Some of you oldsters may remember this tragic event that took place March 9, 1960.

This story ran in a Facebook post made by Don Ricks.

“District Ranger Gale Wilcox and Park Ranger John Fonda along with Assistant Chief Ranger Stan Spurgeon were on backcountry patrol on cross-country skis in Grand Teton National Park. The three came upon the Snake River, which had frozen over and judged that it was safe to cross.

“Ranger Spurgeon began to cross first, followed by Ranger Wilcox and Ranger Fonda. Ranger Fonda had made it only 15 feet from shore when the ice broke and he fell into the river. Ranger Wilcox, who could not swim, immediately belly crawled to Ranger Fonda’s position to try to reach him with a ski pole. Ranger Spurgeon also went to the location to help. The ice then cracked and the other two rangers fell into the river.

“Ranger Spurgeon was able to remove his skis and then tried to remove the skis of the other rangers but was unsuccessful. He then climbed out of the water. He was able to pull Ranger Wilcox out of the water but Ranger Fonda, who was still treading water with his skis on, went under and did not resurface.

“Ranger Wilcox was suffering from severe hypothermia and was unable to move or speak. Ranger Spurgeon, who was also suffering from hypothermia, immediately set out for the nearest ranger station to radio for help and medical supplies.

“When rescue workers arrived at the scene they found that Ranger Wilcox had passed away from exposure.

“Ranger Wilcox was posthumously awarded a Citation of Valor from the Department of the Interior and the Bronze Medal from the Carnegie Hero Commission for his efforts to save Ranger Fonda. Ranger Spurgeon was also awarded the Citation of Valor.

“Ranger Wilcox had been with the agency for 24 years. Ranger Spurgeon had started with the Park Service as a teenage horse packer and worked his way up through the ranger ranks.”

Statewide support

A few Fridays ago Riverton and Powell played football in Riverton. The quarterback from Powell was in a car accident a few days before and was in a medically induced coma, waiting for a surgical procedure. The Riverton folks raised over $5,000 to help with the medical expenses. You read correctly: The people from Riverton raised money for the football player from Powell. That is just the Wyoming way.

Zaist gets hitched

Tanya Zaist, a 2007 graduate of Jackson Hole High School and the daughter of Stan and Becky Zaist, was married Sept. 7 to Kenny Boyd, of Monterey, California. The wedding was held at Snake River Ranch on a beautiful fall day and was attended by family and friends from near and far. Tanya and Kenny will make their home in Honolulu, Hawaii, while she completes her residency in psychiatry.

Retirement pros

Ann and Vance Carruth just returned from a fabulous Viking cruise. They visited Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Berlin and Copenhagen. The tour ended in Bergen on the eastern coast of Norway. Those two know how to enjoy their retirement years.

Thanks, Shannon Burns

A big shout-out to Shannon Burns, an administrative assistant at Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, who followed through and found my mom’s hearing aid, which was lost in the ambulance. It was missing for 10 days and we had all but given up on finding it. Thank you, Shannon, for going the extra mile for us.

Flu (shot) season

Mark your calendars for Oct. 4, when the Teton County Health Department will be at the Senior Center of Jackson Hole from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. for the annual flu shot clinic. If you need a pneumonia vaccine you will be able to get that as well. Bring your Medicare card.

Purpose of public lands

I love our public lands and I have played on them all of my life, mostly in Wyoming and Utah.

I just read in the High Country News magazine something that really concerns me: The Bureau of Land Management’s mission was to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of American’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

The agency has dropped that goal from its press releases. It now stresses mineral development and the money that brings in.

Sept. 28 has been set aside as Wyoming Public Lands Day. Lend a hand and celebrate what public lands still represent to me: use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Email your Circling the Square information to Connie Owen at or call her at 734-9512.

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