Obituary: Ronald Grant Worl

Courtesy photo

Ronald Grant Worl, 84, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 17, 2022, at his home in Brunswick, Ga. He was born Jan. 16, 1938, in Dunlap, Iowa, to Carl and Ethelyne Worl. Ronnie led a varied and active childhood, including building a tree house, racing his Soap Box Derby car, playing baseball, riding horses, helping at his father’s service station and feeding the pigs on the family farm. He earned money by delivering papers, growing watermelons and detasseling corn.

In 1951, Ronnie’s family moved to Pinedale, Wyo. He soon became known to his new friends as Squirrel Worl, but to his family and others he was called Ronald and eventually just Ron. Ron participated in basketball, football, Future Farmers of America and other school clubs.  He embraced the outdoor life of Wyoming and enjoyed fishing, hunting, pack trips, boating and exploring the mountain and desert areas near Pinedale. Ron helped at his family businesses, Worl’s Ford Service and Camp Wilderness on Fremont Lake. He also worked on several local ranches. For a number of summers, he fought forest fires and maintained trails for the U.S. Forest Service. These jobs taught him numerous skills and a strong work ethic that served him well throughout his life.

After graduating from Pinedale High School, he attended Utah State University, where he received a B.S. degree in geology. Ron continued his study of geology at the University of Wyoming where he earned M.S. and PhD degrees.

Ron had three children from his first marriage to Patricia Lockyer: Christie, Scott and Carl. Ron’s career as a geologist and his family were intertwined and took them all over the world. They learned to enjoy and appreciate the natural and cultural worlds of the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Upon returning from overseas, Ron and family continued their adventures closer to home in Colorado and Wyoming. Ron enjoyed spending time hiking, camping, fishing, exploring and sailing with his children and grandchildren. Teaching them the skills he had learned as a young man was important to him.

Ron’s first job as a geologist was at the iron ore mine north of Atlantic City, Wyo. He taught geology courses at Colorado State University before beginning a 33-year career with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). During his career with the USGS, Ron was involved with numerous major projects. Two of these were in Saudi Arabia. The first was the exploration and mapping of King Solomon’s ancient gold mines. In the second, Ron served as the USGS mission director of a partnership program for the development and implementation of the Saudi Geological Survey. Dearest to his heart was the geology of the Wind River Mountains. These mountains were the subject of his PhD dissertation and many USGS studies, of which he was the head project geologist. After retiring from the USGS, Ron spent 11 years doing private consulting that took him to Africa, Australia and the Middle East. His career provided an outlet for his love of travel, exploration and learning. Ron is credited with a long list of professional publications.

Ron enjoyed traveling with his wife, Alison. They took adventurous trips throughout Saudi Arabia, Africa and Asia. Highlights included having an island in the Red Sea named after Ron, exploring along the “Incense Route” (the world’s oldest trade route) and visiting the ancient city of Angkor Wat. Ron became known and loved by everyone he met along the way.

Fremont Lake was home for Ron’s last summer, where he and Alison volunteered as campground hosts. He thoroughly enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the Wind River Range with campers and telling them his favorite hiking trails and fishing spots. It always thrilled him to run into old friends from Pinedale who he hadn’t seen since childhood. He was truly a force of nature with his capable ways and brilliant mind.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents, son, Ronald Scott Worl, and former wife, Pat Worl. Ron is survived by his wife, Alison of Brunswick, Ga., children, Christie Lambert (Jens) of Huntsville, Ala., and Carl Worl (Alex) of Westminster, Colo., grandchildren, Chelsea and Justin Perez, Michael, Andrew and Tori Worl, great-grandson Rip Worl and stepsons Rob and Michael Huff. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Lynn Worl of Pinedale.

A memorial service is planned for the summer of 2023 in Pinedale. Because Ron was so at home in his natural surroundings, the family asks that memorial donations be made to Friends of Bridger-Teton at or sent to P.O. Box 188, Jackson, WY, 83001.