Louis “Llama Louie” Centrella died peacefully July 8 in his home, surrounded
by family. His family provided the following.
Lou was a force of nature whose laughter and wit will inspire his loved ones
forever, and many of our lives now feel an aching emptiness that his massive
presence once filled.
His story began in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, as a member of the class of
1963. The third of Louis Sr. and Evelyn Centrella’s six children, he came from
a big, boisterous, Italian family that adored him. Affectionate and generous
with his family, Louie was sure to mix every act of love with a daredevil antic
or two. He was a writer, a comedian and, most proudly, a district champion
wrestler. Years after he passed through Upper Darby, people would talk about
the speed and strength of the “Flying C.” Everyone knew him, and everyone
had a story about him.
In 1967, Lou graduated from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania with a
degree in English. He went on to teach junior high school English at Upper
Darby and coach the school’s wrestling team, a pursuit he later considered his
life’s calling. Even years after he retired from teaching, Lou would stop school-
age kids on the sidewalk and ask them to deliver facts about national
landmarks. Later in his life he volunteered as a mentor to middle school
students and helped coach the Jackson Hole High School wrestling team,
sharing his love for the sport with the next generation.
Lou stopped in Jackson in 1974 and, like many early Jackson Holers, never
left. From then on his charm and energy radiated throughout town until
almost everyone knew his name. He ran the gamut of career options, including
carpentry, sales, copy editing the Jackson Hole News&Guide and real estate
In the 1980s he became “Llama Louie,” bringing llamas to Jackson Hole as
pack animals and beginning an outfitting business in the Tetons. He enabled
countless visitors to enjoy Wyoming’s wilderness and sleep under the stars,
including journalists from The Washington Post and ABC who were covering
conservation of natural lands. In the winter he became a concierge, booking
snowmobile trips from a little office under the steps of the Mangy Moose.
Lou was also a rock star. As the lead singer of the local band Hicksville he
brought the house down with impersonations of Billy Joel and Elvis Presley.
Louie relished hunting. He once harvested a full-curl ram and a record-
breaking moose, “Colonel Randall,” which can be viewed at the visitor center
north of town.
But he secured his biggest score when he married Susan in 1995. As he wrote
on his wedding invitations, “the young, beautiful, and vibrant Susan Hannah
Hess actually agreed to marry the old and wrinkled, but still lovable Louis
Rocco Centrella,” and so began a journey full of laughter, love and unexpected
twists and turns of various magnitudes.
In 1999 they welcomed beautiful twin daughters Mila and Lane. They lived on
their dream property in Alta, which Louie named “Al Di La,” after the Italian
love song. Look up “Wyoming man kills mountain lion eating his llama” for a
snapshot of the adventures Louie got into over there. He loved Al Di La and
was able to visit that beautiful place once more shortly before he passed.
Many of his family remember laughing hard with Louie, a twisted humorist,
cinematic storyteller and vibrant merrymaker. He served as a role model and
teacher to his nieces and nephews, coaching them in chess, Scrabble, guitar
and sports. As a father he glowed with pride, teaching his daughters to walk
tall, laugh loudly and not mince words. Lou’s intelligence, enthusiasm and
constant curiosity for the world around him was a light that never dimmed.
Even in his old and persnickety age, Lou brought adventure and passion to
He is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Mila and Lane, brother Nick
(Cathy), sisters Susan and Norma, sister-in-law Nina and about 6,000 nieces,
nephews, in-laws, cousins and other friends and relatives. He was preceded in
death by his brothers, Michael and Dominic, with whom he is currently
laughing over a game of heavenly Scrabble.
If you see a shadow moving along the Death Canyon shelf and coming down
the Devil’s Stairs, that will be Lou. Rest in peace, Louie.
We were given 14 extra years with Louie thanks to a liver transplant he
received when he was 61. To honor his memory, please consider registering as
an organ donor and/or go out and plant a tree, kill a thistle or hike a trail or
Due to COVID, Lou’s memorial service will be postponed until travel is safer
and spirits are higher. Stay tuned.
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