Obituary - Chick Joy

Chick Joy

A memorial service will be held for longtime Jackson resident Charles “Chick” Joy at 3 p.m. July 20 at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center.

Joy died peacefully April 26 in St. George, Utah. He was 99. His family provided the following.

Charles “Chick” Joy was born in 1920 in Salt Lake City. He had a classic boy’s life growing up in the Depression era of a small Western city, something that helped shape his life outlook.

Chick first saw Jackson Hole on a Boy Scout trip in 1935 from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park. He and other boys were riding in the back of a canvas-covered truck during a thunderstorm. The storm began to break, and Chick parted the canvas just enough to have a look. The sun was illuminating the high peaks of the Tetons, a magnificent sight that has stirred all of us who have made the valley home. He never forgot that first glimpse, and he vowed to return. Return he did, on many trips to fish and explore in Yellowstone, often with lifelong friend Louis Neilson.

Chick graduated from the University of Utah, with a major in geology. He married a beautiful woman he met while in college, Clare Pack. During the war he applied for Officers Candidate School, graduating a year later from the Corps of Engineers as a field artillery commander. He was assigned to the tank corps at Fort Knox as preparation for the invasion of Japan as a first lieutenant in Eisenhower’s 8th Army.

After the war the couple returned to Salt Lake City, where Chick found employment with Anaconda Mining Company. He worked first in the giant Apex-Bingham mine complex, then the Highland Boy mine in Toole. He had several brushes with death in the mines. In one particular story he liked to tell he was sampling a wall at the end of a nontimbered drift. He felt a few small pebbles trickle down on his hard hat. Deferring to instinct, he stepped back a few feet under the protection of the timber. As if on cue, the entire ceiling of rock thundered down where he had just been.

In 1948 he was transferred to Noonday Camp, a remote mining area in California just outside Death Valley where he was chief mining engineer. At Noonday there was one active mine, the War Eagle. It was on the verge of closing in 1948 because the ore had run out, yet Chick saw potential in the mine and sent for a diamond drill team to sample across a flat fault in the main vein on the 500 level.

The drill cores came back showing lead and silver ore, so Chick decided to run a drift through the fault. After a few days of blasting they found themselves within a body of high-grade ore. It was a “textbook discovery” according to Anaconda’s head mining geologist, the famous Reno Sales, the “father of mining geology.”

Harry Rosenburg, from the book “Fire and Forge: The Story of Titanium,” describes this event and his admiration of Chick: “Rosenberg admired Anaconda geologist Chick Joy to the point of awe. He wasn’t the only miner who felt that way. While it is no longer true today, in the 1940s a mine geologist was a bit like a sorcerer because it was the geologist who could determine where the ore was located. Just the fact that Joy was a thorough professional who wore neat khakis and had a swamp cooler in his office impressed the miners, but more importantly, he was at home down below and took time to explain how and why he took samples.”

Chick’s discovery kept the War Eagle alive through 1957, contributing to the region’s economy.

In 1949 son Fred was born. In 1951 the family moved a few miles north to the town of Shoshone when Chick became superintendent of mines for a small mining company, Southern California Minerals Co. The company had three owners: Walter Skeoch and his two sons, Jim and Tom. It specialized in the hard rock talc mines of Superior, Pongo, the Whitecap, Bonney and Panamint mines in Death Valley and the big Treasure State mine in Montana, all of which served the ceramics industry.

Chick was with SCMC for several years when an opportunity came to buy into the Western store The Roundup and facilitate the dream of living in Jackson Hole. At about the same time he was offered the head mining geologist job at the Park City mines in Utah, which he turned down. In 1958 a partnership was formed with wife Clare, her sister Neita and Neita’s husband, Abi. The partnership began business in the summer of 1958. Chick kept working for SCMC as a consulting superintendent of mines for four more years, during which time the Joys spent winters in Shoshone, California.

In 1963 Dick and Skippy Boyer’s Log Cabin Bar property on the south side of the square went up for sale. The property was in an excellent location, yet Chick and Abi were already in debt for The Roundup, and finding financing was difficult. Having formed lasting friendships with Walter, Jim and Tom Skeoch from his mining days, Chick formulated a proposal whereby the Skeochs could become shareholders along with him and Abi in a new company known as the “The Rancher Corp.”

The Rancher Bar and Lounge and The Ranch Shops opened in the summer of 1964 and became iconic on the square. Chick was president of The Rancher Corporation until he retired.

Over the years Chick and Clare volunteered their time to the community, Chick served as president of the hospital board and Clare as president of the St. John’s Auxiliary. Chick was a strong believer in education and helped several young adults with their tuition. He was a truly generous man.

Chick and Clare’s first grandchild, Heather, was born in 1979, followed by Kristen in 1981 and Charlie in 1987. Chick retired in 1990 and sold most of his Jackson businesses to Tom and Jane Skeoch. He then had knee surgery on both knees, having worn them out skiing at Alta, Snow King and Teton Village. He fondly remembered skiing spring corn snow on the Hobacks each year with Grant Larsen and Bill Mecham. From 1965 to 2008 he kept a boat at Colter Bay and enjoyed summers on Jackson Lake with Clare, Fred and Fred’s then-wife, Diana, and their children.

In 1970, Chick and Clare purchased a home on Maui. They loved the Hawaiian islands and spent many winters there but wanted a place closer to their grandchildren. They found a second home in St. George, Utah, as a more accessible respite from Jackson winters. It also allowed Chick to make a year-round venture of golf.

In April 2007, after two years of serious decline, Clare, Chick’s wife of 65 years, passed away at home. His lasting legacy is the tender at-home care he provided for her. She never had to go to a nursing facility.

Chick stubbornly took care of himself in similar fashion, living at his St. George home unassisted. He befriended his neighbor, Fawn Pickett, and assisted her in her later years.

He maintained his humor to the end.

Chick is survived by his son Fred, and his wife, Sue; grandchildren Heather (Patt) Joy Harrington, Kristen (Tom) Joy Hartnett and Charlie (Anna) Joy; and great-grandchildren Mack, Beau, Greyson and Maxwell, all of Jackson.


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