Jack Arthur Rensel
January 15, 1929 ~ January 5, 2020
Jack Arthur Rensel passed away on January 5, 2020 while sitting at his window birdfeeder with a cup of coffee.
Jack was born on January 15, 1929 in Ridgway, PA to Bernard H. Rensel and Maude Waugaman Rensel. He and his younger brothers, William and Richard, were raised on Morrison Street in DuBois, PA. Jack became fascinated by nature when quite young and passed his enthusiasm on to his brothers, taking them hiking and camping. He was graduated from DuBois High School in 1946 and joined the U. S. Army, training in armored warfare at Fort Knox. He served in Korea with the occupation troops.
Jack earned a Master’s degree in biology, with a minor in Wildlife Management and Forestry from Penn State University. It was there that he met the love of his life, Shirley Christine Smith of Oil City, PA. They were married October 3, 1953.
Jack was a game biologist for the state of Kentucky until 1956, when he accepted a position with the Utah Department of Fish and Game. In 1958, he helped divide the state into regions and then became the first Northern Regional Supervisor. He held this position until his retirement in August 1994, but continued to enjoy the camaraderie of retired wildlife biologists at monthly lunches as well as friendships with fish biologists who made Jack an honorary Mossback.
Jack’s job was a source of great joy for him as he traveled the mountains and valleys, deserts and wetlands of Utah with his binoculars and camera. He successfully worked to reestablish elk, antelope, native trout, Rocky Mountain goats, Shiras moose, varieties of partridge, turkey, and ptarmigans. Birds were Jack’s particular favorites, and he roamed North America adding to his life list, but smiled just as big when he found a new feathered visitor in his tree-filled backyard in habitat he developed by planting interesting species, tending his fishponds, and keeping his birdfeeders full. His fascination with birds led him to become a charter member of the Wasatch Audubon Society. He was the first president of the Utah Wildlife Society, a lifetime member of the National Wildlife Society, and a dedicated board member of the Ogden Nature Center, where he spent many enjoyable hours. He loved talking with visitors and people in general. Jack made friends wherever he went— Boy Scout gatherings, diaconate meetings at First Presbyterian, Costco... “Everyone has a story,” he would say.
Take joy when you hear birdsong or see a critter cross your path. Take joy and remember Jack Rensel.
Along with his wife, Jack is survived by his children, Bill and his wife Maria of Fairbanks, AK, Julia Hislop and her husband Dan of Sagle, ID; Jill Dodd and her husband, Terry of Ogden; and 8 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 18 at 11:00 AM at the First Presbyterian Church, 880 28th Street, Ogden.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Ogden Nature Center.
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