Born December 1, 1932, Gerald E. (Jerry) Mernin began his life in Yosemite National Park where his father was a district ranger. Although his parents discouraged him from being a ranger, Jerry Mernin ignored their advice and spent 44 years as a park ranger.
His first love was Yosemite, but he later fell for Yellowstone National Park where he spent a remarkable 32 years, turning down promotions so that he could continue in Yellowstone.
He died December 13, 2011, shortly after completing his memoir. He will be represented at the festival by his widow, Cindy Mernin, who lived in Yellowstone with him for 25 years.
As with many park wives, Cindy accepted the risks inherent with the job. In the days before garbage was controlled in the park, Jerry spent countless nights in the campgrounds trying to keep campers safe from grizzly and black bears. As a supervisor, he chose to make the hazardous technical climbs into the canyon himself rather than ask others to brave tumbling rock races to retrieve fallen people or bodies.
Author Todd Wilkinson described the book as “an unforgettable historical memoir penned by one of America's greatest park rangers.”
More than an adventure writer, Jerry exhibited literary skills that he honed during his formal education at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. However, the years he spent telling stories around the campfire put the final polish into his ranger tales.