Everett Deran Kilmer left this world on July 29th, just days short of his 90th birthday on August 1st. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Alvin Kilmer.
Everett’s story began on August 1, 1929, when he was welcomed as the second child of Clarence E. Kilmer and Ella Long Kilmer, joining his big sister Marie at their home near Arnold, NE. The young family then welcomed another son, Robert, in 1932. In the spring of 1933 they decided to follow Clarence’s brothers westward to Lusk, WY due to their previous year’s crop being hailed out in Nebraska. They bought land from Albert Bruch on Kirtley Road, northeast of Lusk, where Clarence set up a farming operation. Another son, Alvin, rounded out the family in 1936. While his three siblings grew up to pursue other careers, Everett was to remain connected to that land for the rest of his life.
After graduating from Lusk High School in 1947 Everett attended the University Of Wyoming and was a member of the UW football team. After one year there he returned home to help his father after his parents divorced. Still a Cowboy at heart, he traveled to Laramie games often.
On July 3, 1954, Everett married Fredda Lou Aten of Lance Creek. They soon made their home on the Kirtley property, assuming it from Clarence who suffered from ill health. On July 13, 1955, a son, Bruce Michael was born to the couple.
Everett continued the farming operations, along with cattle and sheep. He acquired a 1955 John Deere “R”, and he and his “Johnny-Popper” spent endless hours together raising the acres of wheat he loved to see ripening. The “R” was eventually replaced but still runs today.
Everett and Fredda Lou drove the Kirtley school bus for many years. The route was first driven by Clarence for a number of years beginning in 1935, then taken over by Donny and Thelma Freeman for a few years. When Donny’s health failed, Everett and Fredda Lou assumed the route. Fredda Lou, the primary driver, drove the bus for 29 years, then Bruce held the contract for 26 more years, the bus being discontinued just this year.
In 1947, at seventeen years old and still in high school, Everett joined the National Guard. He quickly worked through the ranks of corporal, Sergeant First Class, then spent five years as Master Sergeant of the most highly rated heavy artillery unit in the state. When pressured to take the next step of moving into Officers Training, Everett reluctantly resigned in 1959 because it would take too much time away from the ranch. During his eleven years the country saw conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, but his unit was never called into active duty.
Everett was always striving for the betterment of the community. He was involved in many activities and organizations. He helped build the first telephone line for the Kirtley Community. A charter member of the Up & Coming 4-H Club, he later served the club as a 4-H leader. He became a licensed realtor. He was a member of the Lusk Congregational Church, the Harrison Square Dance Club, the Arabian Horse Association, the Masons, and the Elks Organization, serving a term as Exalted Ruler of Lodge 1797. He also served four years on the Wyoming State School Board.
His most extensive involvement was his affiliation with the rural electric cooperative associations. He served on the local Niobrara Electric Board for forty-one years as well as higher level boards including twenty years on the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Board, and was a director of the Colorado River Electric Distribution Association. He also served on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association board and was elected Chairman in 2004. He traveled extensively attending these meetings, and sometimes Fredda Lou would manage to hire a substitute bus driver and go along. They did enjoy together the Alaskan cruise presented to Everett as a retirement gift from the National association.
Everett never knew a stranger and loved having visitors. Fredda Lou learned to always have coffee and brownies at the ready for anyone who might drop by. He delighted in being the perpetrator of more than a few pranks and was well known for his jokes, not only for their humor, but for his swift recall of a joke for every situation. This talent served him well in his years of meetings and board rooms.
He made a point of keeping in touch with family back in Nebraska, where both he and Fredda Lou had roots. On a trip to a family reunion there in 2003, Everett suffered a debilitating stroke. As a result, he and Fredda Lou moved into Lusk in 2005; Bruce and Barbara purchased the ranch from his parents. His years of farming were ended, but his ability to tell stories and jokes remained intact and he regaled the community with his craft.
Everett loved the land, the trophy deer that inhabited the Breaks, his cattle, the dogs that faithfully followed him around the field, and his horses, especially VR, a trusty Arabian given to him by his uncle Venus Kilmer. But most of all, his family was the pride of his life; his wife Fredda Lou, Bruce and his wife Barbara, and grandsons, Greg and Brent and their families. Grandpa will be dearly missed.
He lived life to the full and, as Fredda Lou has always said, he did it his way.
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