A man who understands the miracle of life
Eskelson served the Meeker community for almost 30 years as the local physician, and was the county coroner for 45 years.
Born in Devil’s Slide, Utah, Eskelson attended school there and in Ogden. His parents were both teachers and he was an exceptional student. He was graduated from high school in 1946 and attended Weber State before being accepted to the accelerated program at the University of Utah. He was graduated from medical school in 1952 and began practicing medicine when he was just 23 years old.
He joined the Navy in 1953, and was involved in the early years of the space program, including testing early space suits. He spent two years in the Naval School of Aviation Medicine before moving to California to begin his practice. He lived there for seven years, and then moved to Meeker in 1963, with his wife Betty and three daughters. Dr. Eskelson was in private practice but also worked in the emergency room at the hospital, performing everything from general surgeries to critical coronary care from July 1963, to December 1990. During that time, Eskelson and Dr. Earl Ryan delivered between 25-38 babies every year.
There are few long-term residents of Meeker who don’t have a story to share about Dr. Eskelson. He inspired wholehearted trust, treating the patient as well as the person.
Dr. Eskelson also served as the Rio Blanco County Coroner from 1945 to 2006. He received an award for being the longest-running elected official for his 45 years of service. As coroner, Eskelson was responsible for determining the cause of death.
“It’s a protective thing for society and I think it’s a great service to a community,” he said.
A coroner ensures that there are no unwarranted deaths in the county and whether a death was an accident, homicide, suicide or from natural causes. Eskelson was adamant about accuracy in every situation. When he started, the job paid approximately $10 per case. Today, the position pays more than $33,000 per year.
Dr. Eskelson married his current wife Judy in 1973. Judy also serves the community in the medical field. She and Vera McClure were two of the first nurses to train in coronary intensive care. She is currently a nurse practioner, as well as a family and addictions counselor.
Eskelson has six children. Eileen (Galen) Roberts of Ogden, Utah, who have nine daughters; David (Lori) Lon of Morgan, Utah, have two daughters; Kathy (Charlie) Talkington of Grand Junction have one son and two daughters; Julie (Bill) Laufenn of Fort Collins have one daughter; and Jeff (Kristen) Eskelson of Meeker have one son and one daughter. That’s a total of 17 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.
Eskelson and his wife Judy have enjoyed serving the town of Meeker, they love the outdoors where they used to take every opportunity to go snowmobiling and be together. They have been instrumental in providing quality medical care in a small community. Eskelson has saved lives, delivered lives, and accounted for lives for 45 years, gaining one-of-a-kind comprehension of the miracle of life.