We were both shocked and saddened with the news of the untimely death of our friend and neighbor, Jerry Ehlers. One of the pioneer residents of the Castle Valley River Ranchos, Jerry moved his family here 12 years ago to a bare piece of land. Together they built and planted, creating the property which is now the Sistalita Bed and Breakfast location.
Jerry loved Castle Valley and shared his enthusiasm of the area with many of his friends in California, who felt his excitement and also moved here--sort of a modern day Brigham Young.
With his outgoing personality, he made friends easily. You would feel like you knew him for years after only a few minutes of conversation. His house was open to all who needed a place to stay.
He was an avid sports fan but especially liked basketball. Local residents recall meeting for an early morning session on the court that he organized. Before Castle Valley had a place to play, I remember being dragged out of bed at 5 a.m. for a session in Moab before work.
An artist by trade, Jerry has left his mark all over the western United States in the form of beautiful murals. They can be found at restaurants, hotels, motels, medical and apartment buildings, hospitals, churches and in private homes. For a change of pace Jerry has recently been painting scenes on slabs of Kanab Goldstone, a natural sandstone with designs induced by a mineral spring containing iron oxides.
After graduating from High School, he served in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in Oklahoma and Germany and attended Brigham Young University to study art.
On the evening of Feb. 29, 1988, Jerry was found dead in his car just after a basketball game in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was working. He died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 48.
Our prayers go out to those he leaves behind including his lovely wife, JoAnna and his ten children whom he loved dearly.
He loved life and rose early to greet each new day with excitement and optimism. Those living within earshot of him will always remember him singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning, a song from the musical Oklahoma, as it echoed off the nearby rims of Castle Valley early each morning.