Todd “Bird” Randy Robertson died peacefully Oct. 24 at home while surrounded by family. His family provided the following.
Todd was born Aug. 20, 1954, in Jackson Hole to Dan and Mary “Tillie” Robertson. Todd grew up with his older brother, Mitch, younger sister, Cally, and hundreds of relatives just south of the town of Jackson. Todd grew up in the wilderness and was an avid outdoorsman. He loved animals and would often bring home strays.
Todd and his siblings were often exploited as free labor to milk cows, gather eggs and put up hay on his grandparents John and Hazel Jansen’s homestead in Porcupine Creek. At the age of 14, Todd lived in a bunkhouse and worked summers with Phil Engler and Tom Toolson on the Brown Ranch for Arthur “Brownie” and Phyllis.
Bird rode bareback broncs in high school rodeo in Ten Sleep, Kaycee, Riverton and Rock Springs. He loved to reminisce about his fabled ride on the horse Alkali. He was very proud of all the pretty rides his brother Mitch and cousins Phil, Steve, Jerry, Chancy and Chet, to name a few, would make during various rough stock events.
Todd later dropped out of school to help his dad guide hunters, dog timber (his favorite) and slow the spread of pine beetles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Bird worked as a hunting guide for a variety of outfitters in the valley throughout his life, but his favorite was Alice Thompson. Bird always loved Alice’s cooking. During the hunting offseasons Todd worked as a carpenter for his brother Mitch and other contractors throughout the valley and as a log pole furniture maker for his Uncle Larry. Todd always joked he was a better lover than a carpenter.
Todd married Debbie Nielson on Aug. 25, 1979, and they had two beautiful children; his daughter, Kashia, and son, Kyle. Todd and his family lived on the homestead of his grandparents Eck and Chloe Robertson, next to his parents and sister’s family on Hog Island. Todd worked hard and almost died on several occasions helping his family carve an existence on the homestead. Todd’s chainsaw kicked back one day while he was gathering firewood for his parents and sister. The saw bounced off his glasses and landed on his arm; leaving nothing but the bone exposed from his elbow to his wrist. On another occasion, while Todd was helping his sister wire up her house, his knife slipped and slit an artery in his wrist, and he almost bled to death. Cally remembers Todd as her “Honey-do man.”
As a family man Todd spent most weekends camping and fishing with his sister’s and brother’s families. He floated the Snake River on his leaky rubber raft, scoffed at clouds of mosquitoes while fly-fishing Fall Creek and Dallas Lake, braved the cold to ice fish for mackinaw with nothing but his gators and mustache and bared his white legs during snow machine swimming trips to Granite Hot Springs. He and his fearless crew were often towed back to dock in his boat, The SS Minnow, during the annual Jackson Lake fishing derby, with Patsy Cline or John Denver blaring on the radio. He loved to go whistle pig hunting with anybody that would jump in the truck with him and taking out B-52 bombers with his shotgun on the Wyoming desert. He and Debbie loved to hunt elk on Munger Mountain and enjoyed the outdoors. However, they did eventually divorce.
Bird had a great sense of humor and loved to scare the bejesus out of kids during camping trips with ghost and bear stories. On one such occasion on a pack trip, the men were telling bear stories to the kids. When the kids were not watching, Todd snuck out of the wall tent and started growling in the distance. Just when he heard his nephews exclaim about the noise, he burst under the tent’s wall and grabbed them on the shoulders in a great roar. There are still three wet spots at the head of the Gros Ventre River where his nephews pissed in their sleeping bags.
Todd followed the Wyoming High School Rodeo circuit in the spring and fall to watch his daughter Kashia barrel race and to pull bull ropes for his nephew, Danny. If you look carefully in some of the bull riding pictures you can see Uncle Bird in the background, and more importantly, Todd would be the first one in the arena if his nephew got into trouble.
Todd eventually had to give up carpentry and took up cowboying for his Uncle Steve in Big Piney. Todd worked on the ranch with his cousin Phil, until Steve sold the ranch.
Todd was a hell of a horseman. If fact, once he got in the saddle he wasn’t coming out of it for the rest of the day. Todd worked on the 3-Bar ranch for five years, and moved back to the family homestead to help his mom after his father passed. However, Todd’s health soon deteriorated, and he was looked over by his mom and sister.
Perhaps Todd’s greatest legacy was instilling in his son Kyle a love for fishing. The two regularly entered derbies both in Pinedale and Jackson. Todd was most proud of Kyle when he won the ice derby on Fremont Lake, and he didn’t hesitate to brag him up every chance he got. When Todd became too sick to fish, he lived vicariously through Kyle and his catches. A love of mackinaw fishing lives on through Kyle and his three boys, and they will miss his frequent phone calls while out on the lake.
Todd is preceded in death by his brother, Mitch; dad, Dan; grandparents, Eck and Chloe Robertson and John and Hazel Jansen. Todd is survived by his daughter, Kashia (Eric) Hiltbrunner, granddaughter Trista and grandson Wesley; son Kyle (Rose) Robertson and grandsons Eckert, Augustus and Willard; his mom, Tillie; sister, Cally and the remaining Hog Island clan.
A service for Todd will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Daniel Community Center, 18 Schoolhouse Lane, Daniel, WY 83115. A main course of lasagna will be provided. Please bring some sort of side dish for everyone to enjoy.
We will miss Bird’s colorful idiosyncrasies of touring the Island on his riding lawn mower or his enunciation of a particular cussword, his hunting, ghost, finger bone and bear stories. Most of all we are going to miss his big heart, honesty, friendship and the love he felt for all of his family.