Barbara McDonald, 96, died Wednesday, June 2, 2004, in her daughter's Durango home. She died of cancer, said Mrs. McDonald's son-in-law, Tom McMillen.
"She fought it off and fought it off. She was a little trooper," McMillen said.
Mrs. McDonald was born Barbara Straton in 1908 near Boston. She graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and taught school for many years in the Alhambra district of California.
She married the late William McDonald.
Mrs. McDonald moved to Durango three years ago to be near her daughters.
"She loved to go to the Sky Ute Casino and play poker," McMillen said. "Twice she hit the royal flush, once just recently, and won about a thousand dollars. But then she got too sick to go. She read a lot, too."
She was a member of P.E.O., a women's society, in California and later in Durango.
Mrs. McDonald is survived by her daughters: Marsha Stuck and Joan McMillen, both of Durango; seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild
She will be buried in California with her husband. No local services are planned.
Johnny Lee-Ocaña Taylor
Johnny Lee-Ocaña Taylor, 9½, died at home in Durango Saturday, May 29, 2004, after more than three years spent battling a rare form of adrenal cancer.
Johnny's treatment was rigorous and wide-ranging. He had surgery, chemotherapy and an experimental treatment at the Burzynski Research Institute in Houston, Texas.
Johnny was a very brave boy and a hero to many of his friends and family, said his parents Lisa and John Taylor in a prepared statement. He had a beautiful smile and a special presence about him that made people love him instantly. He had a great sense of humor, zest for life and loved to make people laugh, the statement said.
Johnny enjoyed sports. Baseball was his favorite. His dream was to play for the Colorado Rockies. If that didn't work, he wanted to be a professional football or hockey player. If all else failed, he would go into engineering like his father.
"Johnny will be sadly missed by so many. His family will find comfort in the fact that they will all be together again one day," said his parents in the statement.
People across the Four Corners helped raise funds and provided spiritual support for Johnny and his family.
Neighbors and friends formed the Friends of Johnny and set out to earn "a million pennies for Johnny."
Among the contributors to the Taylor family were: Johnny's school, Riverview Elementary School; Escalante Middle School and Miller Middle School, where a benefit basketball game was played; Cuckoo's Restaurant, which donated all the money they took one day; the Elks Lodge; High Noon Rotary Club; New Life Chapel; Entrada School; the Make-A-Wish Foundation; Durango High School; the First National Bank of Durango; and many other groups and individuals including U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo.
Johnny is survived by his parents; his biological father, John Ocaña; his sisters: Sommer Aragon, Jessica Taylor and Jazmin Rojas; his grandparents: Helen Aragon, Joe Rojas, Jean and Floyd Taylor; and aunts, uncles and cousins.
A memorial service will be held at noon Friday at New Life Chapel, 860 Plymouth Drive, Durango.
Memorial contributions may be made to Country Kids with Cancer, P.O. Box 3659, Durango 81302 or Mercy Hospice, 3801 Main Ave., Durango 81301.
Elbert Larry Baker
Elbert Larry Baker, 73, of Grand Junction died Monday, May 31, 2004, in Grand Junction.
Mr. Baker was born May 23, 1931, in Boyero, the son of Goldie Roberta Baker and Lewis John Baker. He was raised in DeBeque and graduated from DeBeque High School before going on to serve three years in the U.S. Navy.
Mr. Baker married Wanda Kiggins on March 12, 1954, in Collbran.
He worked for the Colorado Division of Wildlife until he retired in 1984.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Wanda Claydean; his children: Harold Lee Baker of Durango, Patsy Hutson of Bloomfield, N.M., Kathy McElvain; three grandchildren; six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild; his brothers: Earl Baker of Grand Junction and Harry Baker of Windsor; his sisters: Irene Crabtree of Grand Junction, Betty Lou Cordova of Fruita and Louise Crandall of Rifle; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. today at Martin Mortuary Chapel in Grand Junction with military honors following at 3 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado.
Donations may be made to the Grand Junction Fire Department, 330 S. Sixth St., Grand Junction.
Erik David Stern
Erik David Stern, a 1996 graduate of Durango High School, died Saturday, May 29, 2004, while kayaking in Grangeville, Idaho. He was 26.
Stern was born Dec. 3, 1977, in Mountain Home, Idaho, and was raised in Flintridge, Calif., and Durango. He received a degree in geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2001, and he was at the University of Idaho at Moscow pursuing a master's degree in hydrology.
