David Robert Raynolds
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David Robert Raynolds

February 15, 1928 - June 19, 2015

David Robert Raynolds

February 15, 1928 - June 19, 2015

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Obituary for David Robert Raynolds

Dave Raynolds, Bison Rancher, Diplomat, Author

David R. W. Raynolds of Lander, Wyoming died Friday June 19 2015 of heart failure.

Born in New York City on February 15th, 1928, son of author Robert F. Raynolds and Marguerite E. Gerdau Raynolds, Dave enjoyed a rural childhood with his younger sisters Ann and Barbara in Newtown, Connecticut. His high school years were spent at the Putney School in Vermont, and he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1949.

Dave met Mary Alice Kean of Elizabeth, New Jersey while she was attending Smith College and he was at Dartmouth. He courted her with his winnings from poker games. The couple married in 1951, and embarked on 64 years of shared adventure. Always together, they traveled the world, visiting many countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Their five children were born during overseas postings and in Washington, D.C.

After Army service in Occupied Japan, where his first two children were born, Dave completed his MA at Wesleyan University, did predoctoral work at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and graduated from the National War College in 1973. Joining the Foreign Service in 1956, he served in the Diplomatic Corps in El Salvador, France, Haiti, Pakistan, and Washington, D.C. He was the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award by the Department of State in 1966.

Following the trail of his great uncle William Franklin Raynolds, who explored the Yellowstone region, Dave and May discovered Lander, and became familiar with the character and sinews of the west. In 1964 the family spent a year in Lander while Dave wrote a book on El Salvador’s economy. The couple settled permanently in the Lander area in 1975, and developed a bison herd at Table Mountain Ranch, perched above the Popo Agie River west of town. Here Dave spent almost forty years becoming deeply involved in the community. He was especially proud of his 26 year membership on the steering committee of the Wyoming Business Alliance, with its Leadership Wyoming program. Wyoming Farm Bureau, Lander Leader, Wyoming Heritage Foundation, American Legion, Wyoming Historical and Archeological Societies and Museum of the American West are a few of the organizations he joined. He was Past President of the National Buffalo Association and Lander Rotary, and life member of the Explorer’s Club. He was proud to be listed in Marquis Who’s Who. Dave and May shared their buffalo meat with the community through the Farmers Market, and at the annual Fourth of July Buffalo Barbecue. Dave, in his cowboy hat and shaggy buffalo coat, shared his taste and enthusiasm for the west with all he encountered. He will also be remembered for his letters to the editor in the Casper Star Tribune and other periodicals.

Dave had a wonderful ability to soak up knowledge and share perspectives from the lives of ants to the lives of artists, from the biology of buffalo to the nature of international conflict resolution. His encyclopedic knowledge and his generous and gregarious nature made him a valued member of the community and of the organizations he joined. An entertaining storyteller, he delighted in recounting tales from his travels and encounters that would surprise and inform his audience. He loved books and the printed word, and had an astounding memory and ability to comprehend and communicate the larger contexts of history, society and economics. He had a knack for gathering information and making intuitive leaps, arriving at valid conclusions.

Dave’s love of adventure took him and his family from the Serengeti to the Sweetwater. His last trip, earlier this month, was to the South of France within the walled city of Carcassonne, where he and May introduced their granddaughters to the subtleties of croissants and siege strategies of European armies.

Dave is survived by his wife May, and sister Ann Listokin (Bob) of Winston-Salem NC; children Bob (Mary) of Longmont CO, Linda (Elijah Cobb) of Cody WY, Martha (Sam Dashevsky) of Fairbanks AK, Laura (Alex Blackmer) of Fort Collins CO, and David (Sharon Bolles), of Talent OR; by grandchildren Will and Bobby Raynolds, Margi and Danny Dashevsky, Courtney and Lisa Blackmer-Raynolds, Jasper Raynolds and Kyrianna Bolles. Dave was predeceased by his parents and sister Barbara. He leaves behind hundreds of friends and admirers.

Celebration of Life on July 14th 2015 at the Lander Community Center, 5:00 to 10PM.

Donations in Dave's honor can be made locally to the Museum of the American West, or to Rotary International.

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