Juel M. Trask

Surrounded by his loving family, Juel Melton Trask, 30-year resident of Encampment and Riverside, WY, passed away on May 14, 2024.

                Juel was born to Helen Worthington Trask and Haskell Trask November 16, 1935 in a snowstorm. The doctor had a hard time making it down to the cabin in the hollow by the creek near Ogeechee, Cherokee Nation, OK, but it’s good thing he did because the baby wasn’t breathing and had begun to turn blue. The doctor switched him between basins of hot and cold water until the newborn took his first breath.

                As a toddler, Juel loved to explore, so to keep him from tumbling into the creek, his mother secured him by a long tether to the clothesline.

                Juel’s father was a farmer, school principal and minister. His mother was a teacher and an artist. Juel’s maternal grandmother, Edna, who as a child had made, with her parents, the 2nd Oklahoma land run, sparked his love of horses, animals and nature. Juel began playing the piano at age 5. At 17, he joined the Naval Reserves and when on leave in New Orleans, sought out the great jazz pianists and learned all he could from them. They taught him so much that when he returned to Oklahoma, he formed a jazz band and put himself through college playing for dances and other events.

                He also loved sciences (geology, biology, physics), taught high school in Tulsa, achieved an M.A., and did research at M.I.T. where, in leisure moments, he sailed up and down the Charles River while listening to the live outdoor concert of the Boston Pops Orchestra. He had worked nearly to a Ph.D. before he moved west to the Rockies—which he’d first seen as a child on a family trip—and took a job wrangling horses. He taught science for about 35 years altogether, mostly at Arvada West High School. He also made topographical maps of Colorado mountains and of various cities which were used to lay the groundwork for the interstate highway system.

                With his wife, Corine, Juel had two sons, Erik and Craig. He made sure Erik had all the practice and equipment he needed to become an excellent ski racer. Juel became a USSA supervisor, designing and setting up the safety barriers for the races. He taught Craig to fish the creeks of the Ozarks and the Rockies, enjoying exploring nature alone, as every child needs opportunity to do. Both sons went on to successful careers in business.

                With his second wife, Liz, he had two sons, Tom and Scott, whose talents in music, art, and writing Juel encouraged. While camping, Juel told the boys stories he made up with an entire cast of animal characters that he would voice. He made up frontier songs based on family history and outfitted the boys for Rendevous. With a colleague, Juel gave Tom flying lessons when he was 15.  Tom and Scott followed Juel’s example by serving in the Navy.

After retirement in 1993, Juel moved to Wyoming and in 2003 married Dawn Senior, a local artist, writer and horsewoman who still lived in her family’s cabin with no electricity or running water. They rode the mountain trails on horseback together, shared all the work of taking care of 6 or 7 horses, helped ranch friends work cattle, and had fun adventures on their many travels.

                This merely glances at a life richly varied in interests and accomplishments. Whenever anyone expressed admiration for these, Juel always said, “Oh, no, I wasn’t a genius. I just worked hard.”  Juel could talk to anyone knowledgeably about whatever interested them, from trains, sailing and computers to frontier history, American Indian history and culture, geology, archeology, music, opera, and many other topics. He worked toward the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, participated in the annual Hawk Watch, and took keen interest in all wildlife and environmental concerns. With a pleasant and kind personality, he always expressed his love for all his family and friends. He was a one-of-a-kind man who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

                He is survived by his wife Dawn, his brother Charles, four sons, eleven grandchildren, two great grandchildren, nieces, grand niece and nephew, and his beloved mustang mare Chiggy-bump. The family will hold a private memorial. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Helping Hands, the Wyoming Outdoor Council or Pet Partners of Carbon County.

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