Mountains

Jesse "Pony" Munkres

February 28, 1949 ~ December 20, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old

Jesse "Pony" Munkres Obituary

Hunter S. Thompson said it first, but Pony’s sister, Justina, thinks that it describes her brother to a T. The rest of us are inclined to agree. “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
For several years before his death, Pony was plagued by serious arthritis, internal shingles, totally wrecked knees and chronic lymphocytic leukemia caused from getting blasted with Agent Orange in Vietnam. But he never stopped going. He never stopped trying to accomplish the things he set out to accomplish, not until he was forced to stop by his own hospitalization and ultimate death from acute respiratory distress syndrome on December 20, 2023.
Jesse Kile “Pony” Munkres was born in Douglas, Wyoming, on February 28, 1949, to Curtis Kile and Phyllis Jean Hix Munkres. He was baby brother to twin sisters Justina and Joella, making his own grand entrance just 14 months after they were born. Pony always claimed that his dad put him on a horse when he was two years old, slapped the horse on the rear and told him to hang on. Which he did.
No one ever called Pony “Jesse,” which was the name he was given in honor of the dear friend who served in the U.S. Navy with his father, Jesse West. One of the many stories surrounding Pony’s nickname, as told by sister Joella, is that Jesse West proclaimed before the birth of the new Munkres baby, “It has to be a boy, because Kile needs a son and because all good stallions need a pony.”
Sister Justina remembers that Pony was very protective of her when they were young. They often rode horses together, and he let her know when he didn’t like her boyfriends. She recalls that he was a good student and an outstanding track athlete, setting a state record in the 250-yard dash. And she didn’t even know that his name was Jesse until they started school.
Pony showed up in Cowley sometime in the late 70s. A four-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, this wild, crazy, long-haired, cursing, chain-smoking, loud-mouthed drunk appeared in the Waterhole. A cowboy. A hippie. A mountain man. A spelunker. A storyteller. A rock collector. A dreamer. An artist. The kind of guy who lives life on his own terms come hell or high water. The kind of guy who would not have been out of time and place had he been born in the 1800s. A man who elicited strong feelings from everyone who knew him. You either loved him or you hated him. Sometimes you felt both at the same time.
As luck and life would have it, wicked, wild and handsome Pony stole the heart of one gentle, kind and beautiful Allison Hinckley. After several years of courtship, they got married on July 19,1991, in a lovely ceremony at Five Springs in the Big Horn Mountains. The “taming” of Pony Munkres had begun. It took a few years, some patience and hard work, but by the time of his death, most of the rough edges had been smoothed and polished, but not so much as to make him unrecognizable to those of us who knew him best.
If Pony had some difficulty showing love and affection for the grown-up people in his life, he didn’t suffer the same difficulty when it came to the kids. He genuinely loved his nieces and nephews and allowed them into his heart and his life and even into his sanctuary “treehouse.” Every one of them received a bone carving upon graduation from high school or as a wedding gift – perfect rose necklaces and knife handles so beautifully intricate that no one wants to use them, only admire them.
Thoughts from sister-in-law Alex: “I first met Pony in the 1970s when my husband and I were visiting Cowley and drove to see the Natural Trap on Little Mountain. Pony was this happy and ‘boozed-up’ young man in the back of a pickup truck, yelling and tussling with some of the other guys in the truck. The next time I heard of him was when I discovered that my sister, Allison, was madly in love with him.
“Pony was the ultimate mountain man. He hunted, he cut down trees, he brought wild meat to the table. Later in his life, he kept several hives of bees in the Hinckley Orchard. He and Allison gifted many friends and family with the great honey that he harvested.
“Pony was always repairing or building something. He even built a ‘treehouse,’ which is what we in the family called it. That treehouse is where he did his creative work. He installed a wood burning stove inside to make himself comfortable while he was working in the winter. I believe that their home and treehouse became somewhat of a place to visit for strangers roving around Cowley looking for something interesting to see.
“You would often see Pony and Allison riding around town on their tricycles, his red and hers blue, waving and honking their horns at the children they passed. When Allison became ill in later years, Pony built railings for her so that she could gravitate up and down the stairs. He also installed a railing for her to move easily from one part of their house to the other.
“Unfortunately, Pony developed his own serious physical problems as my dear sister, Allison, became more incapable of taking care of herself in their home. Eventually, Pony was unable to care for her. Allison went into the nursing home in Lovell about three years before she died in June 2023.
“Over the next six months, Pony became more incapacitated. He told me that he could not even crawl up the stairs to his treehouse to keep the fire going so things would not freeze. He was a good man, intelligent and prone to letting me know exactly how he felt about things. We did not agree on many things, but he will be missed.”
Thoughts from niece Wyoming: “Pony was a friendly, artistically talented guy. When I was going through my ‘darker’ times, he would send me cards with loving and supportive messages to let me know that somebody understood what I was going through. He may not have been perfect, but none of us are. He was a part of our family for a long time and will be missed.”
Thoughts from sister-in-law Ann: “Pony loved honey. He thought that honey was the cure for all ailments. He also loved meat and potatoes, but he hated rice. I think that he hated rice because he had to eat so much of it on his ship during the Vietnam War. Deaver’s ‘310’ was perfect for Pony, because he loved the meat and potatoes served there by ‘the girls’ who always made him and Allison feel welcome and special.”
Thoughts from nephew Tre: “We stopped for a hamburger one time. At the gas station they had a hot bar. The lady asked him what he’d like on his burger. Pony said, ‘Go ahead and drag it through the garden.’”
Pony Munkres lived a colorful life. His death has stolen a bit of that color from the lives of those he left behind, but the stories will live on forever.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Allison, and parents Kile and Phyllis.
He is survived by his twin sisters, Joella and Justina; his Hinckley family-in-law, Alexandra, Sarah, Maurine, Frank (Karen) and Schuyler (Ann); and a multitude of nieces and nephews, who saw through the thorns and found the rose.
Pony’s cremains will be interred next to Allison’s in the Cowley Cemetery. A private family gathering will be held in Pony’s honor later this year.

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