Papa Bear Whitmore

1927 - 2003

Papa Bear Whitmore

Papa Bear Whitmore

Painting by Holly Merrifield

He passed away on October 22, 2003 at 11:30 AM at the age of 76 in his home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

"... years ago as I held the body of a young girl in my arms, I realized the urgency for people to understand that emergency situations can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. That girls death could have been prevented. And because of that sad experience, I began teaching that it is absolutely necessary for people of all ages to know how to properly recognize and deal with dangerous situations so they can come home alive. The fact of the matter is that so many people need not have died in the outdoors if only they had been trained how to survive emergencies. These people were not aware that in order to command nature, you first obey it. This is why I have made outdoor survival education my life because '...there is no need to die in the wilderness...'." - Papa Bear Whitmore

Papa Bear Whitmore set out to change that in the late 1950's as a member of a western Colorado search and rescue team. Over the years, by continually testing his methods and ideas in the only laboratory possible, the outdoors, he developed techniques that will keep people alive under many circumstances and in many different environments.

He was also instrumental in helping to develop and pass a law requiring Hunter Safety Education for all hunters in Colorado. He was also a master hunter education instructor.

Papa Bear founded the Wilderness Institute of Survival Education in 1970. Upon his death in 2003, Don Davis, an instructor who worked with him for many years, continued teaching wilderness survival. The company was renamed to the Wilderness Survival Institute.

Colorado Division of Wildlife Remembers

Papa Bear Tributes