Philip Andrew Balmforth
After serving his country as a Seabee, Philip Andrew Balmforth, 46, died on June 12, 2004, at his mother's home in Virginia Beach, Va. The cause of death was bladder cancer.
He was born on Nov. 12, 1957, to Stanford Cleworth and Barbara (Deigst) Balmforth in Oxnard, Calif. His father was a naval pilot who was stationed there at the time.
Mr. Balmforth grew up mostly in Virginia, and graduated from high school in Annendale, Va., in 1976.
Following in his father's footsteps, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1978 as a member of the U.S. Naval Construction Force, also known as the Seabees. His specialty was plumbing. During the Gulf War, he and his unit worked 15-hour days building camps to house U.S. Marines.
At various times during his career, he was stationed in Mississippi, Virginia, California, Iceland and Okinawa, Japan. Between 1995 and 1998, he was a naval recruiter in Durango and fell in love with the area.
He married Deborah Cohen on Feb. 8, 1985, in Iceland. They divorced in January 2000.
Mr. Balmforth retired in 2000 with the rank of chief petty officer. He moved to the Cortez area, which he picked as a home after traveling all over the world in the military. Some of his favorite pastimes were fishing, hunting and spending time in the outdoors.
"The thing he loved most were the people he served with and who reported to him," said his former wife, Deborah Karn. "Duty, honor and country - he was really that kind of guy who loved his country."
He is survived by his mother, Barbara Balmforth of Virginia Beach, Va.; former wife, Deborah Karn; a daughter, Nicole of Durango; a son, Jason of Cortez and Durango; his brothers, David Michael Balmforth of Altoona, Pa., Paul Damian Balmforth of Fort Polk, La., and Mark T. Balmforth and Gregory G. Balmforth, both of Las Vegas; and a sister, Ann Elizabeth Coppersmith of Dale City, Va.
Mr. Balmforth was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on July 1, 2004.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, 2004, at the First Baptist Church in Cortez. The church will host a lunch immediately after the service.
Mary Kathryn Todd
Mary Kathryn Todd, 81, died on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004, at Four Corners Health Care Center. The cause of death was complications because of Alzheimer's disease.
She was born on Oct. 16, 1922, in Berkeley, Calif., to Orman Elliott and Fern Simpson Hunter. She married Clayton Todd on June 12, 1946, in Berkeley, and the couple lived in Southern California.
A homemaker who volunteered much of her time when her children reached school age, Mrs. Todd liked to read and play games.
Her daughter Kathleen Arnold remembers playing backgammon and cribbage as well as lots of cards as a family.
"She really supported each of us without judgment," Arnold said. Mrs. Todd had lived in Durango for the last 10 years.
She was preceded in death by her daughter Cheryl Todd.
Mrs. Todd is survived by her husband, Clayton, of Long Beach, Calif.; her daughter, Kathleen Arnold of Ignacio; her son, Ron Todd of Los Alamitos, Calif.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A private family service was held.
Mary Ann Wiggins
Mary Ann Wiggins was born here to an immigrant family almost a hundred years ago. Wiggins, 96, died at Life Care Center in Evergreen on July 29, 2004.
She was born to Joseph and Rose Fanto on March 24, 1908, in Hesperus, and her family was an important part of the history of this area.
"For this town, perhaps the best-known success story of the group (immigrants from Austria and Italy) was that of the Fantos," wrote historian Duane Smith in his bookRocky Mountain Boom Town. "Rose Fanto became a living legend in her day for her generous support of charities, her helping hand and 'beautiful red wine.' She and her miner husband scrimped and saved until they had enough money to open a tavern, which became a social center for the south end of town."
Fanto Park was named in honor of Rose Fanto's philanthropy, and, outside of Animas City, it is the oldest park in Durango.
It was the inspiration for the name of Park Elementary School.
Mrs. Wiggins married Jaime "Jim" Wiggins on July 3, 1941, in Tacoma, Wash. The couple lived in Durango for a time before returning to Washington.
Mrs. Wiggins, who received her education at Mercy Hospital in Denver, pursued a nursing career, which included working on several American Indian reservations in the state of Washington.