Stern's love of adventure and the outdoors led him to adopt Colorado as his home. His zest for life will be remembered by everyone who knew him.
Stern is survived by his parents, Dr. Mark Stern and Kathy Stern of Durango; brothers Spencer Roper of Long Beach, Calif., and Brandon Stern of Durango; sisters Kimberly Stern and Lindsay Stern of Durango; his grandparents, Margaret Mikkelsen of Fullerton, Calif., and William Stern of Milwaukee, Wis.; and his best friend and partner, Michelle Emert of Moscow, Idaho. He also is survived by many aunts, uncles and cousins.
A funeral service is scheduled at 2 p.m. today at Hood Mortuary Chapel. Burial will be at Greenmount Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Idaho Rivers United, P.O. Box 633, Boise, ID 83701.
Dusty Walker, 88, who owned and managed O-Bar-O Resort near Durango, died Saturday, April 3, 2004, in Palm Desert, Calif.
A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 5, at the Elks picnic area by the Florida River on Florida Road (County Road 240).
Mildred Novella Johnson
Mildred Novella Johnson, of Durango, died Tuesday, May 25, 2004, at Mercy Medical Center. She was 84.
Mrs. Johnson was born Sept. 22, 1919, in Cedar Grove, Ga., to William Gatlin and Ida Jean Koger Gatlin. She married Eugene Guthrie Johnson on Jan. 11, 1941, in Catoosa County, Georgia.
Mrs. Johnson, who worked in retail sales for much of her life, moved to Durango from Albuquerque in 2002.
She enjoyed cooking, crocheting and visiting with friends and family.
Mrs. Johnson is survived by sons Gene Johnson, of Durango; Jack Johnson, of Lakewood; and William Allison, of Cleveland, Tenn. Daughters Mary E. Jordan, of Juneau, Alaska and Patricia Martenes, of Kingman, Ariz., and grandson, Josh Jordan, of Juneau, also survive her.
She was preceded in death by her husband.
Cremation was handled by Durango Funeral Options. Interment is scheduled at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
Clayton and Viola Briggs
There will be a memorial service celebrating the lives of Clayton Everett Briggs and Viola Louise "Skippy" Briggs at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 5, 2004, in Marvel at the Marvel United Methodist Church on County Road 133.
Mr. Briggs died on November, 20, 2003, at the age of 91. He was born November 13, 1912, in Durango, to Richard and Stella Briggs. He met Viola Rowe while working in her father's gold mine in La Plata County. They were married December 24, 1935.
Mrs. Briggs died on March 11, 2004, at the age of 87. She was born on March 18, 1916, to Minnie May and Harry Rowe. She grew up in Marvel and attended Fort Lewis College. Mrs. Briggs was the first person in her family to earn a degree, and taught school in Colorado, Washington and New Mexico for 32 years.
In 1975 Mrs. Briggs retired and the couple built their dream house in the Manzano Mountains near Mountainair, N.M.
Mr. and Mrs. Briggs are survived by their two children, Beverly Briggs of Albuquerque, Gary Briggs of Las Cruces, N.M.; four grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren. Mrs. Briggs is also survived by a brother, Bill Rowe of Marvel and a sister, Wilma Flaugh of Cortez.
Leonore Clark Hamilton
Lenore Clark Hamilton, a 50-year resident of Durango, died of natural causes at her home on Saturday, May 22, 2004. She was 86.
Mrs. Hamilton was born July 27, 1917, in Chicago, the daughter of Montgomery and Mabel Ward Clark.
She grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and graduated from Penn Hall prep school in 1934 and Skidmore College in 1938. She also was a graduate of the Art Career Center of New York City.
In 1942, she married Elisha Bentley "Ben" Hamilton in Akron, Ohio. The couple moved to Durango in 1953, where Mr. Hamilton, an attorney, joined William Eakes to form the Eakes & Hamilton law office. When Eakes was named district judge, Mr. Hamilton founded his own law firm, which he headed until his death in 1981.
Mrs. Hamilton was an accomplished artist, working in numerous media and styles. Her work appeared in theNew Yorkermagazine.
She was particularly known for her portraits, which hang in homes in Durango and around the world. A portrait of former Fort Lewis College president Rexer Berndt hangs at the college.
