Longtime resident of Jackson Hole, Shirley Anne Fox Zardus passed away on April 8, 2017, at the age of 88 in Payson, Utah, following a long decline in health.
Entering life on Jan. 3, 1929, in Ogden, Utah, the second of three children born to Rube and Capitola Fox, she was raised on the family’s cattle ranch 10 miles up LaBarge creek from LaBarge, Wyo. To call it rural was even more of an understatement then as it is now. As a girl, Shirley enjoyed riding horses and absorbing the wild beauty of her beloved Wyoming.
Seared in her memory was the experience she had with scarlet fever at about age 8. It was February and when her parents realized she was seriously ill, they, along with two family friends, headed for the hospital in Kemmerer and became trapped by a blizzard on the highway at midday. Stuck in the car for hours, by evening they had eaten all the wrapped chocolates their friends had intended to send as a Valentine’s gift. Finally, Shirley’s father ventured out into the storm and returned a short time later to lead them all to a sheepherder’s wagon where Shirley was wrapped in the warm pungent blankets of the shepherd. All were greatly relieved that night to see the lights of horse-drawn sleighs and the town of Opal’s only snowplow coming to their rescue, notified by the hospital, which suspected trouble when the patient didn’t arrive as prearranged.
Graduating valedictorian of her eight-member high school class, she went on to earn a teaching degree from the University of Wyoming and to graduate from Brigham Young University. Shirley was a lifelong learner and enjoyed playing games of wit; she was nearly impossible to beat at Scrabble.
At age 24, she served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in post-World War II Germany before the Berlin wall was built. In 1958, she married Maurice John Zardus, Jr., an ornithology student from the Washington, D.C. area who had come to LaBarge Creek for a summer to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They set up house 20 miles up the highway in Big Piney, where they lived in a small log house with Maurice teaching high school science.
Shirley fell ill with polio in 1959 (the only case in the state) while pregnant with her first child. Fortunately, the only long-term debilitations she suffered were the inability to roll her tongue or stand on her toes. Two children later, the family began an adventurous life living in some of the country’s great national parks when Maurice hired on as a park ranger. Three more children joined the family during their life journey, which took them to Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Great Sand Dunes National Parks. After retiring early from the park service in 1978, Maurice took a job with Scherbel Surveying, Ltd. and moved the family to Jackson Hole; eventually Shirley and Maurice ended up nearly how they started – living in a small log house they built on Snow King Mountain.
An entertaining and talented speaker, Shirley was also famous for clever theme parties and delectable “cowgirl” dinners around the home firepit. Renowned for her sense of humor, one of her best gags was offering a door prize at a party and arranging for the neighbor next door to win. The prize was that neighbor’s front door, taken off its hinges and brought over during the party.
In the last years of their life, Shirley and Maurice migrated to Utah to be near their daughter Heather in Salem. Though she survived another devastating virus at age 84, this time encephalitis, Shirley was left weakened and slowly came to her final rest. Shirley remained a stalwart member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints throughout her life, giving service and support to many.
Nearly the last of her generation, Shirley is predeceased by her husband, her brother Dee, sister Bonnie and many loved ones.
She is survived by her five children Heidi and Jeff Zardus of Jackson, Wyo., John Zardus of Charleston, S.C., Heather Beecher of Salem, Utah, and Holly Zardus Oliver of Jakarta, Indonesia, three grandchildren Sierra, Jenna and Hannah, and many excellent friends.
She is dearly missed and fondly remembered. A viewing was held Friday, April 14, at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 420 E. Broadway in Jackson, Wyoming followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. Interment took place that afternoon at Plainview Cemetery in Big Piney, Wyo.
To express condolences visit www.LegacyFunerals.com.