have businesses that we run in Teton County, lots of friends and family and a history to cherish. After 20 plus years I am ready to finally trade in my nostalgic and low 22 license plates. My husband will be proud.
Yvonna Watsabaugh: I graduated in 1998, and my husband, Justin, graduated in 1988. We may have to leave Jackson due to losing our rental house.
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