Donald E. Rhea, known as Duck, age 87 of Casper, Wyoming passed away peacefully on February 4, 2024 at his home.
Duck was born in Forsyth, Montana to Cecil Von Rhea and Edna Alice Morrison on September 18, 1936. He went to rural grade schools and lived with a family in Colstrip for his four years of high school, graduating in 1955. Following high school, Duck began college at Montana State University in Bozeman. Duck was introduced through mutual friends to Jean Henry, also known as Jill, in early 1958.
In November of 1958, Duck was drafted into the United States Army starting out in Fort Benning, Georgia, where Duck became an expert marksman. He sailed to Europe on the USS Butner and was stationed in Germany. Duck was honorably discharged from the Army in November of 1960.
He returned to Montana State University to complete his degree in Range Management. During college, Duck was active in college rodeo, riding broncs and also serving as the President of the MSU Rodeo Team, graduating in 1962. During college, Duck worked for USDA as a research assistant and as a foreman at the stockyards where he also lived.
In June of 1963, Duck and Jill were married in Sheridan, Wyoming and moved to Elko, Nevada where Duck began working at the Bureau of Land Management as a range conservationist. During this time, the couple had their three children, Von, Ruth and Dan. In addition to being promoted to fatherhood, Duck was also promoted to Area Manager with the BLM.
Duck, Jill and the kids pulled up stakes in December of 1969 and moved to Pinedale, Wyoming where Duck was promoted to Chief of Operations. During this time, Duck discovered what would be his lifelong love of team roping.
In May of 1974, the family moved to Casper, Wyoming where Duck became the Chief of Operations for a larger division. Duck was involved in the inception and construction of the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, later serving on the foundation board. Duck retired from the BLM in May of 1994, after 31 years.
However, Duck never quite retired. He kept himself busy doing various jobs, such as sculpture assistant, hot shot driver, hired ranch hand, construction worker, stall mucker, hay baler, and other jobs too numerous to mention.
Throughout the years, Duck was involved in his children’s many activities. From being a 4H Leader to taking an active role in their education and sporting activities, Duck was part of it all. He was also known as the Owner/Operator of the Duck Rhea Arena, holding ropings with his buddies two or three nights a week. One of the highlights of Duck’s roping career was qualifying for the USTRC National Finals in Oklahoma City in 1999.
Duck is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jill of Casper; three children, Von (Denver), Ruth (Colorado Springs) and Dan (Phoenix); four grandchildren, Kristen, Abby, Jackson and Alyson; two brothers, Ken and Kirk; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his Mother, Edna, and his Father, Cecil Von Rhea.
Celebration of Life will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Friday, February 9, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. Please join the family for a reception at Occasions by Cory located at 303 S. Wolcott Street, Casper, Wyoming 8260 from 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Burial will be held at a later date at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center or an organization of your choosing.