Returning to the scene of the place where a grizzly bear tore you apart might not seem like the most fun in the world, but if you’ve lived 50 years beyond the event, you might be more in a celebrating mood. Joseph Williams, a 70-year-old man from Missouri, will return to commemorate the place in Glacier National Park where he was mauled by a grizzly in 1959.
He’ll be joined by Don Dayton, the now-80-year-old ranger who saved his life by shooting and killing the angry bruin. Williams somehow withstood more than 45 minutes of brutality—first by fighting back, getting away, and then getting attacked again—before Dayton showed up. His first shot missed the grizz, but the second hit the shoulder, and the third nailed it in the spine.
Williams survived a scalping, and returned to normal life after multiple surgeries (quite the feat for 1959). He returned to the spot on Mt. Altyn where he was attacked three years after the incident, but has not returned since. He’s met with Dayton a few times in the intervening years, but the two will get dinner together on the hour of the attack.
There’s no official observance, but Williams, who gets a Bonus Badass Medal for also surviving colon cancer and heart problems, will give a talk on human resilience at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell soon after. (I’d say he’s qualified.)
“This for me is an opportunity to acknowledge Don Dayton,” Williams said. “It’s a great time to get together in an incredibly gorgeous place with some people who are extremely important to me.”
“I’ve forgotten my own wedding anniversary enough times that no one would accuse me of getting caught up in anniversaries,” said Williams, 70 and a food broker in Missouri. “But this one is different.”
I’ll say: Cheers to you, Mr. Williams, for being a bear-beating badass.
Grizzly bear victim, savior to meet in Montana (AP)