Willard A. "Bill" Canode
Willard A. "Bill" Canode, former superintendent of the Durango public school system, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003, at his home in Durango. He died at age 90 of natural causes, according to his family.
Mr. Canode, known to his friends as Bill, and "Papoo" to his family, was born Jan. 16, 1913, in Decatur, Ill., the son of Floyd and Jennie (Shoemaker) Canode. His mother and father set aside money that enabled him to be the first college graduate in his family. His father also gave him the gift of travel around the East Coast and Canada, that eventually drew him West. He traveled to Yellowstone and California before returning to Decatur to complete his college degrees and marry Eileen Whiteside on Nov. 13, 1938.
Mr. Canode became a teacher and progressed rapidly into administration in Illinois. While living in Illinois, the young couple had two children, Patti and Gary. The pull to the West took the Canodes to Kemmerer, Wyo., where he became superintendent.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing. The Canodes third child, Melanie, was born in Wyoming.
The family moved to Durango, and Mr. Canode became the superintendent of the public-school system in 1952. The family bought property at Needelton on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The family moved to Yuma, Ariz, in 1964, and Mr. Canode was superintendent there until he retired and returned to his home on the river in Durango. Several severe winters led Bill and Eileen to return to Yuma in the winter.
He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, Rotary Club, Lions Club and State Officer for AARP.
He was Educator of the Year in Wyoming (1948), Distinguished Service to Arizona Education (1974), Yuma, Arizona’s No. 1 Citizen (1974) and Citizen of the Month, Durango Herald-July (1954).
"Papoo will be remembered by his family as a solid foundation from which we all sprouted. His loving kindness and sourdough pancakes, as well as his cabin, will be his legacy. His spirit of adventure lives on with the family he fostered," said Melanie and Jay Canode, his daughter and grandson.
He was preceded in death by a son, Gary Canode, in 2001.
He is survived by his wife, of Durango; two daughters, Patti Canode Thurmond of Regina, N.M., and Melanie E. Canode of Farmington; four granddaughters, Lori Thurmond of Durango, Nancy Thurmond of Farmington, Alison H. Canode of Farmington, and Johanna Lucero of Albuquerque; three grandsons, Brian Thurmond of Endicott, N.Y., Jay Canode of Silverton, and Scott Willard Herz of Farmington; and six great-grandchildren, Tara Murphy, Conner Murphy, Miles Carter, Skylar Canode, Reyna Lucero and Faith Lucero.
A celebration of his life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003, at the First United Methodist Church. The Rev. Jeff Huber, with First United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Myron Darmour, with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will officiate. Cremation will occur at Hood Mortuary.
Memorial contributions may be made to Canode Family Educational Scholarship Fund, C/O First National Bank of Durango to honor both Bill and Gary Canode by providing scholarships to Yuma and Durango students.
Frank Hodgson Ewart
Durango resident Frank Hodgson Ewart, 95, died on Monday, Aug. 11, 2003, at Four Corners Health Care Center. He died of natural causes, according to his family.
Mr. Ewart was born on Dec. 6, 1907, in Milwaukee to Frank and Emma (Hodgson) Ewart.
He married Eleanor Braund in Milwaukee on Feb. 3, 1937. After working for Texaco as a truck driver for 30 years, he retired in 1970. The family moved to Durango from Arizona in 1998.
Mr. Ewart was a member of Wheatridge Presbyterian Church in Wheatridge since its beginning in 1954 and served as a deacon for many years. He was a Mason for more than 50 years and a past master of Masonic Lodge 119 in Fort Lupton.
He also volunteered at Ridge Home in Wheatridge.
Known as "The Petunia King" for his love of gardening, Mr. Ewart also enjoyed fishing, traveling with his wife, bowling and playing pool and cards.
"He was the greatest. He was loved and will be missed by all of us," his family said.
He is preceded in death by his son, Jim Ewart, who died in 1967.
He is survived by his wife, Eleanor Ewart, of Durango; his daughter, Mary Colgan of Durango; his grandsons, Rob Colgan of Azle, Texas, and Jim Colgan of Madison, Wis.; his granddaughters, Ann Strong of Alamosa, Amy McNitt of Tucson, Ariz., and Chris Martinez of Tucson; and his eight great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at a later date at the Colgan family reunion. Cremation was by Durango Funeral Options.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, 3801 Main Ave., Durango, CO. 81301.
