John Edward DeMers (8/12/2005)
A former high-school coach and teacher, John Edward DeMers, 78, died on Friday, Aug. 5, 2005, in Colorado Springs. The cause of death was pneumonia as a complication of Alzheimer's disease.
Born prematurely in St. Paul, Minn., to Edward and Mary (Bodka) DeMers on Nov. 15, 1926, his family moved to Denver when he was a toddler. After graduating from high school, Mr. DeMers joined the Navy and served in the Pacific theater during World War II.
When the war ended, he used the GI Bill to attend the University of Denver, where he earned his teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree in education in 1950. Later, he earned his master's in education at Western State College in Gunnison and pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Oregon and Dr. Ethna Reed's Reading Diagnostic Institute in Salt Lake City.
He married his high-school sweetheart, Patsy, in 1947.
Mr. DeMers was hired by the Ignacio School District in the 1952 school year to be the athletic director. He may be remembered as the coach of the Ignacio 11, which beat Manitou Springs in the Class � semifinals that year.
In 1953, Mr. DeMers became the athletic director of the Durango schools. He was the assistant coach of the football team that won the state championship, and head coach of the basketball and baseball teams.
The family treasures a clipping from The Durango Herald dated June 19, 1953, naming Mr. DeMers as the "New Demon Coach." When not coaching, he taught math, social studies and physical education in both school districts.
"He was known for wanting his team players to 'pay attention in class,'" said his daughter Renee Smith, "because the games - win or lose - were short-term, but the lessons in the classroom were for life, and he wanted each of them to enjoy a good life.'"
Mr. DeMers left Durango to coach and teach in Colorado Springs, which was nearer to his widowed mother and two youngest siblings. In addition to his teaching career, he served as an elected advocate for teachers both in the state and nationally. He ended his career in education as a high-school principal.
His family said that in addition to his commitment to his students as an educator, he ensured that four of his five children had a college education, and that his son with learning disabilities could read and write.
He was a devout parishioner at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Colorado Springs.
Mr. DeMers enjoyed storytelling, arts, crafts, carpentry, sports (both as a participant and a spectator), the outdoors, travel and music. He also loved reading, history, math, anatomy and physiology, geography and geology. He enjoyed a friendly game of poker or cribbage.
His family said he embraced life, lived well and laughed often.
He was preceded in death by his son Rick DeMers.
Mr. DeMers is survived by his wife, Patsy DeMers of Colorado Springs; sons Rob DeMers of Crestone and Randy DeMers of Erie, Penn.; daughters Rosann Johnson of Grand Junction and Renee Smith of Colorado Springs; brothers Robert DeMers of Grass Valley, Calif., George DeMers of Imperial Beach, Calif., and Joseph DeMers of Las Vegas; sisters Grace Goetzfried of Lakewood and Rosemary Turelli of Castle Rock; and nine grandchildren.
Cremation has occurred.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Kids Crossing, 1440 East Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80910; or the Durango Foundation for Educational Excellence, 201 E. 12th St., Durango, CO 81301.
Dane D. Mestas (8/11/2005)
A lifelong resident of Durango, Dane D. Mestas died at Mercy Medical Center from internal injuries suffered in a car accident on Monday, Aug. 8, 2005. He was 41.
He was born to Roger and Dolores Mestas Sr. on Jan. 5, 1964, in Durango. He was active in sports throughout his years at Durango High School.
Mr. Mestas was employed by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for 16 years.
As an aspiring artist, he loved to draw. He also had a passion for music.
He enjoyed making people laugh and spending time with his family and friends.
Mr. Mestas is survived by his father Roger Mestas Sr. of Durango; sisters Barbara Mayberry of Oklahoma, and Iva Esquibel, Dina Mestas and Valerie Garcia, all of Durango; brothers Joey Mestas of Durango and Roger Mestas and Sam Mestas, both of Ignacio; daughter Latoya Mestas of Durango; sons Dane Mestas Jr., and Timothy Trujillo, both of Durango; one grandson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A visitation will take place from noon to 8 p.m. today at Hood Mortuary, and a rosary will be recited at 6 p.m. today at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Burial will follow in La Posta Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 254 East Fifth Ave., Durango, CO 81301.
