"Better to live one day as a tiger, than one thousand years as a sheep." Tibetan Proverb
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Wilson Kyle Ritchey died in Bozeman on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. He was born in the old Bozeman hospital on Oct. 23, 1983. Kyle lived in West Yellowstone until 1999, at which time he and his family moved to Bozeman.
He attended Bozeman Senior High School, and was also educated at a traveling school for two years, taking him to Thailand, England, France and Spain. He received a quality education while traveling, and also learned much about the world, studying various cultures which became a lifelong obsession.
He also attended the National Outdoor Leadership School, traveling to Kenya in Africa where he and his classmates climbed Mt. Kenya. He became fascinated with the Masai culture, made many Masai friends and particularly loved the Masai art. He also traveled to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Bali and South America, where he was immersed in the Argentine culture while studying Spanish.
Wherever he traveled in the world, Kyle fell in love with the natives and their culture, always admiring their diversity, art and creativity. No trip to any country was complete for Kyle without making many native friends along the way.
He earned a scholarship to Westminster College in Salt Lake City in the School of Aviation and Aeronautics, and attended college there from 2004 to 2009. Among many other things, he became a certified commercial and instrument-rated pilot. At the time of his death, he was working toward becoming a certified flight instructor.
Perhaps nothing interested Kyle more than nature and the outdoors in general. He was a member of the Big Sky Ski Team for many years, and after his racing career he continued to ski at every opportunity. While living in Salt Lake City, he fell in love with Alta and skied there at every opportunity, especially when there was new powder snow. He was one of the best and most daring free skiers on any mountain.
Kyle started fly fishing at the age of 4. During his years as a fisherman, he was fascinated by all aspects of trout and their habitat, and was particularly interested in etymology and stream ecology. Over the years, he became an outstanding fisherman and expert tier of flies.
With his family, Kyle started floating rivers at an early age. By his early 20s, he could be trusted to drive any boat through any whitewater and come out right side up on the other end. He was an intrepid and fearless boatman who always looked after his fellow boatmen and passengers. He was a pure joy on any river trip. He also loved climbing, scuba diving, cross country skiing, camping, hiking and backpacking. He loved anything to do with being outside. His kind and enormous heart will be missed by everyone he touched.
Kyle loved and was loved by so many, his death leaves a trail of tears that will stretch around the world. He is survived by his parents, David and Sue Ritchey; his brother, Keanan and sister-in-law, Whitney; aunts and uncles, Steve and Ingrid Ritchey, Jeanie and Tim Sullivan, Joe and Andrea Combs; cousins too numerous to mention; and a world of good friends.
A celebration of Kyle's life will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at Dahl Funeral Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in his name to the Haitian Relief Fund, through the American Red Cross c/o Bozeman Chapter, 300 N. Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715-3551.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 8, 2010