Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Maurice Zardus: 1928 ~ 2016


Longtime resident of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Maurice John Zardus died Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, Payson, Utah, following a rapid onset of health problems. He was 87.

Entering this life on July 7, 1928, in Darby, Penn., 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, Wyo., John Zardus of Charleston, S.C., Heather Beecher of Salem, Utah, Jeff Zardus of Jackson, Wyo., and Holly Zardus of Jakarta, Indonesia; and three grandchildren, Sierra and Jenna Zardus and Hannah Beecher.

Maurice 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 U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and served in an engineering unit in Fort Belvoir, Va. 

While a student at Cornell, Maurice spent a summer in La Barge, Wyo., 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 Fox from the Fox ranch on La Barge Creek. 

Later, he taught high school science and worked for Surveyor Scherbel, Ltd., in Big Piney, Wyo. Three children later, he joined the National Park Service. Maurice worked as a park ranger and ultimately as a biologist, beginning in Grand Teton (Wyo.) National Park and eventually taking positions in Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Great Sand Dunes (Colo.) national parks. 

Two more children joined the family while living in California and Colorado. As a biologist Maurice managed many 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 mountain lakes.

Maurice took early retirement in 1979 to return to his past, surveying for Paul Scherbel in Wyoming. The family settled back in Jackson Hole.

He remained a stalwart member of the LDS church throughout his life and was also a member of the American Legion. In September, Maurice returned to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, where he attended the employee reunion held in commemoration of Sequoia’s 125th anniversary.

Services were held in Jackson, Wyo., on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Interment was at Plainview Cemetery in Big Piney.