One of Fremont County’s most colorful and active community residents has passed at the age of 102. Dessie Bebout died last Friday. She was the matriarch of the storied Bebout family in Fremont County. Son Eli was a long-time member of the Wyoming State Legislature, Daughter Ruby lead Wyoming PBS through its formative years and now serves as the Vice-Chair of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting Board of Directors. Son Nick played in the National Football League, ending his career with the Seattle Seahawks playing left tackle. And theres’ more… Her full obituary is copied below:
August 15, 1920 – May 12, 2023
Devoted patriot, community leader, loving mother, grandmother and wife, Dessie Alice Bebout passed peacefully on Friday, May 12 at 102 years old, surrounded by her loving family and welcomed by God with open arms.
A viewing will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Thursday, May 18, 2023 at the Davis Funeral Home, Riverton, Wyoming. Services are scheduled for Friday, May 19, 2023, at 1 pm, at Lighthouse Bible Church, 1510 Lewis Street in Riverton with graveside services and military honors to follow at the Hudson Cemetery in Hudson, Wyoming.
Dessie grew up in Hudson, Wyoming, and the small town remained the center point of her family for generations. Born on August 15, 1920, to Bessie and Dan Svilar, Dessie was the fourth of 9 children (Nick, Ruby, Sophia, Dessie, Red, Eli, Kathryn and Mike). She took great pride in her family and their many family businesses, including Svilar’s Bar & Restaurant (still in operation), Svilar Light & Power, Svilars’ Derby Bar, and many others. She often told stories of their years in Hudson and embodied the lessons she learned during those early years – hard work, integrity, community, and sharing.
Dessie graduated from Fremont County Vocational High School in Lander in 1937, and then quickly shifted to helping provide for her family. A brilliant and motivated worker, she was first employed by the Fremont County Extension service and then at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, where Generals and colleagues recruited her for her smart problem solving and fast fingers on the typewriter.
The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 changed the course of history for both the United States and Dessie, who was an independent and patriotic woman. She joined the war effort in January 1943, six months after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law establishing a new division of the U.S. Navy called the WAVES or “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”. Dessie was one of the first women to enlist in the WAVES in Wyoming, and was part of the first class of females to be officially recognized in the United States as part of the U.S. Military Forces. Much to her father’s chagrin, she took a train to New York City for basic training and was then stationed in Seattle for 2 ½ years to perform the critical duty of recording – and sometimes tracking down – the arrival and departure of sailors to and from the Pacific fleet.
Although Dessie excelled in Seattle, her heart was captured by a handsome young man whom she had met in Hudson when she was 17 – Herbert Hugh Bebout. Affectionately called “H.H.”, Hugh was raised in Buffalo, Wyoming, but moved to Hudson in 1937, where he met Dessie. Hugh enlisted in the U.S Air Force in 1941, but despite the war years, Dessie and Hugh decided to marry in El Paso, Texas in 1943 while they were both on leave. In 1945, Dessie was offered the opportunity to attend Officer Training School, but opted to be honorably discharged alongside Hugh so they returned to Wyoming and started their life together, which would last 59 years, until Hugh passed in 2002.
Dessie and Hugh moved to Bairoil, Wyoming in 1945 where Hugh became a roustabout and they had two children, Eli and Ruby. Dessie lamented about the brutal winters and no washing machine, so in 1948, the family moved back to Fremont County to start a new life and have two more children: Nick and David. Always entrepreneurial, Dessie and Hugh decided to build a marina at Boysen Reservoir, since the dam and reservoir had been completed in 1951. They launched their marina enterprise in 1954 and sold it in 1960.
In 1961, Dessie lost her beloved sister, Kathryn, who had two children, Bessie and Mike Metcalf, and because of sister decisions, Bess and Mike came to live with Dessie and Hugh. Overnight the Bebout family became a family of seven. Dessie was so proud of her 5 children – she saw them all through high school and the University of Wyoming.
In 1962, Dessie started her capstone career in the U.S. Postal service, becoming Postmaster for Shoshoni, where she worked for 13 years. Before she retired she received the highest national award given to postmasters – The Order of the Vest, which was bestowed on her in 1975. Over the years Dessie served in many organizations: Shoshoni PTA, the Wyoming Women’s Commission, the Wyoming Private Industry Council, the Riverton Hospital Board, the Shoshoni Chamber of Commerce – and numerous others. Because of her civic and military service, Dessie received two prestigious awards in 2011: the “Wyoming Women of Distinction” award from the Wyoming Women’s Commission and the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 2022, she was honored in Hudson with “Dessie Bebout Day”.
Survivors include son Eli (Lorraine), daughter Ruby (deceased husband Ed), son Nick (Pam), niece Bess (Bruce) and nephew Mike, 13 grandchildren and19 great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her parents, husband Hugh, son David, and all of her brothers and sisters.
The family would request that memorial donations be given to any of the following: Help for Health Hospice, Wyoming PBS, Central Wyoming College Bebout/Family Scholarship, or the Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation.
On-line condolences may be made at TheDavisFuneralHome.com