Philip R. Craig (5/12/2007)
Former Durango resident and well-known mystery novelist Philip R. Craig died in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. He was 73.
Mr. Craig was born to Platt and Grace Craig in Santa Monica, Calif. on Dec. 10, 1933.
Along with his sister and three brothers, he was raised on a small cattle ranch south of Durango on County Road 302 that is still in the family.
Until he was 9 or 10 years old, the Craig ranch had no electricity or running water, but the house was full of books. The children would play so hard their shirts would come untucked as they ran, so the ranch was called the "Flying Shirttail."
Mr. Craig rode horseback or walked two miles to the one-room Long Lane School for eight years. There were eight rows of desks, representing eight different grades from left to right.
His family remembers him saying that if you were slow in one subject, you could listen with your left ear to what the previous grade was being taught; if you were fast, you could listen with your right ear to what the class ahead of you was learning.
The school library was a closet with some books from the early 1900s in it, including Tarzan novels.
During the next few years he read 24 of them, thus, he would say, establishing himself as the Tarzan expert of Southwest Colorado.
In the same closet were two or three books about the Campfire Girls that he also read, so he said he was a Campfire Girls expert as well. He started writing at that time, and when he went on to Durango High School, he credited his English teacher, Sharley Pike, for encouraging him to continue.
Because of bad knees and flat feet, Mr. Craig was not allowed to serve in the Korean War, so he enrolled in Boston University in 1951, intending to become a minister.
At BU, he was an avid fencer, being named All-American in 1955 and invited to join the Olympic team. While he earned his bachelor's degree in religion, he had become more interested in writing and literature.
He often said he had actually majored in fencing and minored in bridge.
In December 1957, Mr. Craig married Shirley Jane Prada in Durango.
In 1962, he earned a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. During summers on the Vineyard in the 1960s, he was a stringer for the New Bedford Standard Times.
From 1962 to 1965, he taught English and journalism at Endicott Junior College in Beverly, Mass.
Mr. Craig went on to teach English at Wheelock College in Boston from 1965 to 1999, when he retired as professor emeritus. He was known for taking his students to England, for a hands-on course in English literature. Locals at his favorite pub in Bath once invited him to play on their cricket team.
Mr. Craig's first novel, Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, was published when he was 35.
It would be 20 years until his next one was published. Every year since 1989, Scribner has published a volume of his mystery novels, all of which are set on Martha's Vineyard. A Vineyard Killing was the July 2003 selection of the book club on "Good Morning America."
The 18th book in the Jackson mystery series, Vineyard Stalker, will be published in June, and the final book, which is still untitled, will appear around June 2008.
Scribner also published First Light and Second Sight, which Mr. Craig wrote with William G. Tapply, the author of the Brady Coyne series. Third Strike, the next book in the series, will be published later this year.
Along with his wife, Mr. Craig wrote a cookbook based on the recipes in his mystery series called Delish, the J.W. Jackson Recipes.
After being invited to do so, Mr. Craig donated his papers and other archival materials in 2004 to the Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center at BU.
The Craigs retired to their summer home in Edgartown in 1999, where Mr. Craig enjoyed sailing his catboat, surfcasting for bluefish, cooking and singing in the Island Community Chorus. He liked to garden, go shellfishing, lie on the beach and play the guitar and sing folk songs with his family.
When he could afford it, he and his wife would travel, particularly to sites of ancient civilizations. Together they visited 49 states and 43 countries.
"In every way, he was larger than life," his family wrote.
Mr. Craig is survived by his wife of 49 years, Shirley Jane Prada Craig of Edgartown, Mass.; daughter Kim Lynch of Durango; son Jamie Craig of Edgartown; brothers Kenneth Craig and Howard Craig, both of Durango; sister Martha Walker of Durango; five grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A remembrance will be held in August. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Island Community Chorus, P.O. Box 4157, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Alva Leon Hankla (5/11/2007)
Durango resident Alva Leon Hankla died at his home on Friday, May 4, 2007. He was days away from his 88th birthday.
