Longtime Jackson Hole resident, outfitter and guide Michael Metherell died Aug. 15 at his home in Cornville, Arizona, at age 66. He passed away peacefully after a valiant 15-month battle against glioblastoma. His family provided the following.
Michael was born Feb. 22, 1954, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His father worked for the National Park Service as a ranger, and Michael was afforded a youth surrounded by the best scenery this country has to offer. They lived in Blue Ridge Parkway, Acadia, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion national parks. That upbringing instilled in him a love for wild places that he carried with him throughout his life.
Michael settled in the Jackson area in 1973, living with family friends in Grand Teton National Park. He began a career as a guide on the Snake River for Barker-Ewing that would span 25 years and would lead to guiding opportunities from Manitoba to Argentina and Peru. Michael was at his best behind the oars and left an indelible impression on all who encountered him in the riparian realm.
The fall months found Michael high in the backcountry of the Wyoming and Wind River ranges chasing big game as a guide for various outfits. Experience gained there led to the purchase of Swift Creek Outfitters, which Michael owned and operated with his family for a number of years. The remainder of the year Michael found employment where he could, including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. After realizing that the path of the seasonal journeyman made it difficult to feed his growing boys Michael transitioned into a full-time career as a carpenter, where his methodical perfectionism served him well.
In his twilight years Michael moved to the Verde Valley in Arizona. He found residence and employment on the Rockin’ River Ranch, where he could work with his beloved horses and dogs. That led to a life of quiet retirement on a small and beautifully irrigated parcel in the community of Cornville. It was just big enough for his two horses, dogs, cats and chickens. There he could pursue his passion for gardening, and a short walk away was a spring-fed creek for fly-fishing.
Michael was passionate about fly-fishing and could cast to a timeless rhythm that many seek but few actually find. To watch him with a fly rod was nothing short of mythic. Watching him cast was emblematic of how he lived his life as a whole: slow, calm, quiet, present and in tune with the natural world around him. Michael’s impact on this world will continue to reverberate here with us and beyond just like the ripple from a perfectly placed dry fly.
Of all of Michael’s accomplishments he was foremost an incredible father and grandfather. His love survives with his partner Maryann Canning, brother Ken (Kay), sister Kathy (Dayle) Flanigan, children Jakob (Molly) and Luke (Beki), Maryann’s children Cody and Emma (Jorge), grandchildren Quinn and Griffin, Maryann’s grandchildren Niko, Iris and Penny, nephews Seth (Jenny) Flanigan, and Jake (Sarah) Flanigan, their children Liam, Sloan, Westly, Lochlan and Aster, and most importantly his beloved dog Thomas.
A memorial for Michael will be held at a future date.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Barrow Neurological Foundation IBTC, 124 W. Thomas Road, Suite 250, Phoenix, AZ 85013 or via Give.SupportBarrow.org.