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Edwin ‘Rocky’ Curtis Rockwell Jr.

July 1, 2014

Edwin ‘Rocky’ Curtis Rockwell Jr.

Born Sept. 19, 1920 to Edwin “Ned” Curtis Rockwell and Jessie Guild Rockwell at the New York City Hospital. He lived there until the age of 2. The family then moved to Brandon, Vt. where Rocky would learn the joy of hiking, photography, and being a prankster. He spent countless hours in the woods hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. He would always have a camera or two with him. After graduating from Brandon High School, he attended Kimball Union Academy for a year and then entered the University of Maine to study Forestry.
His college plans were interrupted thanks to Uncle Sam’s World War II draft. He was in the 10th Mountain Division of the Army as part of the Ski Troops.
He trained at Camp Hale, then stationed in the Aleutian Islands. The Army Powers thought there would be a higher causality rate there than in Italy but as Rocky told it, “while we were slipping on to the Island on one side, the Japanese were slipping off on the other side with tea still in the cups.”
After being discharged from the military he returned to the University of Maine and finished his degree. During the summers, he would intern with the Forest Service out west in California. He fell in the love with the Sierra Nevada mountains and the high desert. When he graduated, he made the move a permanent one.
In 1955 he met Lucretia “Tish” Melvin on a blind date through mutual friends. After one weekend of dating and a summer of writing to each other, she traveled across the country to meet him in Mammoth. On the first night there, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. They had 57 years together on this earth before his “best pal” was taken from him.
Tish and Rocky spent the first years of their marriage in Mammoth Lakes where Tish was the cook in the winter for Mammoth Mountain and dispatcher for the Forest Service in the summer. Rocky was a Forester in the summer and the Snow Ranger for Mammoth Mountain, the first one they had ever had, so the story goes.
Rocky was part of the Snow Ranger team for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. He also was the guy who climbed up the towers at night to grease the cable wheels so the ski lift could run smoothly the next day. The couple moved to Bishop in 1963 to get out of the snow when a permanent job opened up in the Bishop Forest Service office. Rocky lived the rest of his years in Bishop. He was a great historian for all the hiking spots in the White/Inyo Mountains and the Sierra Nevada although he preferred the dry mountains because “there were less people”. The last hiking trip he took he was 89 years old, which he shared with his daughter, son, and granddaughter.
Rocky spent much of his career exploring the Bristlecone pines of the Inyo Mountains, and searching for new groves in Mexico with Dr. Dana Bailey from the University of Colorado, Dr. Ferguson from the University of Arizona, and fellow hiker Bill Horn.
He was the liaison between the Forest Service and the movie industry, which loved the Bishop area due to the scenery and the close proximity to Hollywood. Stories told by Rocky include one company that wanted them to cut down a tree because it was in the wrong place for the scene. He responded that the tree was going to be there long after they were gone so find a different place for the scene.
After retiring from the Forest Service, he and Tish started the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association which is still in existence today. The couple traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada.
He is survived by his daughter, Judy; his son, Brad; and daughter-in-law, Christina. He is also survived by grandchildren, Jennifer, Garrett, Daryl and his wife Kazia. He has one great-grandson, Jensen, with another great grandchild due in August.
In the last few months of his life, he said “I just want to be with my wife” and now he has joined her. The family is sure that they are together, going on adventures again. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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