Donald (Rowdy) Yestness passed away peacefully on October 31, 2015 in Victor, Idaho. He died after a three year battle with leukemia, defying most medical predictions. He always defied predictions and through grit and tenacity accomplished many quests, goals and adventures.
He was born May 21, 1927 in Pollack, South Dakota of Clarence and Opal Yestness. Don lived his long life large, making many friends wherever he went and he went many varied places. The abbreviated list of his many accomplishments doesn't begin to touch how well or fully he lived all aspects of his life. Don sought to learn and experience and become proficient when opportunities presented themselves as well and thoroughly as possible, regardless of the effort or risk involved.
Don served in the Navy in WWII as a frogman in the Underwater Demnolition Teams, the original Navy Seals, performing beach recon and demolition for several landings, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Decorations include a silver star, bronze star and purple heart. In college at the University of Nebraska and Black Hills State College , he excelled in track and football, setting many records. Don married Jane Eickmeyer and they had two children, Steven and Kristine. He loved to coach football and taught and coached in many schools. Don was a ski patrolman and supervisor at Vail, Colorado. He met his partner Statia Taylor in Vail in 1977.
In the late 70's and 80's , Don and Statia built passive solar homes in the mountains east of Albuquerque. While there, Statia taught Don to sail. After retiring from construction, they bought a trimaran sailboat in the San Francisco Bay area, set sail down the coast of California , around Cabo San Lucas and up into the Sea of Cortez. They spent many winters there sailing, diving, and meeting new and interesting friends. Don also sailed from Puerto Vallarta , Mexico across the Pacific to the Marquesas, Tuamotos, and Tahiti .
Don was happiest in the wilderness of Wyoming. After a stint as a smoke jumper with the Forest Service in the late 40's, and a Park Service Climbing Ranger at Devils Tower, he spent summer and fall as a Park Ranger in Yellowstone National Park, patroling Yellowstone Lake, Shoshone Lake and the Thoroughfare. Don was part of the bear management changes when the Park closed the food dumps and had many humorous and tragic stories about the bear tourist conflicts. He retired from the Park Service in 1983.
Don worked for the Grand Teton Lodge Co. summers 1996 - 2008 as a horse wrangler and tour boat captain on Jackson Lake. He also captained boats for Jenny Lake Boating. His vast park experiences provided him with endless stories of park rescues, wildlife issues and tourist antics. Winters were spent in Chino Valley, Az.
Don's son Lt. Colonel Steven Yestness, USAF predeased him. Don leaves his partner Statia Taylor, his daughter Kristine Quinlan of Windsor, Colorado, Brenda Yestness, grandchildren Nissa (Shaun), Sean (Cyndy), Larissa, and Astrid(Dylan) and great grandchildren Ashlynn, Danielle, William, Reece, Brayden, Vina, and Lochlan whom he loved dearly.
No services will be held at this time. A celebration of Don's life will be held next summer. Donations may be made to The Yellowstone Park Foundation, the Ranger Heritage Initiative in Don's name.