OBITUARY: James Whitney Godbolt, Sr. Oct. 21, 1922–Oct. 17, 2013

JAMES WHITNEY GODBOLT, SR. Oct. 21, 1922–Oct. 17, 2013

James Whitney Godbolt, Sr. died in Loveland, Colo. on Oct. 17, 2013, four days before his 91st birthday. Jim was born on Oct. 21, 1922 in Red Bluff, Calif., the son of Dr. Fred B. and Martha (Tinker) Godbolt. He spent a good part of his youth hunting, fishing, swimming and boating with his mother and father on the Sacramento River and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lassen Volcanic National Park. His father, a dentist in Red Bluff for over 50 years, was an avid fly fisherman and hunter, and Jim and his father had numerous memorable hunting and fly fishing outings. In his late teens and early 20s, he opened the bucking chutes for the Red Bluff Round Up when Slim Pickens was the local rodeo clown.

Jim graduated from Red Bluff High School in 1940, and after attending college for two years, entered into military service in the U. S. Army in 1942, where he served during World War II in Europe and the Pacific in the Army Medical Corp. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and received the Bronze Star Combat Medal. He rematriculated in college at Chico State College in Chico, California, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 1949. When he returned to California after the War he spent most of his summers as a seasonal ranger at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

During the summer of 1948 he bought a fishing boat and fished commercially for salmon off the California coast. On Sept. 3, 1948, he married Barbara Jane Staffelbach in Chico, Calif., whom he had met when he enrolled at Chico State. After 1949, Jim and Barbara spent the next 37 years in various U. S. National Parks, where Jim served as a park ranger and later advanced to management positions as his career progressed.
Some of his assignments were: Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico; Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina; Badlands National Monument, South Dakota; Glacier National Park, Montana; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming; Northeast Regional Office, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Fire Island National Seashore, New York. In several of the parks he served as Superintendent. In 1979 the U.S. Department of Interior awarded him with the Meritorious Service Award for his career achievements in the National Park Service. After his last assignment in Rocky Mountain National Park, he retired in 1985 in Estes Park, Colo. 

Jim was a member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Estes Park and the Rotary Club of Estes Park, and was a Rotary member for nearly 40 years. He also served on the Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority from 1988 to 1997. He and Barbara were charter members of the Friday Nighters Dance Club in Estes Park and enjoyed cross country skiing. Jim was an avid outdoorsman and fly fisherman, having fished all over the West and tied his own flies since childhood. He also was an upland bird and waterfowl hunter. In the 1970s he took up spring turkey hunting and it became his springtime fever.
He harvested his last turkey in 2011, at age 88. He shared his love of the outdoors with all of his five children. When they were old enough to hold fly rods, he exposed them to fly fishing. He took as many of them along as would join him on numerous backpacking and canoeing trips in the vicinity of good trout fishing waters. Starting in the mid 1970s, he took annual fall trout fishing trips and spring turkey hunts in Montana and was joined by one or more of his three sons. 

Jim is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Estes Park; sons H. Grant (Diane) of Whitehall, Mont.; James Whitney, Jr.  (Ragnhild) of Tonsberg, Norway; Reid Andrew (Courtney) of Denver, Colo.; daughters Lisa Martha Godbolt of Steamboat Springs, Colo.;  and Jennifer Jane Godbolt-Hoffman (Bill) of Canandaigua, NY; sisters Sally Conover and Ann Sousa of southern California;  and 12 grandchildren – Asne (Matts) Lund-Godbolt, Alf Lund-Godbolt, Lars Lund-Godbolt, Daniel Lund-Godbolt, Emerson Grant Godbolt, Nelson Reid Godbolt,  Joan Lisa  Godbolt, James Whitney Godbolt, III, Courtney Claire Godbolt, Connor Reid Godbolt, Annamarie Elizabeth Anderson and Luke Allen Anderson. He and Barbara have two great grandchildren, Oskar Bruun Godbolt and Ella Bruun Godbolt. 

A memorial service was held for Jim at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Estes Park Oct. 30. Memorial contributions may be made to the Estes Park Library Foundation in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 1302 Graves Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado 80517.