Conor Brewster Willeke (5/4/2007)
Durango resident Conor Brewster Willeke died in a motorcycle accident in Durango on Sunday, April 1, 2007. He was 28.
Mr. Willeke was born to Roger Willeke and Patricia Brewster-Willeke in their home in Otis on July 10, 1978. He grew up in Otis and attended schools there, where he read widely and was in plays, spelling bees and knowledge bowls. His family said his favorite activity was playing football, and Mr. Willeke was known for his leadership and hard play.
After he graduated from Otis High School in 1997, Mr. Willeke worked for a year and then, with his best friend, Tim Kembel, rode motorcycles to California before going to Australia for several months.
After returning from Down Under, he enrolled at Fort Lewis College in the fall of 1999. Durango was his home for the next seven years. Mr. Willeke earned his Bachelor of Science in anthropology from FLC in 2005. His brother Declan graduated at the same time.
During college and since graduation, Mr. Willeke worked in a variety of jobs, including helping his father with farming and his brother Benjamin in construction. For the last three years, Mr. Willeke had worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska during the five-week summer season. He used the money he earned in Alaska to pay for his traveling.
Mr. Willeke enjoyed traveling and riding motorcycles. He went all over the world. While at FLC, he spent a semester teaching and living in a small village in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. In 2005-06, he spent six months visiting several countries in Central and South America with his friend Dave Clark.
Most recently, Mr. Willeke had taken a trip with his parents and brothers to Ireland for Christmas and New Year's to visit his grandmother Elizabeth Brewster. His girlfriend, Robin Johnson, joined him there, and they flew to Africa, spending three months traveling in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Egypt. They had returned to Durango just before the accident happened.
His family said Mr. Willeke enjoyed traveling in the Third World in part because he was devoted to social justice and hoped to some day be able to help the people he met.
Mr. Willeke enjoyed playing with his nephews and taking them to Waterworld in the summer. His family said that he also will be remembered for the e-mails he sent to his grandmother detailing his travels.
Mr. Willeke is survived by his parents, Roger Willeke and Patricia Brewster-Willeke, of Otis; grandmothers Avis Willeke of Otis and Elizabeth Brewster of Dublin, Ireland; brothers Benjamin Willeke of Durango, Jesse Willeke of Broomfield and Declan Willeke of Otis; three nephews; and aunts, uncles and cousins in the United States, Ireland and England.
A celebration of his life was held Saturday, April 7, 2007, at Otis High School. A few days earlier, a remembrance party was held in Durango, where his family and friends scattered some of his ashes by the Animas River and on the FLC campus.
Mr. Willeke was deciding whether to apply to law school or graduate school to continue his studies in anthropology at the time of his death. His family has created the Conor Brewster Willeke Memorial Scholarship at the Colorado Community Bank, 102 North Washington, Otis, CO 80743.
Joseph Bruce Peters (5/3/2007)
Fourth-generation Durangoan Joseph Bruce Peters died at his home on Friday, April 27, 2007. He was 67. The cause of death was a heart attack.
Mr. Peters was born to Joseph and Edna Peters in Durango on May 7, 1939. His paternal and maternal great-grandfathers came to Durango in the 1880s and worked at a smelter. His grandfather worked on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in the early 1900s.
He attended Animas City School, Durango High School and Fort Lewis College.
During his life, Mr. Peters had been a ski instructor at Purgatory, surveyor, bartender and worked at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. His family said he was probably most memorable as the local Orkin man, a business he ran for more than 15 years.
Mr. Peters was interested in foreign cultures and traveled with his family to places as far flung as China, Indonesia and Mexico.
He also traveled extensively as a surveyor, but his family said he always called Durango and the mountains home.
Mr. Peters enjoyed photography, skiing, fishing, camping, gourmet cooking and playing golf. He liked German shepherds and was a passionate Denver Broncos fan. He also had eclectic taste in music, enjoying international selections and, especially, jazz.
His family said his love of learning fueled his passion for reading.
"To those who knew him, he was a gregarious man who enjoyed people, storytelling and practical jokes," they wrote.
