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08092012 In Memoriam: Edna Kennell
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In Memoriam: Edna Kennell

Longtime WTIC member and Wyoming Tourism supporter Edna Kennell's passing June 29 saddened our entire membership. She will be remembered for her tireless work in many areas of the state's tourism industry, especially for founding the Historic Trails Center in Casper. Here is the obituary from the Casper Star-Tribune:

Edna was born on January 15, 1930 in Buffalo, Wyoming to Carl and Mary Voiles. She is survived by six children; eleven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Her children are Kathleen Menke of Haines, AK; David Kennell of McCall, ID; Michelle Kennell of Atlanta, GA; Diane Drew of Wimberley, TX; Dan Kennell of Casper, WY; and Don Kennell of Santa Fe, NM.

Edna instilled a great sense of adventure, independence, an appetite for life and a love for family and friends in her children. Edna passed on her love of fly-fishing to her children, though not always her great skill. Each of her children have embarked on their own lives and attribute so much of who they are to her.

Edna graduated from Johnson County High School in 1948. Her yearbook describes her as a “peppy girl who has fun where ever she goes.” This apt description was true her entire life. She attended the University of Montana. Edna worked for the telephone company as a switchboard operator in Missoula, and then in Casper.

In 1960, Edna married James E. Kennell in Buffalo, WY. They were married for 43 years until his death in 2004. They began their family in Casper, then moved to Denver and Houston before settling back in Casper in 1980. While in Houston, Edna started her own travel business called Travel Marketing Associates. She was an avid traveler who visited Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe.

Back in Casper, Edna became a tireless promoter of the City. She worked for the Downtown Casper Association and the Casper Chamber of Commerce. From 1986 to 1994, Edna worked with the Casper Historic Preservation Commission, serving as its Chairwoman from 1991 to 1994.

Edna was a woman with a broad vision and deep respect for the historical significance of the city and the state where she lived. She was very active in the Oregon-California Trails Association. She served OCTA in various capacities as a National Board member and as the State Director for Wyoming. She loved to go on OCTA sponsored treks re-visiting the journeys of our ancestors.

In the late 1980’s, Edna began meeting with like-minded individuals with the dream of building a National Historical Trails Center in Casper. The project began in earnest in 1989 and raising the necessary funding took over a decade. She worked countless hours soliciting support from state officials, private citizens, national politicians, federal agencies, business owners and city administrators. Raising the required ten million dollars to build the facility, Edna forged a unique partnership between the BLM, the City of Casper and the Historic Trails Foundation. She was also instrumental in raising the funds to create an endowment for the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Her efforts were acknowledged by President George W. Bush for “preserving a vital part of American history.

After her retirement, she traveled with her close companion, Ray Brubaker visiting her family and national historic sites. Edna continued her crusade to save significant historical places of interest.

She is loved and will be missed by many.

To honor Edna Kennell, please send donations to the Edna Kennell Memorial, c/o National Historic Trails Foundation, P.O. Box 397, Casper, WY 82602.

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