From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 16 - July 14, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online


Stratton Howell Van

S.H. (Stratton Howell) Van, 92, of Pinedale and formerly of Laramie, died Monday, June 27, 2005, at the Sublette Center. He was known as Van most of his life.

He was born Jan. 9, 1913, in a log cabin on Stump Hill, a mining town above Creede, Colo., to John and Katina Vamvakaris. Van's father returned to Greece when Van was three. Between the ages of four and nine, Van and his sister, Rebecca, lived with a foster family, the Millers, on a farm near Springfield, Colo. During that time, their name was changed from Vamvakaris to Van.

He also learned to speak English, hunt, fish and farm. He shot his first rabbit at the age of four, with a rifle that was taller than he. He had a pet coyote and learned to love the solitude of the outdoors. From the age of nine to 15, he lived with his mother and stepfather, Nicholas Gurmetakis. Van's mother and half brother died in a tragic car/train accident when he was 15 and he then lived with his sister, Rebecca, on a farm in eastern Colorado.

Van graduated from Granada High School in 1931 and received a football scholarship to attend Colorado State University. He served in the ROTC program and graduated from CSU as an officer in the Army Air Corps, with a degree in forestry in 1938. While attending CSU, he worked summers for the U.S. Forest Service as temporary forester on the Rio Grande National Forest in Monte Vista, Colo., in 1934 and the Shoshone National Forest in Cody in 1935.

Van married Dorothy E. Thompson on April 6, 1935, in Monte Vista. After graduation from CSU, Van was appointed a forester for the Roosevelt National Forest in Estes Park, Colo., in 1938 and then forester for the Medicine Bow National Forest in Laramie in 1939 and became district ranger for the Medicine Bow National Forest in 1942.

He served with Army Air Corps beginning in 1942 and was discharged as a major in 1946, having been stationed in Jefferson Barracks, Mo., and Hill Field Air Base in Ogden, Utah. His primary job was to train troops for deployment during World War II. Upon discharge, he became the district ranger for the Routt National Forest in Walden, Colo., for 10 years. Van transferred to the Medicine Bow National Forest in Laramie in 1956 as the supervisor's staff officer for recreation and lands and in 1958 he became the staff officer for timber, watershed and multiple-use. He held that position until retirement in 1968.

Van touched many lives in his life through his career, family, and friends. He had a wonderful, dry sense of humor, laughed easily and loved to hunt, fish, trap, garden and be outdoors. He stopped trapping at age 89 and shot his last antelope at age 90.

Van enjoyed making furniture, needlepoint pictures and his own frames. He was a member of the Lions Club in Walden, the ALCO Rod and Gun Club in Laramie and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at CSU.

Van was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandpa who taught all his family about the joys of living a life to the fullest and making the most of any situation. Van never complained or looked back. He always looked forward with a positive attitude.

Van came to Pinedale one year ago, when he was no longer able to live by himself. He loved fishing trips to Half Moon and Fremont lakes and being with his family for Sunday dinner. He was also appreciative of the staff and care at the Sublette Center.

He is survived by one son, Kent Van, and his wife, Cindy, of Cora; one daughter, Karen Hines, and her husband, Ron, of Cora; three grandchildren: Michelle Jacobson and her husband, Bill, of Harrisburg, S.D.; Sandra Sue Johnson and her husband, Jack, of Boulder City, Nev., and Cody Van and his wife, Kenna, of Fort Collins, Colo.; five great-grandchildren: Kimberly and Brittney Jacobson of Harrisburg, Allison Hughes of Boulder City and Taylor and Halee Van of Ft. Collins; a sister-in-law, Maxine Estes, and her husband, Marion, of Monte Vista; and a niece, Lynne Bouchard, of Waldorf, Md.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Dorothy, in 2002; his sister, Rebecca, in 2004; half-brother, Emanoel Gurmetakis, and half-sister, Anne Bouchard.

Graveside services and interment were held Thursday, June 30, at Green Hill Cemetery in Laramie with Rev. Dick Naumann officiating. Services were under the direction of Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home in Laramie.

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