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Sally Mae Sellers

June 29, 2018

Sally Moen Sellers was born in Medford, Oregon on July  4, 1929 (well, maybe July 3rd!) to Ruth and Arthur Moen. Her dad was a park ranger at Crater Lake National Park. When she was 5, her dad transferred to Yosemite National Park. Sally, together with her older sister Marilyn and brother, Barney, spent a beautiful childhood in this magnificent park. There she became a better-than- average ice skater and skier and hiked most of the trails leading out of the Valley. Some of her cherished memories of her Yosemite days included visits to her grammar school by Shirley Temple and Jack Benny. She has autographs and pictures to prove it! Sally took part in annual ice skating shows on the Camp Curry ice rink and managed to squeeze in 5 cable climbs to the summit of Half Dome. Yosemite kids were an active bunch! The Ansel Adams family was neighbors of the Moen’s and Sally’s schoolmates included Ansel’s kids. They had no idea how famous this nice bearded man would become!

In 1941, her dad retired and moved the family to Berkeley, CA but Sally continued to work many summers in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite. It was at Berkeley High School where she first met a classmate named Bob Sellers. Bob’s family considered Yosemite their second home and spent almost every vacation and holiday in the high country of the park. Sally and Bob’s first encounter was a complimentary car ride from Bob when Sally was going to visit friends and Bob was going to visit his parent’s at their weekend camp site. A connection was made and after their planned visits Bob and Sally ended up backpacking seven miles down the Tuolumne River for some camping and fly fishing. What a first date! A love affair had begun that never ended.

Bob’s lifelong dream was to become a park ranger. Sally decided that being a ranger’s wife wasn’t a bad idea. They were married August 30, 1952 after Bob graduated from Cal Berkeley. With the birth of their first son, Mike, their outdoor life continued. Bob got a summer ranger assignment in Grand Teton National Park, WY. Their new home was a 20-year-old wall tent with a wooden floor. They cooked on a Coleman stove, used a community out house, bathed under a wood- fired 55 gallon oil drum and slept on a single-size army cot. Mike was happy as a clam in his bassinet in a corner of the tent. Eventually, their housing improved to a hand-built one-room cabin in the North end of the park, but the other amenities remained the same. Ranger life was good, but winter still had to be spent in dreary, traffic-heavy Berkeley. Sally was an accomplished skier so much of the 1954-55 winter was spent skiing the Sierra’s with friends…and Sally patiently worked with Bob to improve his snowplow technique.

In November 1955, they transferred to a winter ranger assignment in Death Valley National Monument, CA where Bob became a permanent Park Ranger. They lived in a small house trailer and when daughter Margi was born in April, 1956, the trailer became seriously over-crowded so they moved into a tiny “house” built in 1942 for a Japanese relocation camp. It was not much bigger than the trailer, but it was their first real house and it had indoor plumbing!

The end of that year, it was off to Mount Rainier National Park. Here they lived in a huge log ranger station on the eastside of the park. With the exception of camping gear, the house was not furnished, but it was fun having a real home. Their nearest neighbors were 10 miles away and Sally became familiar with life as a Park Ranger wife, including driving Mike 5 miles each school day to meet the school bus. The rides to and from the bus stop often included dealing with car chains. Bob would disappear regularly responding to various incidents night and day. She would sometimes have to man the radio. However, she and the kids had a family of visiting black bears to provide plenty of entertainment. On weekends we skied at Paradise, a park ski area, so Sally could finally get back on the boards. In 1961, Sally gave birth to Ed in Puyallup, WA. [They always had fun with Ed’s birthplace because nobody outside of Washington could pronounce it let alone spell it.] The family was complete when they moved to Glacier National Park in 1962 where Bob was to be the District Ranger of the west side of the park. They had a two-bedroom house in a nice community. Sally could have some social life and the kids could have some playmates. Skiing remained a big part of their lives so the family made regular trips to Big Mountain and Schweitzer in Sandpoint, ID. Sally taught all the kids the finer points of getting down the hill so by the time they got to Yellowstone National Park in 1967, the kids were pretty good skiers.

In Yellowstone, Sally’s patient ski instruction began to pay off as Margi and Ed began serious ski racing and competed all over Wyoming and Montana. Sally joined a group of Yellowstone employee-wives who had similar interests such as hiking, biking, skiing (of course) and playing bridge. She was the equivalent of a “soccer mom”, as all three of the kids were heavily into athletics, football, track, basketball, etc. She was a vocal supporter and became very adept at watching sporting events and knitting at the same time. She and the other wives made use of the long Yellowstone winters by making ski trips into back country cabins for a night or two. She figured that the best way to enjoy Yellowstone in the winter was on a pair of big long cross country skis.

After ten years in Yellowstone, Sally and the family moved to Boise, ID where Bob accepted a job as the Wildland Fire Coordinator for the National Park Service at the Boise Interagency Fire Center. This was absolute culture shock! After 23 years in Government housing in small communities, the city life of Boise took some getting used to. One valuable discovery was that Boise had golf courses, tennis courts and a ski area. Sally took up golf, tennis, and continued skiing while Bob was travelling all over the lower 48 states and Alaska tending to Park Service fire problems.

In 1980, Sally and Bob joined the Bogus Basin ski patrol when they were known as “the elderly couple”. Sally patrolled for 6 seasons then was a big contributor to helping Bob hold on for another 25. The family made periodic trips to their summer place at Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho and after Bob retired in 1984, spent another 15 plus summers on the lake. They joined the Boise Racket and Swim Club in 1981 and began refining their tennis game.

When Bob retired, Sally decided to get a job. Her favorite saying at the time was “I married him for better or worse but not for lunch”.  She worked for the Weather Bureau of BIFC and the V.A Hospital until she could qualify for Medicare. She also put in time as a Welcome Wagon Hostess.

Sally is survived by Bob, her husband of 65 years and her children, Mike (Park City, UT), Ed (Hailey, ID), and Margi and her husband, Hank, (Portland, OR) and her grandchildren, Alexa and Inga who will miss her dearly.  Sally was fastidious about loading her dishwashers and was dedicated to doing what she could for the planet including composting and recycling everything possible.  She monitored politics and the stock market religiously and, up until only a few months ago, could be found doing yoga and pushing weights at the Racket and Swim Club.  She was also proud of her skills at tennis and golf and her tennis team from the Club once completed at the national level.  No question that she helped them get as far as they did.  She had a multitude of friends whom she cherished and by whom she will be greatly missed.  Needless to say she made many friends along her way. She will be remembered as a most giving, compassionate and active wife, mother and grandmother who never met a gin martini she didn’t like. It’s now time to grieve, share laughs, tears and memories… and learn how to load the dishwasher.

A Celebration of Life reception will be held on Saturday, August 25th at 2:30pm at the Cloverdale Funeral Home Reception Center (1200 N. Cloverdale Rd, Boise, 83713).  In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Sally's name to the Nature Conservancy organization, the National Parks Conservation organization, or any other institution dedicated to saving public lands. 

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