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Verona "Ronnie" Budge
Verona "Ronnie" Budge was born in Draper, Utah in 1928. Her parents were in the restaurant business so they moved around a lot, including to Jackson, Wyoming in 1936. For high school, she attended girls school in Salt Lake City, Utah and Laramie, Wyoming. After one year of college, Ronnie met and married her husband, Charles "Chuck" Budge who was four years older than her. Chuck got his degree in forestry and was employed by the National Park Service. Every few years he was transferred to another park, ranging from Yellowstone in Wyoming, to Shenandoah in Virginia to Organ Pipe in Arizona to Glacier in Montana. Finally, in 1979 Chuck was transferred to Alaska, where in 1980 he became the first superintendent of the newly established Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Ronnie and Chuck settled into life in Kenny Lake and the Copper River Basin, and developed connections with the community, despite initial animosity towards the Park Service. Chuck retired in 1984 and he and Ronnie moved to Whitefish, Montana. Chuck passed away in 2000, and Ronnie still resides in Whitefish, but as of 2015 she still makes regular summer trips back to the Wrangell Mountains and Copper River Basin to visit friends and re-connect with the place and people.