Elizabeth Louise Bechler
Elizabeth Louise Bechler died Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003, at her home in Bayfield from natural causes. She was 84.
Mrs. Bechler was born March 9, 1918, in Chicago to Author C. Westrom and Daisy Elizabeth Westrom.
After completing 12 years of school, Mrs. Bechler worked as a model. She also worked as a secretary for legal and private businesses.
Mrs. Bechler was an active member of the Frontier Baptist Church of Durango. She took care of ailing family members, and she was known for her generosity.
She is survived by her husband, William Bechler, of Amarillo, Texas; a daughter, Dawn Willis, of Bayfield; a son, Peter Willis, of Amarillo, Texas; four grandchildren, Wendy Bostrom, of Ignacio, David Bostrom, of Durango, and Paul and Richard Willis, both of Amarillo, Texas; and one great-granddaughter.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Pete Willis.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. today at Frontier Baptist Church in Durango. Pastor Reitz will officiate. Interment will take place at the Florida Cemetery in Durango.
Hazel M. Pugh
Hazel M. Pugh, a longtime resident of Durango, died Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003, at the Valley Inn in Mancos from heart disease. She was 90.
"She was a very loving and caring mother," said Bill R. Pugh, her son.
Mrs. Pugh was born Sept. 4, 1912, in Birdseye, Mo. She moved to Holly, Colo., at a young age. She married Clell Pugh on Nov. 18, 1930, in Syracuse, Kan., after meeting him in high school in Holly.
She graduated with an associate’s degree from Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colo. Mr. and Mrs. Pugh ran Clell Grocery and Meat in Holly for more than 30 years.
She moved to Durango in the early 1970s, and she was an active volunteer for the First United Methodist Thrift Store in Durango.
She is survived by a son, Bill R. Pugh, of Farmington; two grandsons, Troy M. Pugh and Grant D. Pugh, both of Durango; a granddaughter, Jana L. Pugh, of Durango; and five great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Pugh was preceded in death by her husband, Clell Pugh.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church. The Rev. Steve Easterday-McPadden will officiate. Cremation will occur at Hood Mortuary Crematory in Durango.
Zereldra ‘Z’ J. Seaney
Zereldra "Z" J. Seaney, a Cortez resident, died at her home Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003, of heart failure. She was 56.
Ms. Seaney was born Jan. 8, 1947, to Owen and Lucy Catherine Dyer Seaney in Marietta, Ga. Her family moved to Natchez, Miss., then to Worthington, Ind. She graduated from Linton High School, Linton, Ind., in 1965. She graduated from St. Anthony’s Hospital School of Nursing. She worked at University Hospital in Chicago, Ill., and the Greene County Hospital in Linton, Ind., as a critical-care nurse.
She moved to Colorado after her parents’ death and was employed with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office as a detention staff nurse.
"She was a real humanitarian in that she excelled as a professional nurse," said Rod Gerken, funeral director at Four Corners Funeral Chapel and a close friend. "She was in critical-care nursing, a very difficult and a very stressful and a very challenging area. She was an outstanding lady."
She enjoyed Colorado, and her cats Comos, Serino and Gussy, as well as her parents’ dog, Blackie. She liked to travel, especially to the East to see friends and family. She had a large collection of novels.
She is survived by her brother, James Roderick Seaney, of Plainfield, Ill.; two nephews; a great niece; and other relatives.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 28 E. Montezuma Ave., Cortez. The Rev. Kevin Novack will officiate. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Cortez-Four Corners Funeral Chapel, 219 N. Linden, Cortez. A prayer vigil will begin at 7 p.m. Monday.
John M. Heller
John M. Heller, of Durango, died at home Jan. 16, 2003, of complications from prostate cancer. He was 79.
Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. January 19 at Hood Mortuary. A funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday January 20 at the Durango Church of Christ, 2100 West Third Ave. Burial will occur at Greenmount Cemetery.
Mr. Heller was born Nov. 24, 1923, in Cashion, Okla., to Jesse and Alma Heller.
He attended Oklahoma A&M in Stillwater, Okla., before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1943. He served in the Navy Sea-Bees in the Aleutian Island campaign.
