Cover photo for Maurice Zardus's Obituary
1928 Maurice 2016

Maurice Zardus

July 7, 1928 — January 21, 2016

Maurice John Zardus

Long-time resident of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Maurice John Zardus, a beloved father and dear husband, passed away on January 21, 2016, at the age of 87 in Payson, Utah, following a rapid onset of health problems. Entering this life on July 7, 1928, in Darby, Pennsylvania, he was the first of three children born to Maurice John and Anne Purfield Zardus. He is survived by his younger sister, Joan Zardus of Silver Spring, MD; his wife of 57 years, Shirley Anne Fox; his five children: Heidi Zardus of Jackson, WY; John Zardus of Charleston, SC; Heather Beecher of Salem, UT; Jeff Zardus of Jackson, WY; and Holly Zardus Oliver of Jakarta, Indonesia; and three grandchildren, Sierra and Jenna Zardus and Hannah Beecher.

Maurice was a glass-half-full kind of guy who lived a happy, fulfilling life. From an early age he was at home in the out of doors. With his brother Jack and other close friends, he had many adventures camping out on Assateague Island, Maryland, catching falcons to train to hunt and catching pigeons on the national mall in D.C. to use for bait. Always in love with birds, he later studied ornithology as a graduate student at Cornell University and later wrote Birds of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, published in 1967. While in college he was drafted into the Army during the Korean Conflict and served in an engineering unit in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, testing ways to build and blow up bridges.

He was a clever craftsman like his architect father and could make or fix anything. While a student at Cornell, Maurice spent a summer in La Barge, Wyoming, to work for the Wyoming Fish and Game for "just a summer" and essentially never left. His transition to Wyoming in 1957 brought big changes to his life; over the next year he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1958 married Shirley from the Fox ranch on La Barge creek.

During his first summer in Wyoming Maurice lived in a tent on La Barge creek and after marrying, moved up the road to a log house in Big Piney, where he taught high school science and worked for Surveyor Scherbel, Ltd. He will always be remembered by his student Anthony Tomasi whose desk he wired with an electric current, sending Anthony a jolt when his attention was needed. Three children later, he joined the National Park Service and the family began an adventurous roving life in some of the country's great national parks where Maurice worked as a park ranger and ultimately as a biologist, beginning in Grand Teton National Park and eventually taking positions in Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Great Sand Dunes National Parks as well. Two more children joined the family while living in California and Colorado . As a biologist he managed many interesting projects including tagging and relocating problem bears by helicopter, participating in the early development of prescribed burns, studying deer migrations, and monitoring population dynamics of endangered California golden trout by flying in helicopters to go fishing in high mountain lakes.

Known to his park comrades as "Zard" or "Morris," he was a renowned hiker, making it in a single day from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon and frequently leaving fellow hikers in the dust while exploring the Sierras and the Tetons. Rigorous hikes up to Amphitheater or Holly Lake were often followed by a discrete but clotheless dip in the water. Park neighbors from the early days remember his "weird animal parts in the frig" and serenades in the shower coming through the thin bathroom walls that separated them. He was also a dead aim with his Smith & Wesson .44 revolver, killing with one shot to the head a six-foot plus rattlesnake in the backyard and dropping a black bear in the garage to the floor with a single shot to the forehead. He didn't realize the bear was only knocked unconscious until he came back to haul out the body and found the bear gone and the flattened slug of the bullet lying on the floor.

Maurice eventually forsook his increasingly desk-oriented job with the park service and took early retirement in 1979 to return to his past, surveying for Paul Scherbel in Wyoming. The family settled back in Jackson Hole--ending up nearly how they started: living in a quaint log house that Maurice built on the flanks of Snow King mountain. In the last few years of his life, as the exigencies of age demanded, Shirley and Maurice migrated to Utah to be near their daughter Heather in Salem. There, he focused his energy and attention on the care of his dear and ailing wife, Shirley.

He remained a stalwart member of the LDS church throughout his life, giving service and support to many. As a member of the American Legion he enjoyed being able to decorate the cemetery with flags to honor the war dead. He will be missed and fondly remembered by many friends and family. A viewing will be held Wednesday, January, 27 at 9:00am followed by a funeral at 10:00am at the LDS chapel, 420 E Broadway, Jackson, Wyoming. Interment will follow later in the day at Plainview Cemetery, Big Piney, Wyoming.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Maurice Zardus, please visit our flower store.


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