She was an active member of the Democratic Party as well as a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Durango.
"Mary was the gentlest person I have ever known. She had the rare gift of love and humor, and nothing made her happier than caring for people," said her daughter-in-law, Angie Wiggins.
"She deeply loved her son, and he loved her. They had a special bond, which I will always treasure. The thing I remember most about Mary was her hands - beautiful and caring."
Mrs. Wiggins was preceded in death by her husband, Jaime Wiggins.
She is survived by her son, James Wiggins Jr. of Golden; her brother, Art Fanto of Encinitas, Calif.; her sister, Louise Ward, of Cordell, Okla.; three grandsons; and one great-grandson.
A funeral was held on Aug. 2, 2004, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Golden. Interment will be at Greenmount Cemetery.
Atha Laurena Wilcox
Atha Laurena Wilcox, 90, died at her Dove Creek home on Friday, Aug. 13, 2004. The cause of death was not disclosed.
She was born in Wiley on June 19, 1914, to Charles Atlas and Mary Elizabeth (Nodine) Davis.
Mrs. Wilcox became a licensed practical nurse and worked a number of years at Denver General Hospital.
She kept her hands busy with needlework, crocheting, quilting, knitting and gardening. After her move to the Dove Creek area five years ago, Mrs. Wilcox became very involved with the Senior Center in Cahone.
Mrs. Wilcox was preceded in death by her husband, Waldron Donald Rhodes; daughter Thelma Elizabeth Rhodes in 1938; and grandson Donald E. Rhodes in 2003.
She is survived by her sons, Donald Rhodes of Ashfork, Ariz., and Charles Rhodes of Dove Creek; her stepson, Wayne Wilcox of Casper, Wyo.; her sister, Charlene Snare of Denver; four grandchildren, including Tammy Tentler of Cortez; 12 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
She lived in Breen for many years before moving to Dove Creek. A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004, in the breakfast room at the Day's Inn, next to Fitness Works on County Road 203, just north of Durango.
A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, 2004, at the Cedar Cemetery in Montrose.
Ronald 'Ron' Lunsford
Known for his generous spirit, Ronald "Ron" Lunsford, 64, died on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004, at Four Corners Health Care Center. The cause of death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Mr. Lunsford was born on July 27, 1940, in Denver, and was adopted by Loyd and Alice Lunsford, of Ignacio, on Sept. 19, 1941. He attended schools in Ignacio.
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Ignacio High School. After his discharge, he became a civilian employee at Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, Utah. Mr. Lunsford worked in the Alcohol & Drug Division as a control officer for 17 years. At the same time, he attended classes at Weber College in Salt Lake City and received a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Throughout his career and continuing into retirement, Mr. Lunsford mentored an extraordinary number of people, many of whom remained close friends.
"You know, he would give you the shirt off his back, in the dead of winter, if it would help you warm up, just to make one feel better about life," said Sam English, an American Indian artist and good friend of Mr. Lunsford. "Just little things; he was a giving man and didn't want one worrying about his personal well-being; just one of those spiritual beings who cared and loved human beings."
Mr. Lunsford was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Riggin Lunsford, and his stepson Tony Gull.
He is survived by stepson Davie Stolworthy; aunts Ardena Figgins of Ontario, Calif., Davidena Flack of Montrose and Catharine Dickey of Bloomfield, N.M.; and several cousins, including Donna Young Barry of Ignacio and Jim Frahm of Bayfield.
Cremation has occurred. A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Ignacio East Cemetery. The Rev. Myron T. "Mike" Darmour will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, 375 E. Park Ave., Durango, CO 81301.
Walter Ray 'Pete' Heiman
Walter Ray "Pete" Heiman, 87, died on Aug. 15, 2004, in Mesa, Ariz. The cause of death was pulmonary disease.
He was born on Jan. 6, 1917, in Pawnee, Okla., to George and Nora (Willard) Heiman. After attending schools in Masham and Oak Grove, Okla., he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Mr. Heiman enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, serving in the 142nd General Hospital Corps in the South Pacific until 1945. During the war, he was stationed in both Fiji and India. For his service, Mr. Heiman received the Asian Pacific Service Ribbon, a Bronze Service Star, a Defense Service Ribbon and a Good Conduct Medal.
