He attended Cody schools and graduated from Cody High School in 1956. He joined the Navy in 1957 where he attained the rank of Petty Officer Second Class in Naval Aviation-Electronics. After his honorable discharge in 1961, he attended Northwest Community College and then went on to the University of Wyoming College of Law, earning his law degree in 1965.
Joe moved to Powell for a short time after law school practicing civil law, but from 1967 to 1969 he worked at the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office in Cheyenne. He then moved back to Powell to begin his own civil practice with John T. Dixon, and served as secretary to the Wyoming State Bar early in his career. Later, Joe served as Deputy County Attorney for a short time and was elected and served as Park County Attorney from 1975 to 1983. Joe continued his private civil practice in Powell and had quite an extensive trial background, litigating many cases in Wyoming, as well as Idaho, Utah and Montana. In 2008, after 43 years of serving his clients, Joe retired from the practice of law.
Joe was affectionately known as a “Cody boy.” He was always opening doors or pulling out chairs for the ladies and always stressed good table manners.
He had many passions in life. Joe loved to travel and he and his wife, Tracy, tried to go on as many trips as possible. They went to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bonaire, Seattle, Sacramento, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Idaho, Oregon, Hawaii, Texas and New York. But Joe’s favorite getaway was Alaska because he loved to fish there, as that was also his passion.
Joe also was an avid fly fisherman and enjoyed the outings with his friends ice fishing. It was well known that if you wanted someone to test the ice, Joe would be the first one to try, and occasionally fall in.
Joe truly loved the days when he had his own airplane and took many family members and friends on trips or simply for a ride. He once took his dad on a most memorable trip to view the South Fork and the area where the old Darrah sawmill once was.
Joe was also known for his wonderful ability to cook and he loved to entertain. He was never happier than when he was out on the patio barbecuing something. All of his family and friends can attest to the fact that he mastered the kitchen. Joe loved to try new restaurants and enjoyed sharing his favorites with friends and family.
Some of Joe’s other passions included collecting Vivi Crandall and James Bama artwork, listening to jazz music, eating dark chocolate and pie and, of course, watching the Yankees. On his birthday in 2009, Tracy and Joe went to see the Yankees play Boston at the new Yankee stadium. Joe also was passionate about baseball and he enjoyed many years coaching Little League and playing recreation softball and basketball.
Joe loved bird hunting as it was one of many activities he shared with his family and friends. He mostly cherished every fishing trip to Alaska.
Joe loved helping people, be it in the courtroom or just in general. He was a very kindhearted soul and always the perfect gentleman.
Joe will be fondly remembered as a loving husband and proud father and grandfather. He also cherished every moment he could spend with family. Joe and Tracy had so many great days together, just not enough years, but what they had was love.
Joe also was a proud member of the Powell Volunteer Fire Department, and served 20 years as a fireman before retiring. His fellow firemen elected him Fire Chief from 1984 to 1985.
He had been a member of the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Jaycees, Eagles and attained a lifetime membership with the Powell Elks Lodge. Joe was also very proud of his involvement with organizing the Moyer Foundation and was president of the foundation until his retirement in 2008.
Joe is survived by his wife, Tracy; sons Joey (Cathy) Darrah, Chad (K.C.) Darrah, Hud Darrah and step-son Neal (Jordan) Simpson; daughters Dorri Reimer and Ashli (Chris) Brown; grandchildren Tucker Darrah, Josie Darrah, Chris (Gina) Sheets, Casey (Alexa) Sheets, Cooper Darrah, Carter Darrah, Cole Brown, Kaiden Brown, Laicee Brown and Bryce Simpson; sisters Sandi Reynolds (and Q), Linda Lohrenz and Liz (Tom) Nissen.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents Hank Darrah and Mabel Darrah, and a brother, Jack Darrah.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Powell. Joe’s family invites memorial donations to either the Powell Valley Home Health-Hospice or the Powell Elks Club Scholarship fund.
Thompson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements and condolences may be sent to the family at www.thompsonfuneral.net or P.O. Box 807, Powell, WY 82435.