Hard work, family defined long-time Eagle resident
Special to the Enterprise
Vail, CO Colorado
“Independent” is perhaps the first word that comes to mind when describing long-time Eagle resident Teresa Lewis. Those who know her would likely also use the words “hard-working,” “capable” and “beloved.”
Teresa died Nov. 11 on her 94th birthday. With the support of a loving family, she lived independently for her entire life.
“Oh yes, she was a very independent woman,” recalls niece Pat Poole of Las Vegas, “I can’t help but think that if all of us children had watched her and imitated her, we would have grown up living on the edge, and living each day to its absolute fullest.”
Teresa Caveney was born in 1916 in Chicago. Her father was a successful businessman. By her own admission, Teresa was not brought up to be a working woman. Her adventurous spirit changed that destiny.
She was 14 years old and her little sister was just 10 when their mother died of breast cancer. Her father, daunted by the task of raising the girls, readily accepted the offer when a business associate, Clyde Lloyd, invited the young women to spend the summer on his ranch in the Colorado mountains.
Teresa knew she was in for an adventure as soon as the train she was riding neared the Eagle station. Just east of town, the cowboys on the Lloyd ranch (now the Diamond Star ranch) greeted the arriving guests by galloping their horses alongside the train, whooping and hollering.
For several years, the Caveney sisters spent summers at the Lloyd ranch riding horses, fishing and camping. Teresa, the eldest sister, was allowed to attend occasional dances in town.
During a 1931 horseback trip to “Skyland,” (Lake Charles) the high-country resort operated by the Lloyds 14-year-old Teresa met Harry Lewis, a strapping young athlete. When she went back to Chicago for the school year, Harry and Teresa exchanged letters. By the time she was 16, she decided Harry was the man for her. When Teresa turned 18, her father bought her a one-way train ticket from Chicago to Eagle. She and Harry were married four days later on Oct. 17, 1935 in a civil ceremony in Denver.
“I would do it all over again. He was the love of my life,” Teresa recently told granddaughter Blair Lee.
The young bride who had no idea how to cook eventually, with the guidance of her mother-in-law, Rosie Lewis, mastered the old, wood-fueled cook stove. Teresa in fact became an excellent cook who shared her skills and recipes with her family.
Harry Lewis came from a family of mercantile store operators, with stores in Red Cliff, Gilman, Eagle and Gypsum. Teresa quickly became his work partner. She would drive the grocery truck over Loveland Pass to Denver to pick up produce. She stocked shelves, waited on customers and helped keep the books.
“She never took a paycheck her entire life,” recalls Lee. In fact, she never obtained a social security number until later in life when she needed one for some government dealings.
In 1954, Teresa and Harry bought out his brother’s interest in the Eagle store, and began their own operation of the H.W. Lewis General Mercantile. The store was located on the corner of third and Broadway, where the Wells Fargo bank now stands. A true mercantile store, the locals shopped there for everything from pork chops to cowboy boots.
Understanding the ebb and flow of an agricultural economy, the Lewis’ carried credit for many of their customers, who often could only pay up the bill once a year, recalls son-in-law Joe Macy.
For a number of years, the Lewis family lived on a ranch just north of Eagle. They eventually moved into town.
The store operation was always a family affair. As soon as their three daughters were old enough, they too would come in to help unload grocery trucks and put merchandise in place. In later years, when the grandkids came to visit, they would be put to work also.
“We worked behind the counter. They would pay us in candy. It was better than Halloween,” laughs Lee.
The hard-working Lewises retired in 1975, when their landlord, a local bank, claimed the store space that they had leased for years. Harry died of heart failure in 1978.
Teresa continued to live independently, enjoying her family and home across from the Eagle Town Park. Her finely detailed needlepoint canvases won purple ribbons at the county fair. She played bridge regularly with friends Jean Johnson, Alice Koonce, and Laurene Knupp. She always loved animals, including her incorrigible dog, Buddy.
She gave up smoking cigarettes when she turned 75, with the stated goal of living to the age of 90. Failing eyesight put an end to some hobbies, but she continued to be a wonderful cook.
“She was a great lady. She was kind of the glue that held the family together,” says Macy.
Teresa was preceded in death by her husband Harry, and their daughter Terryann Harrison. Survivors include daughters Suzann Ross and Kathy Macy; niece Pat Poole; and granddaughters Tori Davis, Blair Lee, Tia Sterkel, Schatzi Callari, Trish Ross, and their spouses, children, and grandchildren, and Teresa’s orange tabby cat, Oscar.
There was cremation, and there will be no memorial service.
Memorial donations can be directed to the Greater Eagle Fire District volunteer program, P.O. Box 961, Eagle, CO. 81631; or to the Eagle library, P.O. Box 240, Eagle, CO. 81631.
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