ABOUT THE RETREAT
The Big Sky Retreat provides an open space for spiritual exploration and transformation.
We are discoverers and creators of meaningful spiritual values on a journey of the Self, expanding our vision and consciousness as spiritual beings. We provide an atmosphere of healing, encouragement and love in an inspiring natural setting.
Dr. Roy Graves on the Origins of the Big Sky Retreat
Formerly known as the Grand Teton Retreat
Although the Retreat didn’t actually begin meeting in the Grand Tetons until 1976, the story of the Retreat starts in 1960 in San Francisco, a unique time and place, in church at that time. I met Al Heard who was held in high esteem by the administration of the church. He impressed me as a big ruddy bear of a man who would pat you on the back like a long lost buddy. Though he had a tough childhood and upbringing in a small coastal town, he referred but little to his past. It hurt and was still painful, but with his hearty belly laugh there was no past. Only now and what we could make of it.
I remember several of his friends, Catherine, Eric, Edith, Craig, Ed, and ever so many others, curiously and quietly protected him like a fragile piece. His mother was alive at the time, and his son in Canada. A wife was never mentioned. The man had dreams and love for everyone.
I left San Francisco and returned to New York to work with Raymond Charles Barker. I was licensed at the time and Al and I eased our friendship for a couple years, but never lost touch. It was while I was in the Chicago church that I traveled West and met with Al a few times, but in Florida I began to detect a stirring in Al. He had been to conferences and Retreats without number as the new minister of our Salt Lake City Church, but he was never as fulfilled by them as he’d anticipated. We contemplated it over beers and time. Then he called an enclave of some of us who loved “Ol Al”. The urge to have a little gathering that would center on Retreat and meditation rather than intellectual competition kept driving him.
Finally after much searching out, he and Helen Brungardt found the Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming, within the grand view of the Grand Tetons. That would have been in 1974. We all put up the cash to get it started. Bettie Bogart shouldered the huge job of recording and executing the early planning, printing, scheduling and feeding. Gladys Wright began sweating the non-treasury and the rest of us began recruiting attendants.
I remember after the first year of the Retreat the Board anted up the deficit. I put up $400.00 the first year. It didn’t get easier for 3 or 4 years. Then the Retreat began to catch on. It became a spirited and spiritual Retreat in every sense of the words. We had the freezing cold (to a Floridian), Tai Chi Chih on the mountainside patio, wedding reaffirmations on “Lunch Box Hill”, even a few weddings and memorials.
One St. Patrick’s day several years ago, Al danced as he’d never danced before. His heart couldn’t take it, and they found him gone in the morning. I was pleased to be called to the presidency, though I could never fill his Indian moccasins. The Retreat continued without a ripple after a very emotional memorial service in Salt Lake City; balloons and all. Ol’ Al’s ashes are up there on “Lunch Box Hill” now, even as you read this.
And so we remember. Easier days then. At least the struggles were personal and idealistic. It warms my soul to know there are still such special and sacred people in our world. Those who paved the way, the ones who walk the way, and the ones who dream.
Board Recollections from Bettie Bogarte
The first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Grand Teton Mini-INTA Meditation Retreat was held in the summer of l975. Helen Brungardt had just returned from a few days at Jackson Lake Lodge and came by to see Al Heard about maybe getting together a mediation Retreat to be held there the next year.
Al had been wanting to put together something like that, and he went all the way with the formation of it. The first Board consisted of the two of them, Gladys Wright, Fred Vogt, Charles Geddes, Joe Richards from Houston, Roy Graves from Winter Park, Florida, Clarke Odden and me. Joe didn’t last through the first year. Clarke was the last to leave, except for Charles, who is the only remaining founding member on the Board.
Other Board Members who came and went through the years were Otis Thomas and Roger Teel. Carmen Brocklehurst, who is now Vice President, is, of course, still on, as is Joe Dickey, who is now serving as President, and Howard Caesar. More recently, Barbara Resendez was added as Retreat Coordinator when I retired. Connee Chandler was added as Secretary. It’s funny that it now takes two people to handle the duties I did alone for 23 years! Last year, Sheldon Deal, Kathleen Vogt and Donald Graves were elected to the Board as well.
Note: Our beloved Bettie Bogarte worked with the Grand Teton and later the Big Sky Retreat Boards of Trustees from its inception in l975. This Retreat became so much a part of her life that when she decided to retire from the Board in 1998, it was like losing an important part of her. She said “The people who attend and the activities always gave me more than I could contribute to it.”