A celebration of the life of Thomas Gerrard Easterly was held Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Greybull Elks Lodge. Tom, 50, died Feb. 20.
He was born Oct. 16, 1963, in Pierre, S.D., the son of Robert John “Bob” and Constance “Connie” Anne Stephany Easterly. He was the fifth of eight children.
Tom graduated from Raymond Central High School in Valparaiso, Neb., in 1981. He attended South Dakota State University and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife science. He completed his post-secondary education in 1989 and began his career as a biologist working in both western South Dakota and southern Wyoming.
Tom moved to Greybull in 1992 where he assumed the position of wildlife biologist for the Department of Game and Fish. Tom focused his efforts on ensuring that the area’s native wildlife species were able to live in a sustainable habitat. Because of his commitment to the maintenance of the county’s wildlife population, Tom served as a key figure in negotiations between landowners, private groups and governmental agencies. Tom played an integral role in several Game and Fish projects in the area, including the release and reestablishment of the bighorn sheep population in Shell Canyon and on Little Mountain, and the introduction of Rio Grande wild turkeys in river drainages throughout the Big Horn Basin. His leadership was also a critical element in investigations surrounding the management and sustainment of the basin’s sage grouse numbers.
Tom was the chairman of the Big Horn Basin Sage Grouse Working Group, one of seven statewide public working groups initiated by the governor. He was also a liaison with the University of Wyoming sage grouse researchers in the Big Horn Basin.
Tom served as a member of Paintrock Basin’s Coordinated Resource Management Group to improve forestry management throughout the county and on the Bighorn National Forest Resource Advisory Council that allocated federal funds for area forest improvement.
Tom also worked with local chapters of Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation; and was one of two biologists in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on the National Wild Turkey Federation’s State Technical Committee.
Tom was a true outdoorsman and his passion and enthusiasm reached far beyond his career. He taught hunter safety courses, led community forums to reinforce the need for habitat management, and volunteered on both the Greybull and Shell fire departments. He was active in the Paintrock Hunter Mentor Program and the Worland Outdoor Education Day and met annually with high school seniors to answer questions about the wildlife biologist vocation.
Tom directed youth mountain biking clinics, and performed regular maintenance on bike trails throughout the region as a member of the Wyoming State Trails Council
Tom was a member of Greybull Elks Lodge and held many offices in the organization; served on the Greybull Town Council and was instrumental in the revitalization of the city park’s recreational facilities and athletic fields and the addition of the skate park.
Tom led a full life in his 50 short years. His friendship was selfless, encouraging and unwavering. He was adventurous and always ready to spend a day outdoors with his buddies, whether mountain biking, skiing, hunting or hiking. He was soft-spoken yet stubborn, an independent spirit yet fiercely loyal to his friends.
Tom is survived by his parents, Bob and Connie Easterly of Haxtun, Colo.; four sisters, Debra Easterly of Pocatello, Idaho, Diane Easterly Molloy of Lincoln, Neb., Cathy Easterly Josephson of Firestone, Colo., and Sue Easterly Johnson of Oak Harbor, Wash.; two brothers, Jim Easterly of Arvada, Colo. and Steve Easterly of Appleton, Wis., and many nephews and nieces.
Contributions can be made to the Tom Easterly Memorial and Scholarship Fund, Big Horn Federal Savings Bank, 33 N. Sixth, Greybull, WY 82426.