Laurel William Kinnison, 88, of Sheridan, WY died Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Greenhouse Living for Sheridan.
Laurel was born May 23, 1925 in Reading, Kansas. He was the youngest of 6 boys and 2 girls. His family moved to Wyoming when Laurel was 8 years old and he attended school in Buffalo.
When Laurel was 17 years old, he enlisted in the Navy during WWII. He served as a radioman and tail gunner on a torpedo plane in the Navy Air Force and his squadron flew patrols up the Alaskan coast. Following his honorable discharge from the Navy, he returned to his home in Buffalo, WY.
Laurel loved to dance, and one Saturday night at a country dance in Clearmont, he met Jean Anne Stiffler. Impressed with her dancing ability, they danced together most of the night. Laurel taught Jean the California Swing and in later years they won several Jitterbug contests together. Laurel and Jean were married May 10, 1947 in Red Lodge, MT and recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. After owning the Dixie Cream Donut shop in Red Oak, IA for several years, Laurel and his growing family moved back to Buffalo where he worked at Alabam's store selling groceries, souvenirs, tires and gasoline. In 1954, Laurel and Jean purchased the Trails End Motel in Sheridan, which they owned for nearly 40 years. Over the years, they turned the Trails End Motel from 12 log cabins into a motel with 83 rooms, restaurant, lounge and the first indoor swimming pool in Sheridan. In 1976, Laurel was honored as the Wyoming Small Business Person of the Year and was flown to Washington D.C. to be honored by President Ford. In addition to his success as a businessman, he also served as a board member of both the First Wyoming Bank and Key Bank.
Laurel loved to hunt and fish, ride his snowmobile and travel in his motor home with Jean after they sold the motel in 1994. He was a member of Masonic Anchor Lodge No.7 in Buffalo, the Scottish Rite, Kalif Shrine, Royal Order of Jesters, Order of Eastern Star, Sheridan Elks Lodge and the American Legion.
Laurel is survived by his wife Jean; his children Tom Kinnison (wife Sharon), Allan Kinnison (wife Barbee), Tami Davis (husband Richard); grandchildren Brian Kinnison (wife Shelley), Janelle Coon (husband Justin), Chelsey Roberts (husband Lynn), Jesse Kinnison (wife Lynne), AO. Kinnison, Justin Stroup, Colin Stroup and Caitlin Stroup; great-grandchildren Cloie, Sammie, Marissa, Alexander, Dylan, Lauren and Noah.
Memorials in Laurel's memory may benefit the Kalif Shrine Children's Travel Fund in care of Rick Badgett, Recorder Box K Sheridan, WY 82801.
Memorial service will be held Friday June 14, 2013 at 10:00am at the Kalif Shrine with officers of the Masonic Lodge officiating. Committal of cremains will follow at the Elks section of the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery. Military rites are by the American Legion and Wyo. National Guard. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.