On January 20, 2022, Erle D. Barto, age 86, of Evansville, Wyoming, after a struggle with kidney disease, headed off to get the band back together. He knew they were looking for a rhythm guitar player. He was born in the basement of a house on the corner of 3rd and Elk Street in Casper Wyoming on August 11, 1935, to Albert James and Florence Mildred (Struck) Barto. He attended McKinley School and, in 1953, graduated from Natrona County High School, where he held the rank of Major in the ROTC and was a four year member of their rifle team, winning national honors each year. He was employed briefly by Republic Supply Company and the City of Casper and was married to Mary Hiser of Glenrock Wyoming and then to Constance Jones of Casper for over 20 years. His association with their families endured. Erle was a lifetime member of Elks Lodge # 1353.
He joined the Wyoming Army National Guard exactly 69 years before his death, enlisting in B Battery 349th FA BN. Then in 1954 he was employed for 6 months as an OMS Mechanic and transferred to SVC Btry. He received a medical discharge in January 1956, reenlisting in SVC Btry in July 1957 when he departed for 6 months of Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Upon his return, he was reemployed as a full time OMS-3 Mechanic and attended training at Aberdeen MD, Ft. Sill, OK, and at the Tank and Automotive command in Warren, MI. In 1964 he reached the rank of E7 after which he had the opportunity to obtain Warrant Officer status, eventually becoming a CW4. He became Shop Chief of OMS-3 in Casper and commanded Service Battery for 21 years, supervising the maintenance programs in Casper, Douglas, Lusk, Newcastle, Gillette, Lander, Riverton, Afton, Evanston, Rock Springs and Rawlins. In 1985 he transferred to the State Maintenance Shop in Guernsey to take the position of UTES Chief, and was assigned to STARC HQ in Cheyenne as the Chief of the COMET Team for Wyoming, a position he held until his retirement in 1988.
In 1983, after purchasing a Super Cub and taking flight instruction from his best friend Bill Cheney, Erle earned his Private Pilot’s License. In July of that year he married Charlee (Holt) Foster. In 1985, the couple, together with her son Matthew, moved to Platte County where they operated a cattle ranch which included 160 acres of hay ground. Erle greatly appreciated his chance to be a cowboy. In the years that followed, he earned his commercial pilot’s license and honed his flying skills hunting coyotes in Platte, Goshen and Laramie counties alongside his long-time gunner and close friend Bob Cheney, whom he cherished like a second son. His proficiency with the airplane was further enhanced when he and Charlee ventured into the realm of commercial photography, taking aerial shots of every farm and ranch in southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado. Other flight experience included checking windmills and livestock. He and Matt frequently commuted by air to work and school. Erle’s involvement with the Airport board was key to the improvement of civilian facilities at the Guernsey airport.
After Matt’s graduation in 1998, the couple moved to the remote cabin Erle had built 28 years before. Erle considered it a privilege to have spent so much of his life fishing, looking for arrowheads, exploring the country by snowmobile and ATV and hunting for that elusive 85th elk. He often remarked that he was blessed to have had “a good wife, a good dog and a good horse,” and the company of the close knit community in the Deer Creek Park area.
Erle was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Carol (Doug) Bryden, Helen (Lee) Lareva, and Dolores Hart and his nephew Barry Erben.
He is survived by his wife Charlee, his son Matthew, nieces Kay Swanson and Corey Ralph, nephews Jim and Ken Trantham, David and Jeffrey Bryden, Frosty and Mike Erben, Charles Holt and their spouses. He is also survived by Pam Erben, Brandi & Jeff Zaccardi and Wendie, Pedro and Cody Mendoza, as well as a special group of friends that he considered family.
The family would like to thank Dr. Neff, Erle’s nurses Surrey & Candace, the staff at US Renal Care, the progressive care nurses at Wyoming Medical Center, and all who helped him. In lieu of flowers,donations to Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions or a charity of your choice would be appreciated.
A celebration of life will be held in summer of 2022.
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Bustard & Jacoby Funeral Home , 600 CY Avenue, Casper, WY 82601.