Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

At 86 He’s Still “The Keeper Of Kintla”

©Bert Gildart: At 86, Lyle Ruterbories has got to be the oldest ranger currently employed by the NPS, and the job was no gift, as this ramrod-straight man believes he must point out.

“I got the job through a competitive examination—just like anyone else,” says the octogenarian.

Lyle is stationed at Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park, working out of the same ranger station at which I worked in 1965 while still in college, and the same one Janie and I visited this past weekend while tent camping at Kintla. In those days, to hold the job, you had to demonstrate the capability of dealing with the public at all levels. As well you had to be able to support fire-fighting efforts, hike trails, operate a chain saw, and operate a boat, among other things.

Not one thing has changed, and about the only difference age has made for Ranger Lyle Ruterbories is that he apparently believes he must work harder than most of the 22-year old rangers that I ever knew.

“People question my ability because of age,” said Lye, “So I try and show them I’m still capable.”

That, of course, translates into some very good news for the National Park Service, which now say Lyle is the “Keeper at Kintla.”

Lyle earned the job through area familiarization as much as anything. For seven years Lyle and his wife Marge worked as VIPs throughout Glacier, the last three at Kintla. In those years they worked out of their motor home, and then came the day in 1993 when his supervisors said they’d finally gotten funds again for a ranger position at Kintla and that he would have to go. “Well, I told them that I wanted to apply, and they wished me good luck.”

Next spring when job announcements rolled around and Lyle hadn’t been notified, he called regional headquarters and inquired about his application. When they told him they couldn’t find it he responded, saying, “Yeah, I bet you can’t find it; you saw the 1920 birth date!

“ ‘No, no,’ ” they said. “ ‘That’s not the case at all. Please send us a copy right away.’

“Well, that’s what I did, and several days later, I got a call saying the job was mine. They also said that Marge, my wife, would stay on, too, as a VIP.”

Lyle may have the perfect background to serve as the Keeper of Kintla. As a young man, Lyle was a certified journey man, sheet metal. But employers recognized his skill handling people and he was soon supervising 22 men in his job with Beechcraft. The ranger station (as I well remember) requires that you heat water and maintain the cabin, though it has changed a bit. Today, Lyle has solar panels which operate two gel batteries. That’s the energy for the emergency radio.

Lyle says the position was perfect for him and his wife, but tragically, fate intervened.

“Read this,” says Lyle. “It was my wife’s last entry.”

“October 14th. Leaving Kintla for another year. Just paradise on earth. And that’s it.”

“We got back home to Colorado,” says Lyle a bit wistfully, “last year on October  21st she died of a massive stroke. But she’d wouldn’t want me to say home and wallow in sorrow; she’d want me back here, where we enjoyed life so much together, and hopefully helped maintain this beautiful site.

“Marge’s last entry says it all. It’s where Marge and I may have been the happiest. So count on me coming back as long as I can. ”

For us campers, interested in a quality experience, that’s very good news.

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CLICK TO SEE WHAT WE’RE NOW DOING — THREE YEARS LATER:

*The Park that Made a President

 

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11 Responses to “At 86 He’s Still “The Keeper Of Kintla””

  1. Erik Nelson Says:

    Way to go grandpa! I’m proud of you and so excited to stumble across this article today! I’m glad you get to do what you love! I’m praying for you and love you!

    Erik Nelson

  2. Gabe Cohen Says:

    We love Lyle too! Camped at Kintla with friends back in June of 2007. Immediately fell in love with Ranger Lyle. Such a great man, and a wonderful write up. Thanks!

    A link to our pics with Lyle:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gabecohen/676805112/in/set-72157600574838696/

  3. Chris Nelson Says:

    Just got back from Kintla…Grandpa keeps getting better with age! I’m hoping for another 15 years of the Lyle Ruterbories era.

  4. Jon Cohan Says:

    We just spent 5 days at Kintla Lake (Aug. 8-12, 2008) and Lyle was one of the best things about the campsite! Glacier and the NPS are lucky to have such a resource. We hope Lyle will be there for many more years!

  5. Mike and Terri Stanton Says:

    We are trying to find our if Lyle is at Kintla this season. We are deciding our vacation. Glacier is a LONG drive from Houston, but another visit with Lyle would make it worth our time.

  6. Bert Says:

    I hope he is and, in fact, am trying to find out myself. Will let you know if I learn anything. Thanks, and please do the same if you learn anything.
    Bert

  7. Mike Hobbs Says:

    We had the great pleasure of meeting Lyle when we camped for two nights at Kintla in 2006. We’re planning a return to Glacier National Park this summer, and are hoping to see our favorite ranger again.

  8. Eric Mendelson Says:

    Bert:

    We Montanans just (8/09) got back from several days at Kintla Lake. Lyle is going strong, and still looking and sounding like a man 20 yrs. younger. He is indeed extraordinary and a wonder: like so many other visitors, meeting him was the highlight of our stay at Kintla. I want to thank you for your article. You captured the essence of Lyle beautifully. Has he seen the article? He deserves to. (I’m asking seriously; if he hasn’t, I will mail it to him.)

  9. Jerv Says:

    Hi Bert

    I just spent 2 nights at Kintla and had the honour of talking with Lyle about his lifes and times – what an interesting and inspiring man. I hope that I am half as able as he is when I am 89!

    He said he is planning on being there next summer when he is 90 for his 20th year at Kintla.

    Thanks for having this!

  10. Luke Says:

    I remember meeting this guy at Kintla a couple years ago. He was really cool, and the lake is probably the most beautiful lake I’ve seen, well, in my opinion. Regardless, Lyle is definitely me favorite ranger!

  11. Chicken Lessons From Along Shade of Death Road | Bert Gildart: Writer and Photographer Says:

    [...] one of my most popular. It’s about the nation’s oldest serving National Park Ranger, Lyle Ruterbories . He works at Kintla Lake, a remote spot in Glacier National [...]

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