Dennis Patrick "Pat" Oglesby

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Dennis Patrick "Pat" Oglesby | Obituary,

Dennis Patrick "Pat" Oglesby

It's October, and normally I would be in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone Park with my spotting scope probing the mountainsides for a glimpse of wolves and grizzlies -- a road trip I've looked forward to each April and October. But this year I'm preparing for a journey to uncharted waters -- not something on my bucket list, but nonetheless a journey I will soon embark upon. Though difficult, the rewards of this journey have been infinite. I've swirled in the unpredictable back eddies of chemo for three years, and I'm ready to drift into home waters. Family, and friends have leant support, faith, good thoughts, prayers, and love, unconditionally and unbidden. My positive outlook and gratitude for life on this planet gave me far more years than a stage-four diagnosis warranted. Enormous gratitude to Drs. Emmons and Frank and the extraordinary medical staff at St. Mary's Oncology Center; to Dr. Nutting at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colo.; and to the caring, and dedicated team at HopeWest Hospice. Without all their treatment, support, and loving care this three-year extension would not have been possible.

I was born Dennis Patrick Oglesby on July 28, 1947, in Paonia, Colo., the first child of Edsel and Agnes Keenan Oglesby. The ensuing 10 years welcomed three more children: Linda, Joe, and Kathleen. We lived the ranch life on Clear Fork in Crawford until I was four when we moved to the Stirrup Bar Ranch in Maher, where I lived until age 18. Much of our life centered on 4-H activities; raising horses and cows taught us patience and responsibility and cemented our family. I was called Dennis, but after a few days in first grade, I changed my name to "Pat" to avoid association with "Dennis the Menace." But mostly I wanted to follow in the sturdy boots of my Grandad "Pat." Patrick Francis Keenan emigrated from Ireland, and I remember him as a hulking man who loved the ranch life; I was heavily influenced by "Pa" and his old-time cowboy ways.

In 1962 when the dams were built in Paonia and Crawford, I met classmate, Carol Sortland, whose father was a supervisor on the dam construction projects. The Sortlands embraced the Crawford area, where they built a home after years on the construction circuit. Crawford high schoolers were transferred to Paonia and in 1965 Carol and I graduated and took separate paths to "sow our wild oats." I attended Western State College in Gunnison, worked on microwave towers around the country, and eventually settled in Grand Junction where I was employed by Grand Valley Power for 40 years, retiring as the Operations Manager in 2011.

In the early 1970s Carol and I became reacquainted, fell in love and married on Aug. 24, 1974. Our life together was full. We loved fiercely, fought occasionally, stuck by and defended each other through the seasons of change. Though we had no children, we "adopted" Taila Oulton as our "grand" daughter. She's the wildflower who has enriched our lives, and ... she catches BIG fish!

I'll get to fishing in a minute, but I want to mention that in my spare time, during the winter and shoulder seasons (to avoid encounters with 'rattlers...), we roamed the deserts scouting for Native American rock art, supporting the protective work of the Colorado Archaeological Society. I've studied the history and life of Colorado and the West with particular interest in the Gunnison Valley, its allure and significant characters. Of special interest are tales, facts, and early films of the "Gunnison Navy," and excursions on the Gunnison River prior to construction of the dams. Photography and writing were also avid pursuits.

I was a fly fisher from an early age, angling the hallowed waters of the Gunnison River with my father in the days before the dams were built, when the river was known as a world-class fishery. Carol embraced my passion for fly fishing, and the hours morphed into 42 years pursuing trout, various saltwater species and "lowly" carp and whitefish. We coveted our time outdoors on the streams, rivers and back eddies of the Rocky Mountains and in upstate New York. I endured subfreezing winter temperatures on the Taylor and Frying Pan Rivers, popping ice off the guides of my fly rod just because once in a while I'd "hook a hog" ... We waded and "poled" the saltwater flats of Baja and Casa Blanca, Mexico and Cape Santa Maria in the Bahamas -- despite tropical storms, hurricanes and searing sunburns. Fishing was our passion; as lifetime members of Trout Unlimited and The International Federation of Fly Fishers, we enjoyed hundreds of volunteer hours protecting, enhancing and restoring coldwater fisheries. We received numerous conservation awards; the one we covet is the prestigious "Silver Trout" award, Colorado Trout Unlimited's highest honor extended for coldwater conservation activity in Colorado. We are the only couple to have received the award. Fly fishing has extended our "family" with friends around the world. My spirit is full with gratitude, love and passion.

My father, Edsel Oglesby, predeceased me in 1978. Survivors include my wife, Carol Oglesby of Grand Junction; my mother, Agnes Oglesby of Eckert; sister Linda Todd and her husband Jere of Chiapas, Mexico; brother Joe Oglesby of Crawford; sister Kathleen Starr of Hotchkiss; uncles Ray Keenan of Grand Junction and Robert Keenan of Montrose; "grand" daughter Taila Oulton of Bozeman, Mont.; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

As I transition from this lifetime, to my cherished family and friends, I say, "Thanks, I love you, and farewell." Keep the winds at your back, and one day we will meet at the eternal headwaters.

Contributions, in my memory, may be sent to HopeWest Hospice, 3090 N. 12th St., #B, Grand Junction, CO 81506; or Colorado Trout Unlimited Youth Education, 1536 Wynkoop Street, Suite 320, Denver, CO 80202. To make online memorial contributions, contact CTU at 303-440-2937, or log in to http://coloradotu.org and click the "Ways to Give" tab."

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Friends and family may leave their condolences at www.martinmortuary.com.

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