Mr. Hankla was born to William and Zola Hankla in Goodwell, Okla., on May 15, 1919. After growing up in the Griggs Community, he graduated from Plainview (Texas) High School.
Mr. Hankla served in the Army during World War II. He was stationed in California and Oregon, beginning as a staff sergeant in an artillery unit and finally serving as a mess sergeant.
On June 29, 1943, he married Ina Mae McDaniel in Clayton, N.M.
In 1947, Mr. Hankla and his brother Wilfred bought Imperial Furniture in Boise City, Okla. In 1953, they built a new and expanded store on East Main Street. Six years later, Mr. and Mrs. Hankla bought Wilfred Hankla's share of the business and were sole proprietors until they sold the store in 1984.
In 1989, the Hanklas moved to Durango to be near their daughter, Cheryl Ellis. During their first years in the area, they lived in the Vallecito Resort, where Mr. Hankla enjoyed fishing, and he and his wife liked to square dance.
In Boise City, Mr. Hankla was a member of St. Paul's Methodist Church, was active in the Kiwanis Club and for many years, was the liaison with the local Boy Scout troop. He was also a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.
He was the announcer for the Boise City Town Team Baseball and was a Little League baseball coach. His family said he was an untiring fan at all of his children's high school activities.
Mr. Hankla is survived by his wife of almost 64 years, Ina Hankla, of Durango; son Larry Hankla of Chevy Chase, Md.; daughter Cheryl Ellis of Durango; and three grandchildren.
Services were held at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Boise City on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. Burial took place in the family plot at Cimarron Memorial Cemetery there.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, P.O. Box 3462, Durango, CO 81302; or to St. Paul's First United Methodist Church, 400 East Main, Boise City, OK 73933.
Lanny Williams (5/10/2007)
Ignacio resident Lanny Williams died at Mercy Regional Medical Center on Monday, May 7, 2007. He was 68. The cause of death was undisclosed.
Mr. Williams was born in Silver Plume to David and Mable Williams on Feb. 13, 1939. He grew up there and was in the last class to attend grade school in Silver Plume. He went on to graduate from Georgetown High School, which is just a few miles east of Silver Plume.
As a young man, Mr. Williams was active in the Boy Scouts, which nurtured his love of the outdoors. In his younger days, he was a gifted hunter and fisherman, his family said. He tied his own flies, reloaded ammunition and enjoyed skiing.
On May 20, 1960, he married Barbara J. Churchey in Idaho Springs.
Mr. Williams began his career working in maintenance for Berthoud Ski Area and later, Loveland Ski Area, where he worked for 16 years. He then went to work for the Colorado Department of Transportation Highway Maintenance Division. He worked in Empire Junction for many years before transferring to Wolf Creek Pass. In his final transfer, Mr. Williams came to the Durango hot-asphalt plant, retiring in 1995 after more than 22 years with CDOT.
Mr. Williams enjoyed spending his retirement days at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio.
His family said Mr. Williams especially enjoyed his grandchildren and new great-granddaughter. Throughout his life, he had always worked with his hands, and because of his maintenance and mechanical background, he collected tools for many different trades. Mr. Williams was also a lifelong learner and teacher, passing on his knowledge and skills to his children and grandchildren.
Mr. Williams is survived by his wife of almost 47 years, Barbara Williams of Ignacio; daughters Terri Witcher of Allison and Tamera King of Ignacio; sister Shirley Taussig of Meeker; seven grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; one aunt; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Cremation will occur. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2007, at Pine River Valley Baptist Church. The Rev. David McCaw will officiate.
Memorial contributions may be made to the La Plata County Humane Society, P.O. Box 2164, Durango, CO 81302; or the Ignacio Library, P.O. Box 886, Ignacio, CO 81137.
