Earl Dans Wallace
July 7, 2022
Earl Dans Wallace was born April 2, 1930, in Rock Springs, Wyo. He was the second son born to Curtis L. Wallace and Olive Mildred “Jackie” Stephens Wallace. The family moved to Elk Basin, Wyo., where Earl and his older brother, Curtis, started school. He often spoke about how cold those winters were walking to school. They moved to Lovell shortly after that, and Earl and Curtis finished their schooling there and eventually married.
Earl was athletic and played on Lovell’s basketball team when they took the state championship in the mid-1940s, sinking the winning basket. His summers were spent with his Aunt Esther and Uncle Bud LeClair on their ranch in Lander, Wyo. His fondest memories were of the LeClair family and his numerous cousins. His Uncle Bud offered to send him to college if he would return and work on the LeClair ranch, but Earl’s father was not agreeable to this. Earl informed his father he could either allow that or sign him into the Marine Corp, even though he was only 16. So, Earl became a Marine. By the time he was 19, he had been around the world, seeing most of its seven wonders. Upon discharge, Earl was in the reserves and was soon called up to serve in the Korean War. He switched from the reserves to regular Army at this point and completed his tour of duty. Upon his return from Korea, he earned his GED, completing his high school education. He met and married NaWana Sawyer on August 11, 1952. The remained together until her death on November 11, 2019.
Earl remained in the armed services for the next nine years. His next assignment was at Ft. Lewis, Wash. Earl, NaWana, and four children were transferred to Germany in the mid-1950s, serving for the next two years. Upon his return to the states, Earl was stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas. It was here that he developed an interest in boxing. He was welterweight champion at Ft. Hood, and the sports magazine, Ring, featured an article on him. His boxing skills would serve him well in later years.
Upon leaving the service, Earl found employment as athletic director at Arizona State Prison. He was able to connect with some of the young inmates by teaching them to box. He and his boxing team attended exhibition matches throughout Arizona, and this enabled him to have some positive influence on their lives.
In 1968 the family returned to Lovell. Earl found employment with various employers including Lovell Brick and Tile, Georgia-Pacific, and American Colloid before becoming a police officer in Lovell. Again, youth were his primary concern and he would often spend time riding around with young men talking to them rather than taking them to jail. He remained friends with many of these young men after they became adults.
Earl lost his oldest son, Norman, in a car accident shortly after Norman’s return from serving in Vietnam in 1972. This was a pivotal point in Earl’s life. He and NaWana and youngest son, Mickey, moved to Thermopolis in 1979 where he became active in his church, filling many positions. He especially loved missionary work. His role models were Jake Adolf and Dean Larsen, who taught him many years prior in Lovell. He never forgot them. Earl’s priorities were God, country and family. After his faith, his country was most important to him. He was a true patriot.
After moving to Thermopolis, Earl was employed by a drilling company until they closed their doors. He and NaWana were both then employed by the Children’s Center or BOCES, working with special needs children. He was also “grandparent” at Lucerne school and teacher’s aide in the Thermopolis school system. Again, young people were a primary concern for both him and his wife.
After retiring, Earl and NaWana moved into the Pioneer Home in Thermopolis, where they loved the staff and other residents. They were surrounded by people they loved.
Earl passed away on June 28, 2022, at Thermopolis Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. He was preceded in death by his wife, NaWana; oldest son, Norman; grandson, Shawn Wallace; parents; and older brother, Curtis.
He is survived by his children, Connie (Leslie) Tippetts of Lovell, Earl (Debbie) Wallace of Pocatello, Julie Nebel of Ashburn, Va., and Mickey Wallace of Thermopolis. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. He was loved by his family and will be missed.
Services were held at the Lovell cemetery on Sat., July 2 at 10 a.m.