Mr. Peters is survived by his daughters Kelly Joanne Peters of Durango and Air Force Lt. Elizabeth Tjandra Ann "TJ" Peters of Dayton, Ohio; son Josef James Peters of Durango; sister Betty Loffer of Durango; and former wife Elizabeth Elly Kuhstoss of Durango.
A memorial service to celebrate his life and share memories will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, May 4, 2007, at the Fort Lewis College Interfaith Chapel. Chaplain Joanne Armstrong will officiate.
Cremation will occur, and his remains will be buried at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5, 2007, at Greenmount Cemetery in the family plot.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 1280 S. Parker Road, Denver, CO 80231. Floral donations will also be accepted.
Bill Richard Pugh (5/3/2007)
Former Durango resident Bill Richard Pugh died of lung cancer in Greeley on Sunday, April 22, 2007. He was 75.
Mr. Pugh was born to Clell and Hazel Pugh in Holly on July 24, 1931. He earned his bachelor's degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and his master's from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
He served in the Air Force for two years and traveled the country during his enlistment.
On Aug. 9, 1953, Mr. Pugh married Barbara Storrs. The marriage ended in divorce.
Mr. Pugh lived and worked in Durango for many years. For most of that time, he was the personnel director for Durango School District 9-R. After retiring from 9-R, he moved to Farmington, where he helped a homeless shelter raise money.
In October 2006, Mr. Pugh moved to Greeley, where he had close friends.
Mr. Pugh served on the 9-R School Board for many years and was a longstanding member of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 507 and later of the Elks Lodge in Farmington.
"Bill spent many a Thursday evening, and as often as he could, fishing with his children and his mother, camping with his family and taking his children skiing where he would sit at the bottom of the hill waiting patiently for them to finish," his family wrote. "There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his children. He was a loving father and a loyal friend."
They said his favorite activity was spending time with family and friends.
Mr. Pugh enjoyed playing golf. He also enjoyed working in his garden, where his family said he grew "the prettiest roses and the greenest of lawns." He also enjoyed watching old movies and reading.
Mr. Pugh was preceded in death by an infant son.
He is survived by his sons Troy Pugh and Grant Pugh, both of Durango; daughter Jana Pugh of Durango; and five grandchildren.
Cremation has occurred. At Mr. Pugh's request, there will be no services.
Memorial contributions may be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006-3517; or Hospice and Palliative Care of Northern Colorado Inc., 2726 W. 11th St. Road, Greeley, CO 80634.
Esther Wilmer (5/1/2007)
Esther Wilmer died Thursday, April 26, 2007, in Thornton. She was 82.
Mrs. Wilmer was born on Nov. 13, 1924, in Farmington to Arthur and Beulah Tubbs. She moved to Allison in 1932. In the early- to mid-1940s, she and her mother operated the switchboard for the Allison, Tiffany and Arboles areas, and she also worked for the phone company in Durango.
Other jobs that Mrs. Wilmer performed included working at the candy counter at Woolworth's, working at Mercy Medical Center and the Coca-Cola bottling plant.
She lived in Raton, N.M., Rio Rancho, N.M., and Denver, but always called Allison home.
Mrs. Wilmer enjoyed crafts such as sewing, and she enjoyed tending her garden. She shared in her passions by taking the time and patience to teach anyone, young or old, to enjoy hobbies, her family said.
Mrs. Wilmer also passed on her love of cards to her grandchildren, and showed them how to cheat with the best of them, her family said.
Mrs. Wilmer's teasing and practical-joking nature helped her to make friends every place she went. She was happiest sitting in front of a slot machine, her family said.
She was preceded in death by her spouse, Joseph Wilmer Jr.
She is survived by sister Anna Lois Wilmer of Bayfield; son Joe Melrose of Durango; daughter Lanora Mulloy-Richter of Broomfield; stepdaughters Virginia Driver of Arp, Texas, and Beth Calhoun of Rio Rancho, N.M.; 13 grandchildren and one step-grandchild, 14 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. today, April 30, 2007, at Hood Mortuary. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, 2007, at Allison Community Church. Pastor Stan Formby will officiate. Burial will follow at Allison-Tiffany Cemetery in Allison.