Sylvia V. (Wright) Brooks (8/11/2005)
A former resident of Cortez and Durango, Sylvia V. (Wright) Brooks died Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005, in Lubbock, Texas. The cause of death was a heart attack.
She was born Sept. 17, 1919, in Centrahoma, Okla. At the age of 15, in 1934, she married Ernest Brooks in Oklahoma. After attending the Waxahachie Bible College outside Dallas, the couple spent the rest of their lives working in churches, often helping to start them up.
After working in Arizona, they moved to Cortez, and later, Durango. The Brookses were associated with, among others, the Assemblies of God and Foursquare churches. They also served a church in Silverton. The Brooks family lived in Durango from 1948 to 1966.
As wood was scarce when they moved here, Mr. Brooks built a house out of ammunition boxes on County Road 205 near Florida Road. The house still stands.
When Mr. and Mrs. Brooks left Durango, they moved to Flora Vista, N.M., and they spent many years in Farmington working with various churches. They lived in the area until his death in 1995, when Mrs. Brooks moved to Lubbock.
Her family said she continued to be a faithful servant to the Lord in Texas.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Ernest Brooks.
Mrs. Brooks is survived by her sons Merlin Brooks of Cottonwood, Ariz., Eugene Brooks of Albuquerque, Cliff Brooks of Boerne, Texas, and Don Brooks of Lubbock; sisters Wilene Costanzo of Lexington, Ken., and Bernice Wright of Medford, Ore.; brother J.D. Wright of Medford, Ore.; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Cope Memorial Chapel, 404 W. Arrington Street in Farmington. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, also at Cope Memorial Chapel. Burial will follow at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Farmington.
Robert Franklin Eggleston (8/8/2005)
Robert Franklin Eggleston died Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005, at Mercy Medical Center. He was 64.
A native of Bergland, Mich., Eggleston was born Oct. 25, 1940, to Charley and Mary Jane Blackwell Eggleston. His parents moved the family to Chimney Rock when he was 5.
Mr. Eggleston lived throughout Southwest Colorado and spent the last 13 years in Arboles.
During the Vietnam War, Mr. Eggleston served in the Navy.
Friends and family say he loved the physical nature of his work, logging.
He also enjoyed restoring old trucks in his spare time.
Eggleston is survived by his mother Mary; son Robert of Florence; daughter Tammy Pallach of Meeker; two sisters, Patsy Alford of Arboles and Betty Hoover of Ignacio; five grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Charley.
No public services are planned.
James O. Coffer (8/6/2005)
James Oliver Coffer, 87, died at his home in Aztec after falling in the shower on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005. He was born in Phoenix on June 29, 1918.
His family said, �If there was a garage sale within 10 miles, he�d be there; an intruding weed in his 2�-acre garden, he�d pluck it out.� Mr. Coffer is survived by his wife, Velma Coffer; sons Robert Coffer, Harold Coffer and Jerry Coffer; daughters Beverly Riggins and Patricia Coffer; brothers Henry Coffer, Arthur Coffer and Carl Coffer; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
A funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at Crestview Baptist Church, 4400 E. Main St. in Farmington. The Rev. Wes McAffee will officiate. Interment will follow at Memory Gardens Cemetery.
The family asks that contributions be made to a charity of your choice in Mr. Coffer�s memory.
Thomas McEwen Walker (8/5/2005)
A former Cortez mayor, Thomas McEwen Walker, 80, died at his home in Phoenix on July 19, 2005. The cause of death was renal failure.
He was born to Cortez pioneers Stephen Girard �Sam� and Inez (McEwen) Walker on April 11, 1925. He was the nephew of Mildred Needham of Durango.
During his school years, Mr. Walker worked for his father at Cortez Mercantile and operated his own popcorn stand at Main Street and Market Avenue when he was 10 years old. He attended Cortez public schools and was valedictorian of Cortez High School Class of 1942.
Mr. Walker joined the U.S. Army in 1943, where he served in communications with the Signal Corp in the Burma-Chinese Theater during World War II. After his discharge, he attended the University of Den ver. Mr. Walker received his bachelor�s of business and accounting in 1950.
