Neal Lee Forbes, born in Sterling, Colorado, on July 31, 1952, passed away on January 19, 2023, near his home northeast of Saratoga, Wyoming. He was born to Cliff and Madaline (Morris) Forbes, and he and his older sister Judy (Dixon) were raised throughout the western United States and spent five formative years in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. In the early 1960s, the family moved to Rawlins, Wyoming, where they opened a Western Auto store in 1963. One of Neal’s responsibilities at the store was to assemble a variety of products for retail, catalyzing a lifelong passion for tinkering. When he was not working at the store or going to school, Neal would often be looking for the next best fishing hole with family friend Bill Hall, another activity he pursued throughout his life.
Neal graduated from Rawlins High School in 1970. He was a standout athlete in high school, using his 6’4” height to help him excel in basketball and football and earn All-State honors in track and field in the triple and high jumps.
Neal was admitted to the University of Wyoming in 1970 where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Geology in 1974. Patricia (Pat) Polakovic was also attending the University during this time, and the two hit it off and were married on May 29, 1976, in Sheridan, Wyoming. They moved to Saratoga in 1977 where they added Scott (1977) and LeeAnn (1981) to the mix and decided there was no better place to raise a family.
Nearly immediately after graduating from UW, Neal accepted an exploration geologist job with Arch Mineral Corporation. This position allowed him to roam the countryside in southern Wyoming in search of coal deposits while also keeping a sharp eye out for wildlife, Native American artifacts, and amazing landscapes. He moved up through the ranks at the company quite rapidly and became a mine superintendent at a Hanna Basin mine in his mid-twenties. He later became a Hanna Basin mine manager, worked at mines outside of Gillette and Elk Mountain late in his career, and retired from the company after 38 years of service.
Neal is survived by his wife Pat; son Scott (Lisa Phu) of Juneau, Alaska; daughter LeeAnn (James) Sedman of Huntley, Wyoming; and sister Judy Dixon (Rob O’Connell) of Rawlins, Wyoming. Also surviving are grandchildren Jack (12) and Blair Sedman (9), and Acacia (6) and Lupine Forbes (4). He was preceded in death by his parents, Cliff and Madaline Forbes.
Neal will be remembered as a man of few words with a big heart and a passion for living in rural Wyoming. He spent countless hours behind the wheel of a pickup truck in pursuit of fishing, hunting, wildlife photography, and wide-open spaces usually with a canine companion by his side. It is quite fitting that he breathed his last breath on such a journey.
The family would like to thank the various agencies involved in Neal’s recovery efforts, including the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Carbon County Office of Emergency Management, and Saratoga and Encampment Police Departments.
Services for Neal will be conducted Friday, January 27, 2023, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. The service will be live streamed. Please use this link to view the service online. https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/9535316310
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Neal Forbes Memorial Fund: gofundme.com/f/neal-forbes-memorial-fund. Proceeds will go to charitable organizations in the North Platte River Valley.