By Sarah Elmquist Squires

Managing Editor

Dessie Bebout was one of the first Wyoming women to step forward to serve in the U.S. Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She and her husband, “H.H.” Hugh Bebout, opened their marina at Boysen Reservoir in 1954, and she served the Shoshoni Post Office for 13 years, rising to the rank of Postmaster. Dessie left her mark across Fremont County and Wyoming, and was a trailblazer in many endeavors. Now, her name may be memorialized forever after a congressional push to name the Shoshoni Post Office in her honor. 

U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis (both R-Wyo.), along with Seantor Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced a bill last week to name the Shoshoni Post Office after her.

Brave young woman from Wyoming

Bebout grew up in Hudson, the fourth of nine children, and was proud of her family’s entrepreneurial spirit with Svilar’s Bar & Restaurant, Svilar Light & Power, Svilars’ Derby Bar, and others. She graduated in 1937 from the Fremont County Vocational High School in Lander and worked for the Fremont County Extension Service, then the F.E. Warren Air Force Base. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the WAVES effort that provided for women to enlist in WW2, Dessie stepped up to the plate. She was one of the first in the state to enlist in WAVES, hopping on a train to New York City for basic training, then spending more than two years serving in Seattle recording and tracking down the arrival and departure of sailors to and from the Pacific fleet. 

Dessie met her future husband in Hudson when she was 17. The two served in tandem, with Hugh in the Air Force. The pair were married when they were both on leave in 1943, and following their honorable discharges in 1945, they moved to Bairoil and started a family. The couple and their two young children moved back to Fremont County in 1948, then had two more children. In 1961, following the death of Dessie’s sister, the family grew to include their niece and nephew, as well. 

Dessie began her career with the U.S. Postal Service in 1962, where she served for 13 years, rising to the rank of Postmaster there. Before her retirement, she was given the highest honor for postmasters – The Order of the Vest.

“Dessie Bebout dedicated her life to serving this country and helping others,” Sen. Lummis said. “From enlisting in the military following Pearl Harbor to serving as Postmaster of the Shoshoni Post Office, I can’t think of a more fitting person to name the Shoshoni Post Office after.” 

Sen. Barrasso lauded Bebout’s many accomplishments. “We are all so grateful for her years of service to our nation and her incredible contributions to communities across Wyoming,” he shared. “Naming the Shoshoni Post Office after Dessie will ensure her legacy carries on for future generations of Wyoming men and women.”

“As a fellow Navy veteran, I want to honor the sacrifice she made for our country, and I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill in her memory,” remarked Sen. Carper. “I want to thank Sen. Barrasso for his efforts to name this post office so that Dessie’s memory lives on in her community.” 

Bebout passed away in May at the age of 102, and is remembered for her remarkable life and legacy. Over the years she was involved in many community organizations, including the Shoshoni PTA, Wyoming Women’s Commission, Wyoming Private Industry Council, Riverton Hospital Board, Shoshoni Chamber, and many others. In 2011 she was recognized with the Wyoming Women of Distinction award, and she received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Last year, Hudson declared a “Dessie Bebout Day” in her honor.