He married Betty "Joan" Riley on May 30, 1947. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering through the Navy V-12 program at the University of Oklahoma in 1948 and received his commission as an ensign. He became a member of the Church of Christ in 1950.
He and his family moved to Durango in 1956. After 21 moves in 11 years with Gulf Oil Co., he made Durango his permanent home. He worked as a registered professional petroleum engineer in the Four Corners area and founded the Helmur Corp. in 1978.
He enjoyed fishing, hunting, golf and football. He had a cabin at Electra Lake.
"Dad lived by the ethics espoused by Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, which were duty, honor, country, family and football.
He viewed every day as a gift, and began each day with the thought that it would be a great day," said his daughter-in-law, Patti Heller, who spoke for his children.
Mr. Heller is survived by his wife of 55 years; three brothers, Jesse Heller, of Medford, Ore., Harold Heller, of Amherst, Texas and Carrol Ray Heller, of Lawton, Okla.; one sister, Motie Ann Kuykendall, of Houston, Texas; and three children, John M. Heller Jr., of Coppell, Texas, Bruce Heller, of Durango and Vanessa Jones, of Cortez; seven grandchildren, Jesse Heller, of Macogdoches, Texas, and Channing Heller, of Austin, Texas, Roxanne Henderson, of Concho, Ariz., Justin and Sierra Heller, both of Durango and Sara Jones, of Vancouver, Wash., and Geoffrey Jones, of Phoenix, Ariz.; and one great-grandchild.
A funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday at the Durango Church of Christ, 2100 West Third Ave. Burial will occur at Greenmount Cemetery.
Donations may be made to Hospice of Mercy, 375 E. Park Ave., Durango, CO 81301, or the American Cancer Society, for prostate cancer research, 3801 N. Main Ave., Durango CO 81301.
Irene Kuharski died Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003, at Four Corners Health Care Center. She was 93.
Mrs. Kuharski was born July 4, 1909, in Chicago, Ill. She married Chester Kuharski on Oct. 4, 1930. She lived in Chicago for many years before moving to Addison, Ill. She moved to Durango in 1991. For the past three and a half years, she lived at Sunshine Gardens Assisted Living.
"God, church, family, friends, caregivers, bus drivers, hairdressers and anyone she got to know and love were the substance of life to our mother," said her daughter, Nancy Sofka, of Durango.
She was a member of St. Columba Altar and Rosary Society, Catholic Daughters of America, the 55 plus Center Canasta Group and the Health Ministry of St. Columba. She enjoyed prayer, music, reading, baking and cooking, singing, selling hot dogs at Babe Ruth baseball games and participating in her grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s activities.
She was preceded in death by her husband on July 16, 1964.
She is survived by two daughters, Mariann Andrews, of Sarasota, Fla., and Nancy Sofka, of Durango; six grandchildren, Donna Andrews, of Lakeville, Minn., Kathy Ferrell, of Naperville, Ill., Dan Andrews, of Carol Streams, Ill., Michael Sofka, of Farmington, Jeffrey Sofka, of Phoenix, Ariz. and Darren Sofka, of Olathe; and 12 great-grandchildren.
A rosary will be said at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. A Celebration of Life Mass will be at noon Saturday, Jan. 25.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, 3801 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301, or Four Corners Health Care Center, 2911 Junction St., Durango CO 81301.
James W. Salassi
James W. Salassi died Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003, at Mercy Medical Center. He was 82.
Mr. Salassi was born Nov. 2, 1920, in Covington, La. He grew up in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana. He went to college and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He received a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific. He entered private business in California after being discharged. He moved to Arizona in 1989 and to Bayfield in 1999. He maintained strong ties with his class of ‘42 Academy classmates.
"In the blowing of the wind, and the chill of the winter, we remember him," said his daughter, Ellen Salassi, on behalf of the Salassi family.
He is survived by three daughters, Ellen Clark Salassi, of Martinez, Calif., Carol Elizabeth Salassi, of Pomona, Calif. and Mamie Salassi Limonchi, of Wildomar, Calif.; two sons, James W. Salassi Jr., of Hesperia, Calif. and Pete Salassi, of Wrightwood, Calif.; eight grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will he held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mercy Medical Center Chapel, 375 East Park Ave.