Richard Stanley Wheeler (5/9/2007)
Durango resident Richard Stanley Wheeler died in his home on Friday, May 4, 2007. He was 78.
Mr. Wheeler was born to Joseph and Miriam (Strausen) Wheeler in Trinidad on May 31, 1928.
Known as "Stretch," he worked as a utility lineman climbing poles and as a fireman on several railroads. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Mr. Wheeler was interested in working with disabled and developmentally challenged people as well as those in trouble with the law. Mr. Wheeler worked for the state of Colorado as a rehabilitation coordinator and parole officer. He was instrumental in establishing the Four Corners Sheltered Workshop and Hilltop House.
"We will forever remember his 'Stretchisms' such as "Hang in there, kid.' 'You better get to getting.' 'We're gonna do it.' 'No messin' around,'" his family wrote.
His granddaughters said that they fondly remember their Grandpa heading off to what their grandmother would call "church" - the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge. He enjoyed playing cards with his buddies, sometimes coming home with as much as $3 or $4.
The Wheeler family said that he will be remembered for his dry sense of humor, which revolved around word play in Spanish and English. Although his language skills were affected by a series of strokes, they said he never lost his will to move forward or his gentle nature.
Mr. Wheeler was preceded in death by his wife of 48 years, Myrna (Spahr) Wheeler.
He is survived by his daughters Su Compton and Kathy Villers, both of Durango; sons Jay Wheeler and Joe Wheeler, both of Durango; brother Jack Wheeler of Salida; four granddaughters; and several nieces and nephews.
Mr. Wheeler requested that there be no services.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Mercy, P.O. Box 3462, Durango, CO 81302; or the nonprofit of the donor's choice.
Philip K. Bannister (5/9/2007)
Durango resident Philip K. Bannister died at Four Corners Health Care Center on Wednesday, May 2, 2007. He was 64.
Mr. Bannister was born in Florida on Aug. 4, 1942. He served in the Air Force and was stationed in Okinawa.
Mr. Bannister earned a master's degree in entomology and a law degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
He worked in Florida, Kansas City and Denver as a photographer for United Press International from 1973 to 1989. Mr. Bannister had a private law practice in Boulder and was a deputy district attorney in Trinidad.
He had many hobbies. Mr. Bannister was an avid cyclist and enjoyed nature photography. He volunteered at the Manna Soup Kitchen and was a member of the Durango Sangha, the local Buddhist community.
No immediate survivors were submitted to the Herald.
A Buddhist memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2007, at the Durango Dharma Center, 2500 Colorado Ave., No. B, off Florida Road.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Manna Soup Kitchen, 1100 Avenida del Sol, Durango, CO 81301; or the Durango Dharma Center, P.O. Box 1631, Durango, CO 81302.
Hortense Mildred Shults Kelley (5/9/2007)
Longtime area resident Hortense Mildred Shults Kelley died at Four Corners Health Care Center on Saturday, May 5, 2007. She was 88.
Mrs. Kelley was born to Roscoe and Sadie Shults in Felt, Idaho, on Mar. 31, 1919.
On May 20, 1940, she married Spurgeon Vernon Kelley in Idaho. He was from Falfa, a small farming community off Colorado Highway 172 in La Plata County, The marriage ended in divorce after 28 years.
She lived in La Plata County for 67 years.
Mrs. Kelley baby-sat and was a candy striper at Community Hospital. She was active in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"Her love was flowers," her daughter Sharon Graham said. "At her house she had every kind, roses, peonies, whatever."
Mrs. Kelley is survived by her sons, Vernon Neal Kelley of Montrose and Roger Dean Kelley of Valley View, Texas; daughters Sharon Audrey Graham of Farmington and Shirley Irene Chase of Moorpark, Calif.; brother Garfield Shults of Caldwell, Idaho; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2007, at Hood Mortuary. A service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2007, at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1775 Florida Road. Burial will follow at Greenmount Cemetery.