Lake Mts
Official Obituary of

Ronald Gillett

August 15, 1940 ~ March 21, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old

Ronald Gillett Obituary

     March 21st, 2024 our beloved husband, father, and grandfather Ronald Earle Gillett, 83, (most recently) of Hagerman, Idaho passed away peacefully after a rapid decline in health.  And in doing so left our hearts broken.

     A proud native son of Idaho, Ron was born on August 15th, 1940 in Buhl to Robert “Earle” and Jacquelin “Jackie” Jessie (Neal) Gillett.  He was raised as their only child. 

     During his eighth-grade year, Ron moved with his parents who purchased a ranch in Hailey, Idaho along Broadford Road south of what is now the airport.  He would have an idyllic life growing up in the Wood River Valley attending high school, making lasting friends, fishing, hunting of all kinds (occasionally skipping school to do so), and becoming an exceptional skier while his dad oftentimes helped work and maintain the ski lifts when not farming and ranching.  These pastimes would become some of Ron’s favorite throughout his lifetime, while adding more along the way and sharing these with his kids.

     After graduating high school in 1958, Ron started his college career as a freshman at Idaho State University, eventually transferring to Utah State to finish his Bachelor of Science double majoring in Social Studies and Physical Education in 1965.  While finishing his undergraduate studies, he and his best friend from high school supported themselves by starting a mobile cleaning company out of a ’47 Chevrolet white-paneled truck.  It was during this time cleaning inside homes and businesses, that Ron began to come across—and develop a keen eye for—cowboy antiques and western memorabilia. 

     After finishing college, he started off his career by first hiring on at Jerome High School as a Social Studies teacher, and as the freshman basketball coach and assistant football coach.  This began a progressive series of professional opportunities teaching social studies/history and coaching basketball at high schools in places like Buhl, Aberdeen, and Holladay, Utah.  He was head basketball coach at Aberdeen, coaching his varsity team to a 24-4 record, and taking them to state while there.  Players on that team recall, “He was an incredible teacher and coach.  He was always ‘in it to win it’ every day of his life.” And “Coach Gillett was our greatest cheerleader.  He corrected us and even put us in our place when needed, but he praised us and was so excited for our successes as a team.”

     During this time, Ron looked for adventure over the summer months while not teaching.  In the summer of 1968, he and his long-time friend decided to hop into Ron’s old Volkswagen beetle and make the drive to Petersburg Island, Alaska and work on a commercial salmon fishing boat called the Bellboy in a crew of six plus the captain.  It was physically exhausting work with everyone spending 18–20-hour days in dangerous conditions and a rowdy ship where tempers flared and the occasional knuckle sandwich was served up.  The Idaho boys more than held their own with the Alaska crew.  By the end of the summer, upon leaving Alaska, both Ron and his friend had each earned in just 3 months the equivalent of a full year teacher’s salary which in 1968 was $6,000.

     For the summer of 1969, Ron had the opportunity to go on a teaching exchange to Sydney, Australia during their winter months where he continued to make enormous impact on young lives in the classroom and on the court.  And when he finally returned to the States, his absence in Australia was sorely felt by faculty and students alike.  Said one student in a letter mailed to him, “Please next time you have your summer holiday try to come back to Australia and visit us at Picnic Point High School again ‘cause you’re the most welcome visitor we’ll ever have.”  A faculty colleague wrote him, “Dear Ron, I’ve been plagued by kids ever since you left to get you back to teach them.”  In life, Ron never mentioned to his loved ones how much he touched the lives of those kids a half world away and has since only become evident to us through the discovery of multiple saved letters.

     In 1971, Ron earned his master’s degree at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah majoring in Physical Education—Athletics, and minoring in Education Administration.  Not a member of BYU’s sponsoring faith, he was somewhat of a peculiarity.  Of this time, Ron would say he was always treated well and loved the free Wednesday night home cooked dinners he and his roommates would never miss at the local church.  To support himself during his graduate studies, he taught skiing lessons nearby at Sundance ski resort.

     Upon finishing his graduate degree, he continued to teach and coach high school basketball for Minico and Burley High schools.  It was at Burley that as head coach he took his team to state championships during a season of packed gyms where people were almost hanging from the rafters to see the games.

     It was also during this time that Ron discovered a new passion during the summers—whitewater rafting and commercial guiding.