Michael Casey Alcon
Michael Casey Alcon died Sunday, Jan. 12, 2003, at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington after a lengthy illness involving heart trouble. He was 45.
Mr. Alcon was born Aug. 16, 1957, in Blanco, N.M. He was employed by the New Mexico State Parks Service for more than 10 years as the Regional 1 Mechanic. Mr. Alcon was awarded the Governor’s Award of New Mexico in 1998.
"He was probably the top mechanic in New Mexico," his wife, Brenda Alcon, said. "Everyone called him, and he could give a diagnosis over the phone."
Mr. Alcon enjoyed fishing and boating, working on cars and helping people he loved and cared about.
"He loved his family, and he loved his grandchildren," Mrs. Alcon said. "And he loved to go for walks. He loved Durango, and has many friends there."
Mr. Alcon is survived by his wife, of Blanco; his mother, Emma Lujan, and stepfather, Jim Lujan of Farmington; two daughters, Michelle and Anna Alcon of Las Vegas, Nev.; stepchildren Lance Esquibel of Aztec, Ray Esquibel of Washington, D.C., and Brandy Esquibel of Blanco; four grandchildren, Nadia Esquibel of Farmington, and Lea Esquibel, Alex Esquibel and Christopher Esquibel all of Aztec; brothers Gene Alcon, of Farmington, James Alcon, of Oklahoma, and Patrick Lujan, of Farmington; sisters Gina Sandoval, of Farmington, Betty Gomez, of Florida and Bernnadette Case of Denver.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Cope Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at New Life Worship Center, 8121 E. Main in Flora Vista. The Rev. Leonard James Alcon will officiate.
A burial will follow the services at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango.
Jane Sibelius died Monday, Jan. 13, 2003, at the Christian Living Center in Englewood, Colo., of natural causes. She was 87.
Mrs. Sibelius was born Feb. 16, 1915, in upstate New York to Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Hendrickson.
She lived in Darien, Conn., from 1938 until she moved to Durango in 1983. She was a homemaker and a seamstress.
She was a Jehovah’s Witness for 40 years.
"She was an expert seamstress, and she couldn’t be beaten when canning foods," son Eric said. "She used to have bushels of peaches and loved to can food."
She was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur Sibelius.
She is survived by three sons, Rob Sibelius of Denver, Roger Sibelius of Durango and Eric Sibelius of Durango; seven grandchildren, Tracy Sibelius and Troy Sibelius, both of Denver, Brian Sibelius of Virginia Beach, Va., Glen Sibelius of Connecticut, Robin Cannon, Laura Sibelius and Todd Sibelius, all of Durango; and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Saturday in Denver. There will be a cremation.
A memorial service will be planned in Durango at a later date. Burial will occur in Greenway, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christian Living Campus, Johnson Center, 5000 E. Arapahoe Road, Centennial, CO 80122.
Edward M. Fox
Edward M. Fox, a U.S. Naval Reserve retiree, died Sunday, Jan. 12, 2003, in Colorado Springs. The cause of death was not disclosed. He was 78.
Mr. Fox was born Feb. 2, 1924, in Dallas, Texas, the son of Francis M. and Almira H. (Quinn) Fox. He graduated from Drake University with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law, and from the University of Texas with a bachelor of business administration. He married Alyce Jane Carlson on Aug. 5, 1945, in Oakland, Calif.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17 and reported for duty on Christmas Eve 1941. After an honorable discharge and after he graduated from college, he joined the Naval Reserve. He served for 20 years as an aircraft maintenance officer and retired at the rank of commander.
He worked for Meredith Publishing Co. for more than 30 years, with the core of his career spent as the Chicago branch advertising sales manager for Better Homes and Gardens.
He retired in the early 1980s and moved to Durango, where he lived for more than 10 years. He served as president of Four Corners Opera. He was a lay reader and vestry member at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was active in High Noon Rotary Club. He and his wife were also active in Music in the Mountains, and they occasionally hosted guest musicians in their home.
He lived in Colorado Springs from 2001 to 2002.
He is survived by his wife, Alyce Fox of Colorado Springs; his son, the Rev. E. Quinn Fox of Colorado Springs; his daughter, Emily T. Fox of Denver; and two grandchildren, Jonathan Fox and Christina Fox, both of Colorado Springs.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, 219 E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs.