Paul Pilch

Paul left this world surrounded by some of his favorite things.  He carefully packed his fishing pole, binoculars, Metroline dart set, big candle belonging to his girlfriend, photo albums, and framed photographs of his son and mom and himself enjoying family activities.  He carried them to his backyard and sat them down. With a black marker he wrote good-bye messages on the glass of the pictures.  While looking through a gap in his trees to view Keyhole Reservoir where he frequently fished from his boat, Paul, age 53, chose to move beyond this life.

At age 18, Paul had become fascinated by the Egyptian practice of gathering possessions to accompany one into the afterlife after climbing into Cheops Pyramid through the tomb raiders’ entrance at Giza, Egypt, and later, descending into King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

When Paul embarked on his European and Egyptian summer, he had just graduated from Tongue River High School in Dayton, Wyoming, in 1985. 

After returning to Wyoming, he briefly attended Sheridan College. Then in 1987, he headed for the West Coast, making it as far as Lake Tahoe to work construction and ski, ski, ski. During the next four years, Paul lived in Reno working at Color Tile and driving a cab, but decided to move on to California after unexpectedly coming home early from work one afternoon and finding his male roommate wearing a short negligee and Ostrich feather slippers.  The Wyoming country boy migrated to Hollywood, still with Color Tile. Later moves were to Sacramento and Denver.

After city life lost its allure, Paul returned to Sheridan County. In his mid teens Paul had developed a strong work ethic, starting at Groshart’s Amsden Creek Ranch, which lasted his lifetime. In home territory he held a series of jobs in construction, radio, and you name it.  Finally, he attended technical school in Billings, Montana, graduated and worked long term for a pay phone company until the invasion of cell phones.

He married Kristi Petty on the Big Horn Mountains in June of 1999. Their only child, Scott Thomas, was born in July of 2000 in Gillette, after coal mining lured him away from the Sheridan area. Paul and Kristi later divorced.

Until 2018, he ran equipment at the Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines.  At the end of his coal career, he bought a place with acreage in Pine Haven near the shore of Keyhole Reservoir, primarily to live close to the fish, since those little, or big, swimmers called to his Swedish genes.  And, wow, he prepared them as well as a five-star chef.

At the time of his death, Paul was employed by the local NAPA dealer in Sundance.

In addition to annually hunting elk, deer, and antelope with his son Scott, he loved the Denver Broncos, fishing, mountain camping, coaching Scott in Little League, the Broncos, attending concerts, golfing, hanging out with Scott, visiting his “brothers” Tom and Rollie, four-wheeling, the Broncos, snowmobiling, playing pool and throwing darts (at which he excelled in state and regional competitions).  And the Broncos!

If you needed a laugh, Paul would fill the bill with his antics, a regular Jim Carrey with his facial contortions, awkward dancing, strutting, joke-telling, etc.  With his Popeye imitations, he convinced Scott at age two that broccoli would make him a strong, funny man like his dad.  It did. Scott grew to 6’3”, meeting his dad eye to eye.

Paul was a kind, loving human being, forgiving others who had deeply wronged him.  He genuinely liked people. He was generous with smiles and hugs and always said, “I love you,” to his family and friends when saying goodbye. Always.

Too late we realized the depth of Paul’s depression.  Too many years of Adderall for his ADD, of shift work at his mining job, and of self-medicating with alcohol slowly undid his ability to cope and resolve to live.  Learn from Paul’s tragedy!

Paul is survived by his son Scott Thomas Pilch (his only child), his mom Mary Gin Scott, step-dad Cliff Niner, partner Jeannie Tarrant, life-long best friends Tom Badgett, Rollie Hruza, and Vince Hytrek; special friend Shona Earle, Grandmother Barbara Niner, cousin Dani (Derrick) Haakinson and Curt (Cathy) Niner.  He was fathered by Rod Pilch of Alaska and has two half-siblings, Brian (Megan) and Toni Pilch, not seen since childhood.  Grandpa Charlie Scott (he called him Dad) and neighbor/mentor Bill Allen helped raise Paul the most.

He was preceded in death by grandparents Greta and Charlie Scott, Ruth Jackson of Arkansas and step-grandfather Jim Niner.  Also, a special friend, Kassy Lawrence.

Paul has been cremated and a celebration of his life will be announced in the spring of 2021 after the grass turns green, and we are vaccinated against the coronavirus. It will be held in the family field behind Gin and Cliff’s home in Dayton.                

Sentiments for Paul may be written at Memorial donations may be sent to Crook County Search and Rescue Fund, PO Box 339, Sundance, WY 82729 or Sheridan Area Search and Rescue, PO Box 993, Sheridan, WY 82801 or an organization of your choice.


  1. I did not know Paul, but he sounds like a wonderful, loving man who hid his pain too well. Prayers to the family and my deepest respect for sharing the truth of what happened so that others may learn from your tragedy. Sometimes we just cannot see the truth until it is too late. May you find healing in time.

  2. Gin, what beautiful honesty in your obit for Paul. Yes, we must learn from others and you have courageously put the truth out for all to know. My children and I share your deep pain at the loss of Paul and pray for comfort and peace to come to you, Scott and Cliff.

  3. Gin that was a beautifully honest and touching tribute to your dear Paul. I think of you often, and I hope that all the warm thoughts and prayers spoken for your family and wrap you in a blanket of love and peace. I am so, so sorry you’re going through this.

  4. Gin
    I’m so sorry for the terrible loss of Paul!
    All of us Groshart’s have nothing but great memories of Paul!

  5. As most people know Paul and I were close friends in high school. We hunted, camped, fished, and worked for Dawson Case flipping hay bales more then once. We had the distinction of being cut off the basketball team at the same time and then going to the mountains to play and shot guns and bow. We have played softball together and always went out of our way to make sure we recognized each other with a hug or a hand shake. I consider Paul my brother from another mother and my preferred duck hunting bud. I will truly miss him and will remember all the good, while refusing to define him by his demons and extend an helping hand to his son if he ever needs it. My long lost but not forgotten TRHS brother RIP.

  6. I also did not know Paul but he sounds like a wonderful caring man. I am so sorry for your loss and heart ache. May God keep you, your family and especially his son forever by his side.

  7. Paul was one of the kindest most fun loving people I’ve ever known and I miss him. My heart and thoughts are with you Gin.

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