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Pinedale Online > News > August 2022 > Obituary – James T. Noble

James T. Noble. Photo by .
James T. Noble
Obituary – James T. Noble
August 2, 2022

James T. Noble passed away on July 26, 2022 at his home in Cora, Wyoming, at the age of 88. While there were many times that we thought we were going to lose Jim along the way, but he always proved us wrong. He lived through five heart attacks, a near amputation of his leg, cancer, being mauled by crazy mama cows, and many horse and four-wheeler wrecks. He pulled through each of these disasters without a single complaint and when asked how he was doing, would reply "it will feel better when it quits hurting." Jim was the "ultimate healing machine" in part, due to the great care administered by his loving wife Margret.

Jim was born August 2, 1933, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, son to Carroll R. & Christine A. Noble. He grew up on the Noble Ranch in Cora where his great-grandfather had settled in 1889. This was where he learned the values of hard work and determination that helped him succeed in many endeavors throughout his lifetime.

Times were hard in Jim’s youth. Depending on what weather Wyoming threw at him, he would ride horseback, ski, or take a team and sled to make it to the one-room schoolhouse in Cora, just a little over a mile from the Noble Ranch. Jim described himself as a bit of a troublemaker; from dipping girls’ braids in the inkwell to arriving at school smelling like a skunk, thus earning him the nickname "Stinky". One girl made sure that Jim carried this nickname all the way through high school. However, karma was on Jim’s side and the girl got sprayed by a skunk on her prom night! As a teenager, Jim bought his first car, which was a big deal at the time. He became a 3-sport athlete participating in football, basketball, and track. There was no school transportation in those days, so he and the coach drove most of the team to and from all of their events. One winter after returning from a basketball game, Jim fell asleep at the wheel near New Fork Bridge by the Ehman Lane turnoff and ran off the road. There were no seatbelts, so he was thrown from the car. He woke up the next morning on the highway with an enormous goose egg on his head, pulled out the dents from his fender and drove home just like any other day!

Jim graduated from Pinedale High School in 1951, joined the Army in 1953 and served in Korea until 1955. When asked about his time in Korea, Jim remembered it as being the coldest damn place on earth!

Soon after returning to Cora, he met Margret Skorcz who was working at the Pinedale Inn for the summer of 1955. They were married June 3, 1956, in Our Lady of Peace Catholic church in Pinedale. They lived and worked at the Noble ranch until 1960 when they bought land from Harry Rahm and named it the Bootjack Ranch.

Jim’s life philosophy was work hard and play hard. In his free time Jim could be found in the mountains, on the desert, or at the lake. One time in the early 70’s he had a weeklong pack trip planned with family and friends before haying started. They headed for Big Flat Top to start the trip. On rain slick dirt roads, they slid off a corner in the stock truck and dumped nine horses everywhere. The passengers were stacked on top of each other and had to climb out the driver’s window. Most people would cancel their trip at this point, but Jim caught the horses, packed them with gear and sent everyone up the road on the pack trip. Jim got the truck back on its wheels, then rode into camp late that evening! He dealt with challenges as part of the adventure and they made his stories all the more memorable. Lake time was spent at New Fork with family and friends, best known as "The Wild Bunch". Jim was an avid water skier and taught anyone and everyone that wanted to learn. When the high lakes were frozen, he would meet his good friends, the Borzeas and the Warbys, on Big Sandy Reservoir for an icy Easter water skiing weekend.

During winter months, Jim spent time snowmobiling with family and friends. In 1968 Jim and Margret were part of a group of nine snowmobilers from Pinedale to break trail into Yellowstone National Park and spend the night at Old Faithful. At this time, there were no people, no accommodations, no restrictions; it was a winter wonderland of breathtaking beauty. When they arrived at the lodge, there were 2 rangers and a caretaker. They asked if they could spend the night at the lodge, to which the forest rangers said, "NO". After the rangers skied away, the caretaker got to talking with the group and told them about his broken down Evinrude snowmobile in a shed. Fred Boyce and Perry Binning were Evinrude dealers at the time. In exchange for allowing them to stay in a cabin, the group of friends: Fred, Perry, Charlie Raper, and Jim stayed up most of the night and completely rebuilt his snowmobile. The poor guy had been marooned in the park all winter, so they left him with a working machine, a case of beer, and a huge smile! Overall, Jim was an avid snowmobiler and even competed in many cross-country races. In 1976, Jim’s three-man snowmobile team placed first in the 200-mile race from Dubois to Pinedale and back to Dubois.

Jim was a part owner of a Cessna 182 which he loved flying and took to many meetings. One meeting in Cheyenne he was accompanied by a 17-year-old John Buyer who was eager to fly anywhere. It was storm with zero visibility on the way home. John remembers their plane wheels practically touching the sagebrush next to I-80 and Jim looking over at him with a big grin asking, "Are we okay?" John nodded confidently and said "yeah", but in later years marveled at their good luck! That was how Jim operated: always cool, confident, and fearless. Jim soon learned that owning a plane was a hole in his pocket and not really faster if you were always grounded due to bad weather. After all, the cows needed fed every day.

Jim not only loved ranching; he was also very active in community affairs and spent his life contributing to the causes he believed in. He served 2 terms on the school board, six years on the Rural Health Care Board, was on the Wyoming Water Development Commission, President of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, part of the grassroots committee that stopped the Atomic Energy Commission’s Wagon Wheel Project, was a commissioner for the New Fork Lake Irrigation District for 35 years, served as Commander and Adjutant for many of his 67 years as a member of the American Legion, and spent 5 years on the University of Wyoming’s Water Resources Center Board.

His true passion and life mission began in 1976 when his father Carroll suffered a stroke and there was no long-term nursing care available in Sublette County. Jim worked tirelessly on the planning and creation of the Sublette County Retirement Center, now known as the Sublette Center. He wanted a place where all Sublette County residents would be able to see their loved ones receive medical care close to home. The Sublette Center was dedicated in 1982 and Jim served on their board as chairman and treasurer for the next 23 years.

In later years, Jim’s happiness was found in his backhoe plowing snow, driving his side by side, and watching his children and grandchildren grow up to be part of the community. He was even fortunate enough to become a great grandfather.

Jim is survived by his wife Margret, his four children: James Mark (Susan), Carroll Annette Werbelow, Thomas Lars, and Zachary Michael (Deb), his seven grandchildren: Valerie Lynn Werbelow, Martin Lewis Werbelow, Scott Michael Noble, Reese Cora Noble, Hailey McCoy Noble, Brooke Ann Noble, Heather Thomas Noble, and one great grandchild Bennett Lane Brown all of which currently reside in Pinedale or Cora, Wyoming. He was preceded in death by his parents: Carroll R. and Christine A. Noble, his brothers Carroll Lester "Mike" and Richard Roy "Dick" Noble, and his sister Lilian Ida "Pat" Pearson. Services were held on July 30th, 2022. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sublette Center, PO Box 788, Pinedale, WY 82941.

Pinedale Online > News > August 2022 > Obituary – James T. Noble

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