Obituary: John Tyler Dodge
John Tyler Dodge
December 15, 1933 — April 10, 2017
John Tyler Dodge, a highly regarded 4th generation Wyoming rancher, passed away on April 10, 2017, at his home in Wheatland, Wyoming. Tyler was a hard-working devoted man of character, integrity and humor who was a friend and mentor to many.
Tyler was born Dec. 15, 1933, to George Walter and Beulah (Needham) Dodge in Wheatland, Wyoming. He grew up on the Dodge Ranch (the combined River & the 96 ranches) on the Laramie Plains, where his family raised cattle and sheep and, during WWII, raised Jersey cows in order to sell the cream for grocery money.
He shared his early schooling with his younger brothers, David and Jimmy, in a one-room schoolhouse that was at one end of the bunkhouse. Tyler was the first pupil for teachers Ruth (Lunde Boyd) Hutchinson (who also taught Tyler’s daughters years later), and Thelma (Plaga) Garton. Beulah was his teacher from fourth through eighth grades. He attended Wheatland High School while living with his grandparents, Tom and Eva (Dover) Dodge, and graduated in 1951. That fall, he enrolled at the University of Wyoming where he joined the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
On Feb. 8, 1954, Tyler was drafted into the United States Army. After he completed Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, he transferred to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and was then stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado where he began serving as a wheel mechanic.
Soon afterward, Tyler was assigned to the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command (MCWTC) at Camp Hale in Colorado. The men in this elite group were taught summer and winter mountaineering and survival skills by the original 10th Mountain Division; they in turn became instructors to Special Forces groups from the Army and Air Force. They participated in search and rescue efforts during this time as well, and were part of the group that spearheaded the recovery from the United Airlines Flight 409 crash into Medicine Bow Peak in 1955. “The type of work which you performed requires an extremely high degree of skill and confidence and you certainly displayed this to the many employees we had in the area and I can assure you they were amazed.”, W. A. Patterson, President, United Airlines.
Upon his release from the service on Nov. 22, 1955, Tyler returned to UW where he finished earning his degree in Agricultural Engineering. He spent as much time as possible on the slopes as a member of UW’s collegiate ski team or on the rocks with buddies from their local climbing club.
The day after graduation in 1958, Tyler moved to Granby, Colorado, where he spent much of the next decade managing the agricultural part of C Lazy U Guest Ranch in the summers. During the winters, he and several MCWTC friends were part of the Mountain/Slope Maintenance crew and Ski Patrol at Winter Park. While training in the Army, Tyler spent a considerable amount of time skiing mountain terrains where the future Vail, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge ski areas were developed. During the late ’50s and early ’60s, he helped his very good friend, Buddy Werner, begin mapping Storm Mountain/Mount Werner to become what is now known as Steamboat Ski Resort.
At one point Tyler left C Lazy U and started his own excavation company. His many projects included developing the Columbine Lake home/resort area, and building early roads for what would later become Copper Mountain Ski Resort.
In the early 1960s, while at C Lazy U, Tyler crossed paths with a 16-year-old young lady named Nettie Orthwein of St. Louis, Missouri. Their paths separated and then later rejoined. It became clear that they were both taken with each other, and on May 7, 1966, the Cowboy married the Lady. They resided in Granby for five years and welcomed daughter Nina in 1968 and twin daughters Andrea (Andi) and Carolyn in 1969.
In Dec. 1971, Tyler and Nettie moved to Frisco, Colorado. Tyler became employee #3 and the mountain manager for Copper Mountain, working with his good friend Chuck Lewis from MCWTC days to develop and build the ski area. To this day Copper remains unique in its layout and for the fact that it was the first mountain in the United States to deploy helicopters to place all the lift towers for the chairlifts. As the work on the mountain commenced, Tyler took the time to teach his daughters to ski. To this day their love of skiing is solely due to and because of Tyler’s expertise and sheer enjoyment of a sport he loved so much.
In December 1974, after the successful opening of Copper Mountain, the family moved back to Wheatland, Wyoming where Tyler then began the next phase in his life: farmer and rancher. From the small farm on Rock Lake Road and the custom feedlot on Hightower Road, Tyler taught Nettie and his daughters how to raise sheep, cut hay, sort cattle, and so many of the other tasks necessary to build a thriving agri-business. Tyler and Nettie then took their knowledge and work ethic to the ranch on Sybille Creek Road and built it into the thriving success it is today. His girls learned how to rake and sweep hay, work cattle horseback, and kill rattlesnakes.
In the mid-1980s, Tyler saw the need to reactivate his construction business. Little did he know that his experience and quality of work would keep him busier than the ranch. Tyler Dodge Construction was in demand all over southeastern Wyoming and was always one of the first called when a wildfire got out of hand. His family, friends, neighbors, and the surrounding community benefited from his expertise and advice when it came to building dams, roads, stock water tanks, foundations, and more.
Through it all, Tyler and Nettie worked side by side for almost 51 years, raising their three daughters and creating a legacy.
Tyler is survived by his beloved wife, Nettie. His three daughters, Nina (Tim Bookout) and Carolyn (Chris Gdowski) both of Denver, Colorado, and Andi (Dave Bush) of Wheatland, Wyoming. His 10 grandchildren, Tyler Anderson and Keali and Kyle Bookout; Meagan, Connor, Blake, and Makayla Gdowski; and Ryan, Travis, and Michael Bush. His great-grandchildren, Khairi and Claire Bookout. His brother David (Betty) of Wheatland, Wyoming, and his niece CeeAnn (Ed Vaughan) of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A memorial service was held April 24, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. at the Wheatland Bible Church. Donations to: 10th Mountain Division Foundation, Inc. – 133 South Van Gordon Street, Suite 200, Lakewood, CO 80228, and Hillsdale College – 33 East College Street, Hillsdale, MI 49242 are appreciated.
Gorman Funeral Homes – Platte Chapel of Wheatland, Wyoming are in charge of the arrangements. Please send condolences to the family at www.gormanfh.com
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