Marjorie Joy Miles
Marjorie Joy Miles, 77, died at her home in Dalton Ranch, north of Durango, on Aug. 10, 2003. She died of natural causes, according to her family.
Mrs. Miles was born Aug. 30, 1925, in Rock Springs, Wyo., the only child of William Judson and Olive Elizabeth Traher. Raised in Arizona, she married William Cole Miles on June 15, 1944, in Miami, Ariz. Mrs. Miles received her bachelors in education and masters in special education degrees at Arizona State University. She also began her doctoral training at the university.
A teacher for 27 years at Hope Elementary School, in Scottsdale, Ariz., she loved her students, family and many friends, according to her daughter, Carolyn Murphy.
Mrs. Miles moved to Durango seven years ago to be near her family. She is survived by her children: William T. Miles of Mohave Valley, Ariz., Sharon Joy Upp of Laguna Nigel, Calif. and Carolyn Murphy of Durango; and her eight grandchildren, including Patrick, Daniel and Sarah Murphy of Durango.
A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hood Mortuary. The Rev. J. W. Ragsdale will officiate. Cremation will take place at Hood Mortuary Crematory.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or an educational charity of your choice.
Dismel Gurule, 98, died Monday, Aug. 11, 2003, at his home in Durango. Mr. Gurule lived in Durango for 55 years.
He was born June 24, 1905, in Vallecito, N.M., the son of Candido and Clarita Gurule. He married Maclovia Gurule in 1934 in Cebolla, N.M.
Dismel was a supervisor for the Works Progress Administration camps and sheriff in New Mexico. President Roosevelt sent him a letter thanking him for helping to set up Social Security.
He worked for the sawmill in McPhee, N.M., and the Weiman Sawmill in Durango. He was also a handyman in the Durango area for many years. He was honored by the Durango Fire Department for his help in the 1974 Durango Fire.
He is survived by his wife; his sons: Junior Gurule of Aztec, N.M., and Jack Gurule of Durango; his daughters, Rosie Gohn and Tina Beal, both of Durango; his brother, Mack Gurule of Española, N.M.; his 20 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
A rosary will be said at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, at Sacred Heart. The Rev. Joseph L. Gallegos will officiate. Burial will take place at Greenmount Cemetery.
Arvin R. Phelps
Arvin R. Phelps, 63, a Durango-area native, died on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2003, in Denver. He died after a long illness, according to his family.
Mr. Phelps was born in a cabin at Red Creek near Vallecito Lake to Elsie and Archie Phelps. He attended a one-room school at Bent Springs. He graduated from Bayfield High School.
He married Kay Clark Phelps on Feb. 16, 1963, and they were married 40 years.
Mr. Phelps was a mechanic, and his family and friends knew him as "the rigger" who could make anything run, with or without the right parts.
He is survived by his wife of Bayfield; his mother, Elsie Phelps of Bayfield; his sons, Rick Phelps, Trent Phelps and Dion Phelps, all of Bayfield; his daughters Sharla Lowe and Wendy Crane, both of Durango; his brothers Archie Phelps of Alaska and Dave Phelps of Bayfield; and his 10 grandchildren.
Mr. Phelps has been cremated. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, in the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Bayfield, 89 East Mill. The Rev. Dan Straw will officiate.
Memorial contributions may be made to Bayfield School Libraries, 24 Clover Drive, Bayfield.
Lynn Clifford Olson
Lynn Clifford Olson, a former resident of La Plata County, died of stomach cancer July 17, 2003. He was 47.
Olson attended school in Ignacio and graduated from Fort Lewis College. He was teacher for many years before moving to Lordsburg, N.M., three years ago.
"I wish to give a special thanks to the First Baptist Church of Lordsburg for the many prayers that were offered," Mr. Olson’s mother, Fern Olson, said.
Mr. Olson was preceded in death by his father and brothers Charles in 1993 and Norman in 2000.
John A. Sheets, Jr.
John A. Sheets, resident of Durango, died Wednesday, Aug 6, 2003, of natural causes at Mercy Medical Center. He was 75.
Mr. Sheets was born March 2, 1928, in Saguache County to John and Ruth (Waggner) Sheets.
