Gary Harney obit.jpg

(Captain) Gary Stephen Harney of Cody passed away peacefully May 6, 2023, following a valiant battle with ALS.

Gary was born Aug. 6, 1952, in Newark, N.J., to Stephen E. and Mary A. Harney. He attended Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va. From a young age, Gary had a passion for surfing, which led him to travel internationally to New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia.  Upon his return, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in History from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

After moving to Pennsylvania, and working in the mining industry for a bit, Gary pursued his dream to become a pilot in aviation.  He flew a variety of cargo, charter, regional, commercial, search and rescue, and aerial firefighting aircraft, in his nearly 50-year long career.  

Gary started his aviation career flying cargo and then began training in aerial firefighting in vintage World War II era aircraft in the late ‘70s. From there, his interest moved to California, where he started his commercial airline career with Golden Gate Airlines.

In 1982, Gary moved to Virginia and signed on with Piedmont Airlines, which transitioned into US Airways and eventually American Airlines, where he excelled to Senior Captain. He flew a variety of commercial jet aircraft and in the last five years of his career, he flew transatlantic routes on the Airbus, A-330, until his retirement in 2017. Gary had a long and memorable career: mentoring, partnering and forming many lifetime friendships.

Soon after his retirement from the airlines, Gary returned to his roots, in aerial fire fighting, across the country, and trained and mentored other pilots with the expertise and special knowledge required for that service.  

Gary was widely known as the ultimate outdoorsman, from surfing to scuba diving, snowmobiling, skiing, hunting, and fishing. He was a certified Captain of the Coast Guard, Maritime Sailor, and a Certified Master Fishing Guide in Key West. With his knowledge, experience, and love of the outdoors, he guided others to start and advance their sportsman careers.  

Gary was most excited about meeting the love of his life, Kathleen “Leeny” Hoyle. They were inseparable, sharing a love of the outdoors, all things adventure, music, and love of flying.  They married with the backdrop of Pilot Peak in Sunlight Basin in November 2022.  

Gary will be remembered for his generosity, his love of music, his indominable will and adventurous spirit and, most importantly, his love of family and many treasured friends.

Gary was preceded in death by his mother Mary A. Harney.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen “Leeny” Hoyle, his daughter Jordan Harney and husband Dan Wright (and the first expected grandchild), Gary’s father Captain Stephen E. Harney, Gary’s brothers Bob Harney and wife Deb, Ron Harney and wife Terri, Paul Harney and wife Laura, his nephews and niece, grandnephews and grandniece, aunts and uncles, and many cousins.  

Memorial contributions/donations may be made to the following or to the organization of your choice:

In honor of Gary’s esteemed aviation career:  Piedmont Airlines Silver Eagle Fund:

For the compassionate care and support from Stillwater Hospice, Stillwater Hospice of Northern Wyoming, 210 N. Bent, Powell, WY 82435.

In honor of Gary’s environmentalist spirit and Aerial Firefighting service: Bonefish and Tarpon Trust,

Trees for a Change, where trees can be planted under Gary’s name registry.  

National parks:                  

Gary requested that no funeral service or memorial be held, but instead, a Celebration of Life, to be determined at a later date.

Memories and condolences may be shared on Gary’s memorial page at

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