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Evergreen's wilderness warrior, Bill Mounsey, dies at age 94

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By Sandy Barnes

Longtime Evergreen resident William Bird Mounsey, who died Sunday at age 94, was a wilderness man at heart, said his daughter Diana Donovan. 

After retiring from a career in the Army in 1964, Mounsey settled in Evergreen with his wife, Louise. 

“He started his own wilderness university,” Donovan said. “He traveled all over the world teaching people about the wilderness … That was his legacy: the wilderness and the environment.”

The Mounseys established the University of Wilderness at their cabin in Wyoming, where Audubon members participated in field trips and classes.

While working with the Wilderness Society, Donovan said, her father once traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby as an expert for wilderness preservation.

“If he had his druthers, he would have lived as a mountain man in the wilderness,” said Donovan.

Instead, Mounsey worked with the Evergreen Audubon for more than 40 years, participating in the Evergreen Spruce Up effort and campaigning for the Endangered Species Act of 1973. 

Mounsey also was an early supporter of the Jeffco Open Space programs and the conservation of Elk and Noble meadows.

“He himself defined boundaries of Eagle’s Nest in Vail,” said Donovan.

In addition to his interest in nature, Mounsey also enjoyed being a member of the Evergreen Curmudgeons, which his daughter describes as “quite an influential little group.”

Mounsey and other members talk with political candidates and work on Evergreen projects.

He also participated in the development of the master plan for Evergreen and played an active role in the homeowner association in his neighborhood.

Last year, the Mounseys were honored for their years of service by Evergreen Audubon.

Bill Mounsey’s career in the military began in 1940 when he enlisted in the Army and was in the first graduating class of Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga.

After World War II started in late 1941, Mounsey headed to Fort Lewis, Wash. He spent most of the war in the South Pacific theater, serving on the front lines at Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands. 

Mounsey and his troops would follow the Marines in combat, fighting the battles that they began, said Donovan.

He also served in Austria, where he commanded a mountain mechanized company that defended three mountain passes from Russian invasion.

An injury in World War II that cracked his neck was eventually responsible for his death, she said. A recent fall triggered a spinal condition that was connected with Mounsey’s old injury.

While reflecting on her father’s life, Donovan said he was a man before his time who was very far-thinking.

The Mounseys have three daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A private service for Mounsey will be held later this week. 

Donovan said that at some point in the future, the family will plan a celebration of Mounsey’s life.

The family also is setting up a website in honor of Mounsey at BillMounsey.com.

 

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.