Ramona Sunderwirth Durand, 80, passed away April 28, 2012, at St. John’s Medical Center. She was born June 8, 1932, in El Dorado Springs, the youngest of three children. Growing up, her family operated a small dairy farm and worked very hard to make ends meet. Ramona’s duties on the dairy included washing milk bottles and delivering milk. She enjoyed the outdoors and playing basketball.
As a young girl, Ramona took several trips to Powell, where her other’s family lived. After graduating from high school, Ramona attended Tarkio College in Tarkio, where she studied business administration. Her senior year of college, the woman’s basketball team on which she played, won the state championship. Ramona was elected homecoming queen. After graduating from college in 1953, Ramona went to work for Fred and Eva Topping, who at the time operated Moosehead Ranch near Moran. After only three days on the job, Ramona wrote home and told her parents Jackson Hole, WY, was where she would call home.
Later that summer, she met Vern Bressler. Vern had recently gotten out of the Army and was working as a fishing guide at Leek’s Lodge on Jackson Lake. That same year, they married at the Church of Transfiguration in Moose.
Winter work was sparse in Jackson Hole in those days, so Vern and Ramona would leave Jackson in the winter to find work. From the oil fields of Casper to work in Arizona, they did what it took to make ends meet. During the summer season, Vern worked as a fishing guide for Bob Carmichael in the Moose tackle shop. Ramona worked for the park and helped out in the tackle shop. She became a worked class fly tier. In 1965, Vern went to work for the Jackson Lake Lodge Company running the Colter Bay marina and the Moose tackle shop. Ramona, along with Gene Downer, was able to secure a scenic float trip permit from the park and began Osprey Enterprises. They had one raft and an old van, but they kept busy floating from Schwabacher’s Landing to Moose. Osprey Enterprises was eventually sold to the Triangle X Ranch. Even with her busy schedule, every summer Ramona would find time to take her four boys on a camping trip. It seemed Elk Island and Spalding Bay were among the favorites.
Around 1970, Vern and Ramona moved their family to the Crescent H Ranch south of Wilson and started Rivermeadows. With a handful of top fishing guides and their four boys, Rivermeadows became one of the county’s leading fly-fishing destinations. Ramona enjoyed going on pack trips to the headwater of the Yellowstone and spending time with her boys.
In 1975, Vern and Ramona divorced. Ramona worked various jobs in Jackson. She spent some time in New York but always found herself back in Jackson Hole. From her house in east Jackson, she loved hiking up Cache Creek. Ramona spent many of her summers up to Little Greys River with her trusty dog, Olauf. Hiking every day and harassing the cutthroat trout in the stream were her favorite pastimes. Each winter, Ramona would get together with her two older brothers in Arizona and hike around the desert.
Ramona lost her fight with cancer and now is in God‘s hands. Those who knew her appreciated her kindness and love for life’s simple things. She will be missed by all.
Ramona is survived by her four boys and three daughters-in-law, Dave and Kathy Bressler – Wilson, Mike Bressler – Jackson, Mark and LuAnn Bressler – Kenai, AK, and Joe and Karen Bressler – Star Valley; five grandchildren, Jenny Carr, Jarred, Eric, Sara and Joe; great-grandson, Tosh Carr, age three, and already a great angler; her two older brothers, Alfred and Stanley Sunderwirth; and her great friend, Moy Nethercott. She was preceded in death by her parents, George and Lora Sunderwirth.