George G. Adams (5/1/2007)
Former Durango resident George G. Adams died in Grand Junction on Thursday, April 26, 2007. He was 91.
Mr. Adams was born to Earnest John and Bertha Ruth (Seneff) Adams in Colorado Springs on Sept. 4, 1915.
He retired from City Market after working as a bakery supervisor for 26 years, much of that time in Durango.
In addition to their two sons, he and his first wife, Regina (Schmitt) Adams raised their niece, Angela.
On June 9, 1989, he married Virgie Courtney in Las Vegas.
He enjoyed fishing, hunting, traveling and attending Bible studies.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Regina Adams; and son, Richard J. Adams.
He is survived by his second wife of 17 years, Virgie V. (Pendergraft) Adams; son Ronald Adams of Chico, Calif.; stepdaughters Angela Bascou of Cardiff, Calif., Carol (Courtney) Nichols and Carla (Courtney) Richard, both of Grand Junction, and Donna (Courtney) Rudy of Niwot; seven grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 2, 2007, at New Life Church, 1350 N. 7th St., in Grand Junction. The Rev. Mark Quist will officiate.
Burial will take place in Greenmount Cemetery in Durango.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (Cambodia), c/o New Life Church, 1350 N. 7th St., Grand Junction, CO 81501.
Kit Alison Gurule (6/28/2007)
Kit Alison Gurule, 44, died Monday, June 25, 2007, in Wyoming while traveling to Anchorage, Alaska.
Mrs. Gurule was born Oct. 25, 1962, in Detroit, the daughter of Earl and Eleanor Wagner. She married Leonard C. Gurule on Nov. 19, 1988, in Michigan.
She received a bachelor's in geology and geophysics from Michigan State University. Mrs. Gurule worked in the oil and gas industry for eight years before dedicating herself to her family.
Mrs. Gurule enjoyed writing, gardening, traveling and the outdoors. However, her primary passion was her family. While living in Alaska, she always said, "her home was here in La Plata County, Colorado."
Mrs. Gurule is survived by her husband, Leonard Gurule; daughters, Kendall Gurule and Glenn Gurule, all of Anchorage, and Durango; and brother, Keith M. Wagner of Mentor, Ohio.
A celebration of Mrs. Gurule's life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 29, 2007, at Hood Mortuary Chapel. Dr. Dan Straw with the Florida Mesa Presbyterian Church will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Heifer International, Northwest Regional Office, 2220 J. St., Suite 8, Sacramento, CA 95816; or to the American Heart Association, Research Development, c/o La Plata County Heart Fund, P.O. Box 1777, Durango, CO 81302.
Michael Christopher Hoban (6/28/2007)
Michael Christopher Hoban, 70, died Monday, June 25, 2007, at his home in Bayfield.
Mr. Hoban was born in Philadelphia on July 12, 1936, the son of Patrick and Elizabeth Hoban. He was raised in Philadelphia. He lived in Hughesville, Penn., for 34 years.
He was a jeweler, and he managed several different jewelry stores and owned his own store for 15 years. He retired in 1996, and Mr. Hoban and his wife moved to Bayfield in 2006. He began working for the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio as the manager of the gift shop. Mr. Hoban also was active in Bayfield as a member of the Sanitation Board.
Mr. Hoban enjoyed tennis. He was an avid and talented marksman and a founding member of the International Defensive Pistol Association. He won the 2005 Five Gun Championship hosted by the International Defensive Pistol Association. But Mr. Hoban greatest enjoyment came from his children and grandchildren and spending time with his family.
Mr. Hoban was preceded in death by two daughters Robin Demko and Claire Hoban.
He is survived by his wife, Linda Hoban, of Bayfield; sons Michael Hoban of Lakewood, and Paul Hoban of Palm Bay, Fla.; sisters Nancy Lippre and Jane Strickland, both of Philadelphia; brothers Joseph Hoban of Philadelphia and Vincent Hoban of Bangor, Penn.; son-in-law Todd Demko of Bayfield; and three grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 29, 2007, at the Rolling Thunder Hall at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Durango Children's Museum, 802 E. Second Ave., Durango, CO 81301.