Tuesday, July 15, 2008
For most of my father's adult life, he worked for a small independent oil and gas company in southwestern Wyoming which was owned by Utahns J. Tracey Wootton, an industrialist and investor who had initially made his mark on local energy in the 1920's with his involvement in coal production, and O. Devere Wootton, a well known Utah county attorney who also served as mayor of American Fork. Though a state away from us, we were aware of the Woottons and their presence in our lives.
When I graduated from high school, I was shown a great kindness by Devere's wife, Nora Prows Wootton, who sent me a string of pearls accompanied by a lovely handwritten note. Sadly, she passed away last year before I had the opportunity to fully tell her how much that gesture meant to me. The last time I recall seeing her she and Devere were passing through Big Piney on their way to Jackson, pulling a fully outfitted trailer behind them (so she wouldn't have to worry about what she thought might be dubious accommodation availability in Jackson hole). It was the first time I'd ever seen a trailer with toilet and shower facilities, and she was happy to give us a tour.
Eventually, Devere's son, Noall, came to work with him at the firm known as Wootton and Wootton in American Fork. My father was fond of saying, "If anyone ever comes after you, tell them you'll just call your personal attorneys--Wootton and Wootton."
Fortunately, that was never necessary. But it made a brave bluff.
Noall T. Wootton.
But Noall Wootton didn't make his mark on the world simply as the son of my father's employer, or even as a small town lawyer.
Noall Wootton made his mark by being the county attorney who prosecuted Gary Mark Gilmore in a landmark case which ended in the first execution after reinstatement of the death penalty. Gilmore was executed by firing squad in January 1977; his story was made famous in Norman Mailer's acclaimed book, The Executioner's Song.
Noall Thurber Wootton died April 27, 2006, at the age of 65 of cancer.