(Nov. 10, 2006)
In the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 10, Carrie Jane Gasch, 51, of Cody, died at West Park Hospital in Cody and was born to eternal life.
Born on Sept. 27, 1955 to Don and Elaine Nafus, Carrie was raised in Cody and attended kindergarten and grade school, growing up with many friends and family members. She graduated from Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colo., where her dad was working for Husky Oil Company.
While living in Littleton, she attained many long-lasting relationships and was so well liked that she was voted homecoming queen. In 1974, her dad was transferred back to Cody, and Carrie became a student at Northwest College (NWC) in Powell and spent her spare time skiing and working for her cousins at The King's Castle as hostess.
In 1976, Carrie met the love of her life, Kenny Gasch, and they were married July 1, 1977. She then became entrenched in the community as a giver and philanthropist of time, talents, and money.
In 1985, Carrie and a business associate, Kaye Simonton, purchased and ran an exclusive women's clothing store called The Real Thing. Although Carrie and Kaye sold the business in 1988, local women still miss The Real Thing and Carrie's fashion expertise.
She then worked as a teacher's assistant at Eastside Elementary School under the tutelage of Mary Anne McGee, who was already a dear friend.
During the fires of 1988 that burned in Yellowstone Park and the upper Crandall Country, Carrie was at the nerve center of Red Cross relief operations in the Law Enforcement Center for days on end.
She took a hiatus to spend time raising her children, Leif and Caley, which, to her, was the most important job. After her children were in school and she felt comfortable, she was selected out of 67 applicants to become the executive secretary to the director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, Paul Hoffman.
After one and a half years of employment at the chamber, her love for retail could not be suppressed, and she returned to the clothing business for Mary Ackerman at The Plush Pony. During her employment at The Plush Pony, her passion and energy of philanthropy spurred her to co-chair a committee to raise the funds for a new recreation center, which had been sadly defeated in a bond issue in a recent general election. Carrie would not take no for an answer, and she inspired an entire community to coordinate and raise nearly $3 million in two years to build and maintain one of the premier recreation centers in the state of Wyoming. Being the humble person she was, she conveniently scheduled herself to be out of town during the center's dedication ceremony.
Due to the outstanding results of her work on the fundraising, she was approached by NWC to become part of their foundation team and accepted the job as Director of Alumni and Annual Giving. This was a good choice by the college, and they knew it.
Carrie's belief, long before any Hollywood movie, was to pay it forward, rather than waiting to repay goodness received. With that philosophy, her contributions to NWC are greatly appreciated by many and far too numerous to mention.
Her affliction of cancer only deepened her faith in God and her love of her family and community. It is the family’s firm belief that Carrie lived long beyond the time that medical professionals thought she would live, only to see the community pass the 1 percent capital tax in the recent election.
Carrie was active in a local PEO chapter, the Episcopal church, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Patron's Ball committee, Education for Ministry, chairman for the Cody Recreation Center Board of Directors, the Wyoming Episcopal Diocese, among numerous other events and organizations. Carrie lived her life in abundance, and above and beyond all else, her greatest joys of life were her family and friends. Her mother, Elaine Nafus, preceded Carrie in death.
She is survived by her husband, Kenny Gasch of Cody; her son, Leif Gasch and friend Lindsay Dunnum of Lander; her daughter and son-in-law, Caley Gasch Salava and Matthew Salava of Laramie; her father, Don Nafus of Billings; her sister and brother-in-law. Laurie and Dewey Farmer of Washington, Utah; her aunts, Phyllis Mercer of Billings and Babe Martoglio of Cody; and many other relatives.
It was Carrie's parting wish that in lieu of flowers and food, donations be directed to establishing an endowment for a nursing scholarship at NWC in her memory.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, Nov. 17 at Christ Episcopal Church in Cody at 3 p.m. Due to her Greek heritage, a large celebration of her life will immediately follow at The Terrace.