     Ron started as a hired river guide in 1970, working for Eldon Handy’s Expedition Whitewater Company on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River where, in 1972, the going rate for a six-day float trip was $285 per guest.  Scratching that entrepreneur’s itch, it wasn’t long before Ron had his eye on owning and operating his own river outfit.  With a lot of grit and vision, and significant support from his parents Earle and Jackie, in 1975 he bought a two-acre bare piece of property on the west end of Stanley, Idaho from which to base his operation.  Triangle C Ranch Whitewater Float Expeditions was born.  Using a 1953 Ford truck that Earle converted into a massive log crane, Ron and crew cut their own logs, skidded them, hauled them, and hand-peeled them—eventually erecting 13 log buildings that included a shop for the river equipment, a bunk house for guides, a house for himself and family, and 10 log cabin rentals. 

     In 1988, Ron pulled off his greatest sales pitch, convincing the love of his life Linda to join him at Triangle C Ranch where she managed the cabin rentals and ran a successful catering business for the duration of their time there.  Over the 35+ years of running both the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Upper Main Salmon, as well as the cabins rentals, the business helped forged friendships between the Gillett Family and many guides, employees, and guests that have passed through Triangle C.  He also served in leadership roles for the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association, the regulating body for the industry in the state.

     Ron championed balancing both tourism and conservation of the Stanley area in which he lived and operated.  Often this entailed opposing federal government overreach—and he never backed down from a challenge.  In 1998, he was invited to prepare a statement in front of a U.S. Senate Committee for Energy & Natural Resources in Washington D.C, defending the rights of outfitters and small business owners to operate responsibly on the Salmon River.  A lover of the big game herds of Idaho, Ron also opposed the unilateral reintroduction of wolves into the state and spent years galvanizing a grass-roots effort of Idaho citizens to enact laws that would allow for wolf populations to be managed through hunting and predator tag programs.  Anything Ron believed in; he threw his whole heart into.  You could comment on the nice day, and he’d steer the conversation to wolf legislation.

     Ron’s passion for cowboy antiques and western memorabilia intensified.  Even after Ron and Linda retired to Hagerman, Idaho from the river business in Stanley, he continued to amass a collection and reputation as the foremost expert on high-end spurs, chaps, bits, bridles, saddles, and guns of the cowboy era.  True to his history teacher beginnings, he would give interested listeners a tour of his collection, and a master class in western collectibles and history, his eyes lighting up and the passion evident in his voice the entire time.

     His children cherish memories growing up learning to ski, hunt, fish, and run the river with him.  Accompanying him on cross-country drives around the West in search of cowboy collectibles, or delivering restored wagons to buyers, and attending antique shows and auctions are some of our best memories with him.

     Ron was predeceased by his mother Jacquelin Neal Gillett, who died July 4th, 1984; and his father Robert “Earle” Gillett, who died December 10th, 2010.

     He is survived by his wife - Linda Jo [Brownlee] Gillett, as well as his children from previous marriages—son Josh Gillett, daughters Larke Gillett and Colt Gillett.  Also step-children who he treated as his own—Bill Sargent, Adam Sargent, Madelon Gerety, Cortney Gillett.  Sons - and daughters-in-law:  Gary Adams, Mike Gerety, Cathi Sargent, Nichole Sargent, and Mary Gillett.  He also leaves eleven grandchildren (and spouses) behind including Sage (Alicia) Sargent, Morgan Sargent, Maddy Jo (Nole) Thompson, Lane (Abigale) Sargent, Henry Gillett, Jane Gillett, William Gillett, Suzy Gillett, Cooper Gerety, Taylor Lawford, and Nick Lawford.  Aria Sargent is Ron’s great grandchild.

     We wish to invite ALL of his family and friends to a memorial in his honor on Saturday, April 6th, 2024 at 11:00 am at the Demaray Funeral Home on 737 Main Street, Gooding, Idaho 83330, with stories to be told. 

     Graveside service at Hagerman Cemetery, and a luncheon at the Snake River Grill in Hagerman immediately following.  For luncheon, please RSVP to

     Condolences, memories and photos can be shared with the family by following the obituary link at























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Celebration of Life
April 6, 2024

11:00 AM
Demaray Funeral Service - Gooding Chapel
737 Main Street
Gooding, Idaho 83330


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