Kennewick, Washington / December 25, 1944—June 7, 2018
Lyle Arthur Rathbun, 73, passed away Thursday, June 7, 2018, after a courageous battle with T-cell lymphoma. He was born on December 25, 1944, in Belle Fourche, SD, to Burt Dale Rathbun and Jennie Lenore Fowlkes.
Lyle attended first through eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse on the ranch in Crook County, WY, where he lived with his family on the same land his grandparents homesteaded in 1908. The family then moved into Hulett, WY, so that the kids could attend high school. Lyle lettered in football, basketball, and track, and attended Boys State. After graduating High School in 1963, he attended the University of Wyoming on an academic scholarship, receiving a BS, majoring in Physics. He married Cynthia Vollmer on January 28, 1968 in Lusk, WY.
Lyle was commissioned an officer in the United States Army in January 1968. He went through basic training at Fort Lawton, OK. He was first stationed at Fort Bliss, TX, where he trained recruits to use shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. After the birth of his first son, Douglas, he was deployed to Korea, on the DMZ, from March 1969 until his discharge in February 1970.
His first employment after the military was as a crusher shift supervisor in a molybdenum mine in Leadville, CO. There, his son, Nathan, was born. He received an AA from Colorado Mountain College in mining technology, and taught mining to Native Americans as part of a special governmental program. In August of 1973 he started working for the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration (MESA). His only daughter, Veronica, was born during the night after his first day of work at MESA and he went to work the second day without any sleep. In 1977, he moved to Casper, WY, working for Petrotomics and AeroVironment, monitoring environmental radiation.
In September 1981, he moved his family to Kennewick, WA, where he had been hired at Battelle Northwest Laboratory. Over the next 37 years he worked for various Hanford contractors, except for the two years working for the State of Arizona. In 1993 he received his MS in Radiological Sciences from the University of Washington. His last employment was with Bechtel at the Vit Plant writing procedures. He worked full time until his health forced him to take a leave of absence four months before his death. During his career he was awarded two patents for his work, including for the Electrified Oil-Fogger.
In September of 1980, LDS missionaries knocked on his door, and he invited them to come back when his family was present. Six months and several sets of missionaries later, Lyle, his wife, Cindy, and oldest son were baptized in the Casper 1st Ward. He was a tough nut to crack but once he let that ?rst grain of mustard seed sprout, he became steadfast in the gospel. The rest of his family was baptized in September.
Lyle faithfully served in a large variety of callings in his church, including being on the Stake High Council, in two Bishoprics, Elders Quorum President, and Ward Mission Leader. He served in whatever way he was asked, and then some. At 65 years old, he was still helping to lead youth groups up Mount Hood. On each expedition up Mount Hood or Mount Rainer he kept track of the slowest hiker, helping many reach the top, whom otherwise would not have. He faithfully cleaned and cared for the yards of many elderly friends. He loved the Lord and shared the gospel at every opportunity. If he saw a need he would be the first there to help. He served for many years as a home teacher, visiting his families until the last few weeks of his life. He and his wife worked in the temple first in the baptistery and then as ordinance workers. He and his wife served a mission from October 2015 to April 2017 for the Washington, Kennewick Mission, as member support for the small Branches in Fossil and Monument, Oregon.
He was diagnosed with cancer four months after completing his mission. He died in his home on the afternoon of June 7, 2018, surrounded by his wife and three children.
He is survived by his wife, Cindy; his sons, Doug (Alisa) Rathbun and Nate Rathbun; his daughter, Veronica (Paul) Anguiano; his brother, Dow (Kela) Rathbun of Douglas,WY; and sisters, Dela (Roy) Prazma of Sheridan, WY and Barb (Terry) Goodvin of the family ranch in Crook CO., WY. He is also survived by ten grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Dale and Lenore Rathbun; and brothers, Leonard and Roger Rathbun.