Cover photo for Melvin Webb's Obituary
Melvin Webb Profile Photo
1950 Melvin 2009

Melvin Webb

October 8, 1950 — August 8, 2009

Wyoming native Melvin Wesley Webb, descendant of late-1800s Wilson homesteaders, and the eldest child of the late Opal (Bircher) and Melvin Webb, died Saturday, August 8, at 58 from cancer. A renowned blacksmith, dedicated sportsman, influential teacher and friend, Webb inspired many with his humble and generous character. Born October 8, 1950 in Kemmer, Wyoming, Webb grew up with his two sisters, Wendy Lyn and Wanda Lee. From Kemmer, the family followed their father's job with the Highway Department, living in Rock Springs, Afton, Casper, Cheyenne, and finally in Wilson. Most summers, the children spent with their grandparents, Wesley and Maude Bircher, on the family homestead just north of Wilson. On this property, settled by Webb's great grandparents, Effie May and Ulysses Grant Foster in the late 1800s, Webb's grandmother Maude was born, May 12, 1903. After marrying Wesley Bircher, Maude, and her husband, ran a sawmill at the base of Teton Pass (Where Webb's mother Opal was born in 1924), then the midway station at the top of Teton Pass servicing the freight wagons traveling over the pass. Then Webb's grandparents purchased part of the Foster homestead, where they continued to live the rest of their lives. Locals remember Webb's grandfather's fine work as a cabin and furniture builder, his grandmother's delicious cooking and extensive community involvement, and the couple's community dance hall called the Jungle. All three Webb children remember their summers in Wilson with their grandparents. They enjoyed exploring the ranch, swimming in Fish Creek, and taking picnics to String Lake and Granite Hot Springs with their grandmother. As a child Webb enjoyed bird hunting and fishing and his grandmother's fine cooking, especially her biscuits and gravy cooked in a cast iron skillet. Later during his high school and college years he continued to spend summers in Jackson, hunting and fishing and enjoying boating on Jackson Lake with friends. After graduating from Cheyenne East High, where Webb lettered in football and wrestling three times each and was named outstanding athlete, he attended Alabama University on a full wrestling scholarship. Webb graduated from Alabama in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. With his degree, he returned to Wyoming to teach shop and coach wrestling. After a short stint in Jackson, he moved to Cheyenne where he taught shop for 17 years at Cheyenne East High. Teachers and students remember Webb for his patience and dedication to his students. He and his friend, Randy Calhoun, also worked hard to establish a welding curriculum for the state, which is still the standard in Wyoming today. In the early ninties, Webb left his teaching post in Cheyenne, moved back to Wilson where both his sisters were living, and opened his own Blacksmith shop, Fish Creek Iron Works, on his family homestead property. For nearly 20 years, his shop buzzed with activity as he met the booming demand for western chandeliers, fire screens, signs, and railings. His work, never signed, is everywhere you look in Jackson. His iron chandeliers hang in Jackson's posh Snake River Grill, in The Cowboy Bar restaurant, numerous homes in the valley, and of course at Nora's Fish Creek Inn, a log building built by his grandfather, Wesley Bircher. Always a teacher, he gave his employees creative license in his shop; many went on to open their own successful businesses in the valley. A dedicated sportsman, Webb always found time to pursue bird hunting and fishing with friends. He loved fishing on Jackson Lake, dove hunting in Idaho, pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and steelhead fishing in Canada. Besides being a great hunting companion, friends remember him as the man with every kind of hunting gadget, all kinds of camo clothing, and a shed-full of gear. In 2008, Webb shined as a sportsman when Duck's Unlimited awarded him Sportsman of the Year for his dedication to this organization and to duck hunting. Over the years, he never missed a banquet, always donated something to the auction, and encouraged young people to get involved. In the field his passion and camaraderie with friends set an example for others. For years, Webb's diverse collection of friends, a testament to his easy-going demeanor and is involvement in this community, circled around him for his daily breakfast at 8 a.m. at Nora's Fish Creek Inn or his noon lunch also at Nora's. Those who gathered around Webb were leaders in the design and the sports industry, locals, and out-of-towners. Webb was also a regular at the Saturday morning breakfast club at Nora's, a weekly poker game, and "Wednesday Nights with Wes," regular movie nights he enjoyed with his friend Sandi Turner. "He was just easy to be with," said friend Bill Klyn. In the last six-months of his life, Webb lived life to the fullest, hunting and fishing with friends and, of course, hanging out with his friends at Nora's. His friends called him their brother, an easy guy to be with, a generous man. "He'd give the shirt of his back," said his friend for 30 years Roger Shanor. "For a guy who didn't talk much he communicated with a lot of people," Dukes Murray says. Webb is survived by his sisters, Wanda Lee (51) and Wendy Lynn (55). He was preceded in death by his parents Opal and Melvin Webb. His graveside service was held Thursday, August 13 at Elliot Cemetery in Wilson. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Webb's name to Duck's Unlimited.


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