George Ditton, 96, longtime resident of Pinedale, Wyo., passed away on Dec. 29, 2020, at the Sublette County Nursing Facility in Pinedale, Wyo.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, to George Andorf and Margaret (Maggie) Koepnick, George moved with his mother to Boulder, Wyo., as a child in the 1930s following his parents’ divorce, and was later adopted by Paul Ditton when Maggie remarried.
George’s stepfather, Paul, ranched outside of Boulder. George met his wife, Ella Mae Sparks, daughter of rancher Don Sparks, when they were both attending the Boulder school.
George entered the Army Air Corps in 1942, and was deployed to the Pacific Front during World War II where he served until 1945. He and Ella Mae married in 1947, and had their first child, Theo Luckey Ditton, in 1948. Their second, Dawn Ella Ditton, was born in 1955. His granddaughter, Andreanna Ditton, was born in 1974.
For most of his adult life, George ranched in Boulder. In 1972, George and Ella Mae moved into “town,” selling the ranch, building a house and establishing residence in Pinedale, Wyo., where George began to work for Van Gas/Suburban Propane, driving the massive propane truck to ranches throughout the country.
George was an avid, talented musician, playing in country western bands in his youth, and continuing to make music and perform until very close to his death in 2020. His stage was often the Sublette Center, accompanied by singers and fellow musicians, and he took great pleasure in entertaining the residents at various dances and happy hours. He was notorious for his musical arrangements, which included sheets and sheets taped together so he never had to “turn the page.”
Music was also a passion he shared with many members of his family, from son Luckey and daughter Dawn, to granddaughter Andreanna and great-grandson David. However, attempts to start a family band were thwarted by a universal refusal amongst George and his descendants to all play at the same tempo. He definitely strummed to his own (bass) drummer.
He loved to read, particularly history and nonfiction, and was a strong supporter and advocate for Pinedale’s local library.
George was a warm and affectionate grandparent, both to his biological and step-grandchildren. He was always willing to participate in any manner of silliness, from tea parties to board games to cards. He was indulgent and funny, and made sure to end any conversation with an expression of his love. An extrovert, he enjoyed reminiscing with friends and family, telling stories, and driving around the countryside with visitors and sharing stories from his childhood in the austere and beautiful landscape.
George was understandably proud of his Army service and veteran status, participating in the Veteran’s Day activities in Pinedale for many years, wearing (and fitting into) his original uniform for most of them.
The loss of his mother, Margaret, and later Ella Mae to cancer, and son Luckey to complications from stroke, wore on him and when he moved into an apartment at the Sublette Center, the community feeling was a great source of support and enjoyment.
George is survived by daughter and son-in-law Dawn and Eric Easton, granddaughter Andreanna Ditton and her family, husband Mike D’Alonzo and son David, daughter-in-law Janice Ditton, and step-grandchildren Kara Wichman, husband Jeff Wichman and children Kendall and Grant, and Heather Tobiason, and son Dane.
Memorial donations can be made in his name to the following organizations: Sublette Center, Rendezvous Pointe, Pinedale Fine Arts Council, Sublette County Library and St. John’s Hospice, Jackson.