Marie Ruth Montoya, born July 29, 1920, died Monday.
Marie was born in Antonito in the San Luis valley of southern Colorado. She was born into a farming family and raised by her grandmother, who was a one-room schoolteacher traveling from state to state wherever there was a need. She was a proud graduate of the Class of 1936 from Manaul School in Albuquerque, N.M.
She started working at the Fox Creek resort, bussing tables and working in the kitchen at the age of 13.
Marie married Tobias T. Montoya at a young age, and they went on to build their lives. Forced off working the land in the Dust Bowl era, they migrated north, where they ended up in Eagle County in 1938. There, they lived first in Pando (Camp Hale), where Toby worked on the railroad and Marie worked at the PX in Camp Hale once it was in place.
By this time, they had three young children, Reuben, Dolores and Alisandro (aka Toby or Sandy).
In 1948, they moved into Red Cliff, where Toby began his career as a miner in Gilman. Marie worked at various jobs in the hotels and restaurants in Red Cliff, and served a term as the town’s mayor (alcalde).
When Vail emerged on the scene, Marie was there with the rest of the pioneers. In the meantime, she raised the rest of her children, Lemuel, Ramon and LaVonne. She was proud of the fact that her children had served in every branch of the armed forces.
Vail’s emergence on the scene allowed Marie to pursue her passion, which was working on the front lines wherever people were. Vail provided the perfect opportunities. The stories about the people are filled with names of the rich and famous (Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, Elvis, Clint, Jack Lord, Ken Curtis and, her favorite, Michael Landon). There were many, many others, because, of course, this is Vail, and Marie loved being in the middle of it!
Equally as fun were the people she worked for, the ones she worked with and those that worked for her. A stop at the local butcher on payday to get the thickest steaks was a special treat for the family.
These were more than co-workers, bosses and peers! They were family and friends!
The friends, and stories of Red Cliff in the ’40s and ’50s, are ones that bring smiles even after all these years. Whether they were about the build-up of Camp Hale and the soldiers’ goings and comings, or perhaps the early morning, extremely cold newspaper route, or the parties later on which were reflective of everywhere else in the country enjoying the recovery after World War II.
The names of the friends in Red Cliff reflect the strong history of Colorado itself! Rodriguez, Sandoval, Martinez, Romero, Gallegos, Beck, Albert, Padilla, Duran, Garcia, Owens, Squires, Tafoya, Pacheco and Montoya!
The place names are stories from what seems like such a long time ago.
The stories she could tell about the places like The Casino, The Deli, The Rucksack, The Covered Bridge, The Gallery and a few others around the end of her career. Ah, the stories.
Her passions included a drive in the mountains, particularly to see the fall colors and mountain wildflowers. Whether it was Shrine Pass, Independence or Cottonwood, she loved the thrill of driving mountain roads in summer and winter. She could often be seen speeding up and down the mountain in her little red convertible sports car.
In her quieter moments she enjoyed reading, knitting and working puzzles. The daily crossword puzzle was a nightly ritual she shared with her husband.
Marie is survived by her aforementioned children, brothers (Jack and Kenneth), sisters (Grace, Opal and Pearl), nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and countless nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 50-plus years, Tobias, and several brothers and sisters.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Red Cliff Community Center followed by a reception. Inurnment will be private. To send a condolence to the family, please visit www.baileykentfuneralhome.com.