He was an accomplished football player in high school in Rio Grande County where he won many awards.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Sheets joined the Navy.
Mr. Sheets enjoyed the outdoors, helping people and racing horses at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, according to his son, Russell Sheets.
"My Dad loved all the natural beauty and wildlife that Colorado had and enjoyed being a part of it," Sheets said.
Mr. Sheets is survived by his wife, Kathleen Sheets, sons Russell Sheets and Darrell Sheets and grandchildren Sky and Dustin Sheets. All are from Durango.
Cremation is scheduled at Hood Mortuary in Durango.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 3801 Main Ave., Durango 81301.
Peter Thomas Savich
Peter Thomas Savich, a lifelong resident of Silverton, died Friday, Aug. 8, 2003, from a stroke at Mercy Medical Center. He was 80.
Mr. Savich was born Jan. 11, 1923, in Silverton to Pete and Annie Savich.
After he graduated from high school, Mr. Savich entered the military during World War II. He served in Company C, 1st Engineer Combat Battalion of the First Army.
Mr. Savich was at Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day.
Among his citations, Mr. Savich earned the Bronze Star and the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal. Recently he was awarded the French Jubilee of Liberty Medal in a ceremony in Durango.
After military service, Mr. Savich worked for Claude Deering Trucking in Silverton, and later as a heavy-equipment operator for San Juan County Road Department. After he retired from the county job, he became a mill operator at the Mayflower Mill and remained there until the mill closed.
Mr. Savich was among the founders of American Legion Post 14 in Silverton.
As a personal crusade, he placed aluminum grave markers and gravestones on a couple of dozen unmarked graves in the town’s Hillside Cemetery.
Endowed with a remarkable memory, Mr. Savich was the accepted authority in town on dates, places, names and baseball statistics.
Mr. Savich is survived by four sisters, Helen Heidy and Margaret Probst, both of Durango, Mary Eaton of Wheat Ridge and Lillie Ann Pergola of Denver.
At his request, Mr. Savich will be cremated with no ceremonies.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Hillside Cemetery Fund, PO Box 154, Silverton 81433 or a charity of choice.
Betty L. Francis
Betty L. Francis, 87, a Durango resident and philanthropist for more than 50 years, died here on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003. She died from natural causes after a brief illness, according to her family.
Mrs. Francis was born Aug. 21, 1915, in Denver, the daughter of Ed and Jessie O’Neil. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Douglass County in the Castle Rock area. She rode her horse, Beauty, from her remote home to school. Mrs. Francis worked her way through high school and then college at Colorado State University, Fort Collins and Parks Business School, Denver.
She married Orval C. Francis in 1935 at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Denver. The Francis family moved to Durango in 1950 when Mr. Francis was named maintenance superintendent with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
In Durango, Mrs. Francis was a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and of PEO. She helped the Animas Museum. She supported many land-conservation and philanthropic organizations.
A skilled cook, Mrs. Francis was especially admired for her dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls. She was an enthusiastic gardener who helped with the gardens at St. Mark’s and the Animas Museum. She was also expert at identifying wildflowers. Each summer, she took a four-wheel-drive trip to see the wildflowers in the high country.
In her later years, her greatest joy was her four grandchildren and their accomplishments.
"She was a loving person and gave generously to family, friends, the community and organizations she belonged to or believed in," said her daughter, Sharon Parham.
Her son, Ken Francis, said, "My mother came from that generation of people who were extremely modest, worked hard for their money and weren’t at all materialistic. She would rather give money to a good cause than buy herself a dress or a household item."
She is survived by her son, Ken Francis of Durango; her daughter, Sharon Parham of Appleton, Wis.; and her grandchildren, Jennie and Clint Francis of Durango, Megan Parham Leffler of Boston, Mass., and Ryan Parham of Seattle, Wash.
She was preceded in death by her husband in October 1982.
A service will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. The Rev. Andrew Cooley and the Rev. Mike Darmour will officiate. Burial is at Bear Canyon Cemetery in Sedalia, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Animas Museum Roofing Project, P.O. Box 3384, Durango 81302, the St. Mark’s Building Campaign, 910 East Second Ave., Durango 81301 or the PEO Program for Continued Education, PEO Executive Office, 3700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312.