Willard K. Gould, “KooXuTei’ “ (Two Sides), 68, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at the Help for Hospice in Riverton, Wyoming. He was born on September 16, 1950 in Fort Washakie to Theresa Whiteplume (Gould) Whitewolf and Burnett Brown. Willard was later adopted by Leslie Gould, Sr. He attended Mill Creek Elementary School and graduated from Fremont County Vocational High School (FCVHS) now Lander Valley High School in 1969.
During his tenure at FCVHS, he was a member of Lander’s first ever State Championship team in 1968 for the Tigers. Willard was an All-American and All-State Basketball player. An All-American player is a member of an honorary basketball team, which is made up of 50 of the best amateur players of a specific season for each team position. Willard was a guard and the shortest member of the team. Willard suffered a broken bone in his foot and was not expected to play in that Championship game. To the thrill of the Lander Tiger fans, a “taped up” Willard Gould lead his team onto the court, and they defeated Cheyenne East to be State Champions. The celebration commenced with teammates and jubilant fans lifting Willard onto their shoulders.
One of his last great joys was participating in the 50th Class of 1969 Reunion in Lander this past 4th of July holiday. At an afternoon gathering, the story of the Lander Tigers 1968 State Championship was retold. Willard had emerged as a hero of the District and State Tournaments and the Championship game. At the Class of ’69 Reunion, teammates and classmates hoisted Willard onto their shoulders for a triumphant re-creation of that thrilling moment.
After graduating from Lander High School, Willard attended UCLA and Bacone College. Willard also served in the United States Navy. In 1973, he married Darlene Weed and from this marriage his daughter, Marie Gould was born. They later divorced. In 1984, Willard married Ophelia Warren. They later divorced. Willard was a musician playing the drums and guitar for his band.
If anything, Willard was a humble man. He had emerged from the depths of depression and alcoholism early in his adulthood and came back stronger. At one of his lowest moments, Willard made a conscious decision to change his life and did so in impressive fashion. Just like on the basketball floor, he called to his friends to help be on his team. He began attending Alcoholic Anonymous and gave up liquor. Willard was an intellectual as he earned a certificate in Counseling while living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was adamant in his chosen professional as he battled addiction and overcame it with the help of friends and counseling while in Utah. After living in Salt Lake for three years, he chose to come back to the Wind River Reservation with the intent to help other family members and friends who have lost their way. Willard was like that, unselfish and caring. Once a friend, you were always a friend.
As a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, Willard won the respect of his fellow Tribal members and was elected to the highest office of the Tribe. He was elected to the Northern Arapaho Tribal Business Council, where he served with distinction for one term. He enjoyed and learned from this position as he wanted to serve his people and ensure the continued sovereignty of the Tribe. After serving on the Council, he was employed by the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
Willard never forgot his friends and teammates. He loved basketball, and you could find him in the stands at the high school hoop contests and at Central Wyoming College on any given night when a game was on. On those nights off, you’d find Willard watching basketball on TV. He was always talking about the game.
Perhaps his most enduring quality for those who knew him best was his laughter and the way he talked with his hands. He loved his family and grandchildren, always teasing about being the “real Elvis or having many girlfriends.” He was never at a loss to greet you with a smile at a game, Walmart, at a powwow, or enjoying a meal at the Casino.
When Willard was diagnosed with cancer, it was his long-time friend Rosemary who took him to Salt Lake and was with him for his chemo treatments. When it became obvious the treatments were ineffective. Willard made the decision to stop the treatments and return home to be with his family, classmates and friends one last time.
Willard is survived by his daughter, Marie (Ben)Snyder, grandsons Kyle Osborne, Chad and Charles Snyder, granddaughter Moriah Osborne and great-granddaughters Hehaka Wastela Osborne and Zitkala Winyan Osborne. Sisters Theresa Marie Wells, Emogene (George) Wells, and Haroldine Whitewolf. His nephews Theron (Kaye) Wells, Willard Wells, Richard Christian, Jay (Lisa) Wells, Algene Gould, Carlton Gould, Bryson Whitewolf, Allison Sage, Jr. His nieces Orlena Killsontop, Zola Killsontop, Dr. Vonda Wells, Julene (Calvin) Todd, Nadine Christian, JoAnn Moss, Vernessa Jorgenson, Krista Whitewolf, Daelynn Whitewolf, Karen (Gary) Chingman, Della Sage, and Jolene Sage. Numerous grandchildren and great children.
Willard is also survived by life-long friends Rosemary Gee, Carl Polson, Buzz Thurber, Ernie Over and many of his classmates from school and the community.
He is preceded in death by his parents Theresa Whitewolf, Burnett Brown and Leslie Gould, Sr., his brothers Keith Gould, Allison Sage, Sr. and Leslie Gould, Jr. His sisters Theodosia Gould, Jeanie Moss and Pearl Brown. His nephews Gary Killsontop, Verle Killsontop, Peter Killsontop, Jason Killsontop, Clarence Moss, III (Tator), Leslie Gould, III. Nieces Theresa Moss, Paula Wells, Isabel Wells, Marlissa Jorgenson and great granddaughter Azure Osborne.
Willard’s legacy inspires us to strive for better communities and to strive to better ourselves.
A wake service on Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm at Blue Sky Hall and wake to follow at Marie (Ben) Snyder residence, 364 ½ South Fork Road, Fort Washakie, Wyoming.
Funeral service is on Monday, August 19, 2019 at 10:00 am. Blue Sky Hall, Ethete, Wyoming. Interment at St. Michael’s Mission Cemetery, Ethete, Wyoming.
Feast and Give Away will follow interment at Blue Sky Hall, Ethete, Wyoming.
Acknowledgements: The family wishes to acknowledge with deep appreciation the many expressions of love, concern and kindness during this time of bereavement. May God bless you and keep you. Hohou.