He married Geneva Ball on Aug. 12, 1945, in Topeka, Kan. The couple moved to Durango in 1946, where he worked construction, was a partner in Square Deal Builders and retired from Fort Lewis College as carpenter maintenance foreman in 1982.
During the past 22 years, he and his wife had shared residency between Durango and Mesa, Ariz. Some of his favorite pastimes included square and round dancing, tennis and daily walking. He was an avid water skier and snowmobiler. He also enjoyed fishing and playing penny-ante poker with his friends.
He is survived by his wife, Geneva; and cousin Lena Wells of Pawnee, Okla.
Mr. Heiman was a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks No. 507 Durango and the 142nd General Hospital Corps Retirees.
Visitation will take place from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday at Hood Mortuary. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Hood Mortuary, followed by interment at Greenmount Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to RTA Hospice, 2025 N. Third St., Suite 205, Phoenix, AZ 85004, or to a charity of your choice.
Jack Glenn Schmittel
Longtime Durango resident Jack Glenn Schmittel, 78, died Thursday, Aug. 12, 2004, at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Mr. Schmittel was born Nov. 30, 1925, in Center to Orville A. and Minnie Frances (Hartman) Schmittel. He was the youngest of 12 children.
Mr. Schmittel served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was stationed at Pearl Harbor.
He married Merelyn Johnson on May 18, 1950, in Alamosa.
Mr. Schmittel was in the construction business and enjoyed working with and building things from wood. He was best known for the construction of the Rotary Park gazebo in Durango.
His hobbies were fishing, hunting and going out in his boat. He also found computers interesting.
Mr. Schmittel is survived by his wife of Cortez; his brother, Howard; his sister, Dorothy; his three children, Robin Schmittel of Mancos, Susan Hillmeyer of Durango and Barbara Davis of Glendale, Ariz.; six grandchildren, Kendra Schmittel-Woodman, Sean Hillmeyer, Adam Davis, Katelyn Hillmeyer, Brianna Schmittel and Kyle Davis; and one great-grandson, Beau Woodman.
Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Ertel Memorial Chapel in Cortez with Pastor Larry Chappell of the Lighthouse Baptist Church officiating.
Memorial contributions can be made in Mr. Schmittel's memory to any charity concentrating on lung or asthma conditions, or a research fund for pulmonary fibrosis.
For more obituary information, go to www.ertelfuneralhome.com and click on the obituary section.
Robert 'Bob' Hemsted
A man who spent his life traveling the world, Robert "Bob" Hemsted died on Monday, Aug. 9, 2004, at his home in Durango. He was 81. The cause of death was cancer.
Mr. Hemsted was born on July 16, 1923, in Redding, Calif., to Karl and Lillian Hemsted. He was raised in a California ranching family. In World War II, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army, and after the war, began a 37-year career with TWA as a commercial pilot.
He married June Hemsted in 1948. The marriage was later dissolved. In 1988, he married Lura Weir Cano in Durango.
He enjoyed deep-sea diving and once conducted deep-sea research in a miniature submarine to study how deep fish can live. He was also involved in research on African safaris, studying the mites on different animals. He lived in Egypt, the Bahamas, California and New York before retiring to Durango.
His hobbies were photography, cooking, golf, reading and sailing.
"He lived a good full life doing exactly what he wanted to do," said Mrs. Hemsted. "He loved being a pilot and meeting so many people."
Mr. Hemsted was preceded in death by his son James Hemsted.
He is survived by his wife, Lura Hemsted of Durango; daughters JoAnn Relyea of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., and Barbara Smith of Miami, Fla.; son Jeffrey Hemsted of Eureka, Calif.; stepdaughters Carlan Maynes, Michelle Kimsey and Nicole Short, all of Durango; twin brother Richard Hemsted of Anderson, Calif.; sister Mildred Summerfield of Green Brae, Calif.; 16 grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has occurred. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, 375 E. Park Ave., Durango, CO 81301; or the Hillcrest Junior Golf Foundation, 2300 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301.