His first business venture was a partnership with Dean and Max McClellan, mining for uranium in the Gyp Valley near Slickrock. With proceeds from the mining enterprise, he and Max McClellan purchased the Cortez Home and Auto (the Firestone Store) from Francis Griswald in 1953.
At this time, Mr. Walker became active in the Cortez community as a member of the 20-30 Club, Toastmasters, American Legion, Lions Club and the Elks Lodge. He served on the City Council and the sanitation committee. His stint on the council led to his election as mayor of Cortez in 1958.
In September 1955, Mr. Walker married Ruby Terrell in Cortez. The couple worked side by side at the Firestone Store until its sale in 1966. They then entered the world of fast food � building and running the Chow Hound Drive-In in 1967.
In 1972, the Walkers bought a trailer park near Glendale, Ariz. Mr. Walker continued his charitable work with the Glendale Evening Lions Club.
He particularly enjoyed the various projects like pancake breakfasts that raised funds for the blind, hearing impaired and underprivileged children. He also enjoyed golfing and reading, particularly about economic freedom and financial markets.
Mr. Walker is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Ruby Walker of Phoenix; son Michael Walker of Irvine, Calif.; daughters Deborah Walker of Durango and Sue Buss of Scottsdale, Ariz.; sister Millie Brown of Scottsdale; three grandchildren; and nieces, a nephew and cousins.
Cremation has occurred. No services are planned.
Keith R. Miller (8/3/2005)
Keith R. Miller, 53, died Thursday, July 7, 2005, in Durango, after an accident while felling trees.
He was born to Richard and Rhea Miller in Franklin, N.H., on May 23, 1952. Mr. Miller graduated from Franklin High School in 1970 and served in the U.S. Army shortly thereafter. His service included one tour in Vietnam.
He had lived in Durango for nine years, where he had worked at both City Markets, Carvers Brewing Pub, La Plata County, as a private contractor and as a general carpenter for Terry and Rhonda Hunt.
"He has traveled all over this country and Canada," said his mother. "He loved to see new places."
His friend Sherri Rex said, "Of all the places he loved, most of all was Durango."
His family said Mr. Miller was happy and did a lot of good.
He is survived by his parents Richard and Rhea Miller of Hollister, Mo.; brothers Richard Miller and Robert Miller, both of Reed Spring, Mo.; sisters Sue Hogan of Woodbine, Ga., and Lynne Penzien of Snellville, Ga.; numerous nieces and nephews; and many friends in Durango.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wallace Lake on Missionary Ridge. Everyone is welcome, and attendees are asked to dress casually and bring their own beer.
Terry Ann O'Karma (8/2/2005)
A teacher at Needham Elementary School, Terry Ann O'Karma died at her home in Durango on Sunday, July 31, 2005. She was 48. The cause of death was brain cancer.
She was born to C.H. and Patricia Holsey in Denver on Sept. 17, 1956. Mrs. O'Karma grew up in Durango, graduating from Durango High School in 1974 and later from Fort Lewis College in 1986 with a teaching degree. She subsequently earned her Master's in education.
On May 8, 1983, she married Randall O'Karma in Durango.
Mrs. O'Karma was an educator for 18 years, teaching first and second grades. "She poured her heart and time into educating," said her husband.
Mrs. O'Karma enjoyed boating, reading, writing, traveling and vacations with her family. "She loved spending all of her time with friends and family,' said Mr. O'Karma.
Throughout her life she attended St. Paul's Lutheran and, more recently, Christ the King Lutheran churches.
She is survived by her husband Randall O'Karma; children Amber O'Karma and Brandon O'Karma, both of Durango; mother Patricia Holsey of Durango; sister Cindy Yeager of Durango; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has occurred. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Christ the King Lutheran Church. The Rev. Jeff Dobesh of First Baptist Church of Durango will officiate. Immediately following the service, Mrs. O'Karma's cremains will be interred at Greenmount Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 3801 N. Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301; or to the Friends of the Durango Public Library Memorial Fund for Terry O'Karma (to buy library books in her name), c/o Durango Public Library, 1188 East Second Ave., Durango, CO 81301.