Mrs. Hamilton was a keen bridge player, playing regularly until shortly before her death.
Mrs. Hamilton is survived by sons Bentley Hamilton and Tom Hamilton, both of Durango, and Greg Hamilton of Farmington; and daughter Kathy Warner of Saturna Island, British Columbia. She also is survived by grandchildren Christopher, Haley, Daphne and Melanie Hamilton, all of Durango, Eric Hamilton of Woodland, Wash., Paul and Gina Hamilton of Farmington, Karen Lawson of Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, David Warner of Issaquah, Wash., and Kimberly Hildenbrand of Portland, Ore. Three great-grandchildren, Benjamin Hamilton of Woodland, Wash., Jake Lawson of Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, and Avery Warner of Issaquah, Wash., also survive her.
According to her family, Mrs. Hamilton cherished her many friends and neighbors, and always maintained that she and her husband had chosen the best place in the world to live and raise their family.
A service for Mrs. Hamilton is scheduled at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Hood Mortuary, with the Rev. Myron Darmour, with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, officiating.
Memorial donations may be made to the Home Health Department of the San Juan Basin Health Department, P.O. Box 140, Durango, CO 81302.
Ruby Catherine Jack
Longtime Kirtland, N.M., resident Ruby Catherine Jack died in her home in Kirtland on Friday, May 21, 2004. She was 83 and died from cancer.
Mrs. Jack had a number of friends in the Durango area.
A viewing will be held beginning at noon Friday at the Kirtland LDF Chapel on County Road 6100 in Kirtland, N.M. Services will be held at the same location at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Virginia W. Matis
Virginia W. Matis, died Wednesday, May 19, 2004, at Four Corners Health Care Center. She was 88.
Mrs. Matis was born April 8, 1916, in Denver, the daughter of Leroy and Ada Williams. Her father was a member of the state House of Representatives for two years.
The family split its time between Denver and the Kruse Mansion, their Central City home, where her father had a law office across the street from the Central City Opera House. He was a mining attorney.
Mrs. Matis spent many summers riding burros, hiking and visiting the opera house.
Mrs. Matis earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, in 1939. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and a charter member of the university ski team. The ski team, consisting of men and woman, would take the train to Rollinsville, through Moffat Tunnel, to Winter Park for meets.
Mrs. Matis also climbed many of the state's 14,000-foot peaks as a member of the Junior Colorado Mountain Club.
After she moved to Ignacio to teach fourth-grade at the Indian School she married Arvo Matis on July 20, 1940, in Denver. The couple honeymooned in the Winter Park Ski Area the year it opened.
The couple moved to Durango where they raised three children.
Mrs. Matis substitute taught in Durango School District 9-R for three years, then two years at Animas School, which is now the Animas Museum, and two years at Riverview Elementary School.
Mrs. Matis was a member of the American Association of University Women, a bridge club, a sewing club and St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
She enjoyed dancing at such landmarks as the Belmont and the spring-suspended floor at the Elk's Lodge to the tunes of local pianist Ernie Anderson. She also enjoyed skiing, hiking, fishing and camping. She taught her children to appreciate the outdoors.
As a skier, Mrs. Matis tested slopes around the state. Many of the ski areas had only rope tows, which resulted in Mrs. Matis spending many hours mending the leather gloves of family members that were damaged by the rope.
Mrs. Matis owned hickory skis and would fasten fur or canvas skins on them to make the trek to the top of slopes without lifts. She also taught skiing at Chapman Hill, then called Third Avenue.
"Her adventurous spirit encouraged us as her children to try to achieve our dreams," Mrs. Matis' daughter, Jane Aaby, of Monument, said. "She had patience and kindness toward everyone. I've been told she didn't have a mean bone in her body."
Mrs. Matis is survived by her husband of 64 years; two daughters, Mary Jane Aaby, of Monument, and Susanne Mathewson, of Mesa, Ariz.; and a son, Clark Arvo Matis, of Charlotte, Vt. She also is survived by grandchildren Krista Levine, of Chandler, Ariz., John Erik Aaby, of Silverthorne, Christopher Aaby and Thomas Aaby, both of Monument, and Eric Matis, of Charlotte, Vt. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive her.
She was preceded in death by two brothers and a sister.
A celebration of her life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 29, 2004, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Durango.
Cremation will occur at Hood Mortuary.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Hospice of Mercy, 3801 Main Ave., Durango CO 81301.