Fred Bryant Gomm, 92, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away at home in Smoot, Star Valley, Wyoming Thursday October 22, 2020.
He was born June 26, 1928 in Osmond, Wyoming to Ben Charles Gomm and Opal Louise Allred, the second of seven children. Early in life he learned hard work and responsibility. As a 6 year-old, he was irrigating fields, feeding and milking cows, tromping down hay on the haying wagon or driving the horse team while his dad and uncle pitch-forked up the hay. His baptism at 8 years old was in the millrun of his uncle’s sawmill, along with two of his best friends, who agreed to be baptized first to show him that the cold water of Dry Creek wasn’t all that bad.
The family moved from the small log cabin to a newly built home in Osmond in the fall of his 10th year. Near disaster struck a few months later when a spark escaping from the wood-burning stove caught the house on fire, burning it to the ground, along with just about all their clothes, food and furnishings. The family took shelter in an old miner’s cabin which Dad’s father dragged to a 170-acre tract of willow-covered pasture ground 2½ miles south of Smoot that they bought for $600 a few years earlier. It had no glass in the windows or a door, so they made do with hanging oiled paper and a blanket to keep the birds and the cold night air out. The boys slept on the hay wagon or under it when it rained. This cabin remains as the front room of the ranch house that was later added on, and is the front part of Debbie & Rex’s house now.
As a young man, Dad took to Scouting and saw real practical value in acquiring the skills and leadership that it promoted. As an adult he taught these skills and principles to hundreds of boys and leaders, serving many years in leadership positions at the unit, district and council level. He was recognized for his dedication and service with the District Award of Merit and Silver Beaver award.
In his early school years, Dad loved to play softball and baseball. As a 15 year-old he was good enough to make the team in the new Star Valley baseball league which was made up of older 17-19 year old guys, alternating between 2nd base and pitcher. Wednesdays and Saturdays would see him drive the tractor to Smoot for ball games and practices. He also excelled as a student in high school, earning a scholarship to attend Utah State Agricultural College at Logan, Utah where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational Agriculture.
Money was always short during his college days, but Dad figured out how to live on about 14 cents per day by taking care of the animals at the Vet Science lab which came with a place to live and sustenance from the college herds, orchards and fields, and the occasional autoclaved rabbit or chicken after the vet lab pronounced ok to eat.
After completing his Bachelor’s degree, he signed a contract to start up a brand new Vocational Agriculture and Industrial Arts department at a brand new high school in Arco, Idaho. It was soon discovered that he was the only teacher on staff who’d had any college chemistry classes, so he became the chemistry teacher as well. While at Arco, he met who was to become his eternal companion a few years later- Dorothy Ann Barnes. Shortly after their meeting he was drafted into the Army for two years. The two corresponded regularly, and upon his return, she greeted him with a hug rather than a handshake. They soon became engaged and were married for time and eternity July 29, 1953 in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple.
Newly married and back at college working on a Masters Degree in Range Management, their first home for several summers was a makeshift camp trailer converted from an old surplus Army photo lab, parked somewhere in the middle of the Utah desert doing sheep grazing studies. Their refrigerator was a hole in the ground covered with a wet cloth, and the closest water was seven miles away. They had slightly more civilized quarters during the school year at some old Army housing barracks that had been converted to apartments. But they were happy, and soon welcomed Debra Ann to their little family.
After graduate school, Bryant’s new career with USDA Agricultural Research Service as a Range Research Scientist took them to Bozeman, Montana, and within a few years their family expanded with two new additions: Michael, and James. While there he served as scoutmaster for a troop of 25 boys, and later as 2nd Counselor in the bishopric.
Another transfer sent them to Flagstaff, Arizona in 1963, and their fourth and youngest child, Susan, made their family complete. After 6 years and with encouragement from his USDA management, another move brought the family back to Logan for Dad to pursue coursework towards a Doctorate degree.
After successfully completing an intense 2-year PhD curriculum while raising children in grade school, Junior High and High School, and commuting between Logan during the school year and Flagstaff in the summers, the USDA strongly encouraged Dad to consider a transfer to Burns, Oregon, which is not the end of the earth but one can certainly see it from there. But despite the desolate surroundings, Dad found the work rewarding and he was recognized as the authority in solving agronomic problems. While completing his PhD research work and writing his dissertation, he served as a Stake High Councilor and later Bishop of the Burns Ward, the diameter of which covered as much area as the state of Massachusetts.
One last work transfer was requested by the USDA, this time back to Logan to be the scientist to perform the testing of newly-introduced plants under rangeland conditions from Montana to Arizona. His first assignment was to write his own job description, an opportunity few scientists receive. Shortly after their arrival, their ward was divided and Dad once again was called to serve in the new ward bishopric.
After his retirement in 1984, and with Dorothy Ann designing, they worked together to rebuild and renovate the structures on the Gomm family’s old homestead south of Smoot, Wyoming. For the next 25 years they rented out the ranch, hosting gatherings for many families. Dad enjoyed the work to bring back usefulness to the buildings and sharing this special place where others could strengthen their family ties. During the winters, they would go south to spend them in Logan. In 2000-2001 they accepted a call to serve a 12-month church mission to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Dad was able to apply his practical construction talents building sidewalks and fences and even built a new horse barn for the big horses that pull the visitor wagons through the restoration.
After the passing of Dorothy Ann in 2011, Dad relocated to the Smoot Ranch, where he caught the indexing bug from his brother, Thiel. He thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of deciphering the handwritten names of individuals and families listed on various historical records and entering them into the Church’s family history database, completing over 92,000 entries.
He is survived by four children- Debra Ann (Rex) Saunders, Michael (Kathy) Gomm, James (Pat) Gomm, and Susan (John) Kertesz; 21 grandchildren and 63 great-grandchildren; one sibling- Lila Webb. He was preceded in death by Dorothy Ann Barnes, his beloved wife of 58 years; his parents, four brothers- Merrill, Ben, Thiel and Lyle; and a sister, Veretta.
Viewing will be at Schwab Mortuary, Thursday Oct. 29, 6-8 pm. Graveside services will be Friday Oct. 30 at 2:00 pm at the Smoot, WY Cemetery. (Osmond Church if inclement weather.)
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