Eileen Randall, Wolcott native, dies at 91
More than 100 relatives and friends crowded into St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Eagle last week for a memorial service for life-long county resident Eileen Randall. They came to honor a woman known for her friendly demeanor, sense of humor and work in the community.
Randall, 91, died peacefully in her sleep Sept. 1 at the Heritage Park Nursing Home in Carbondale after a lengthy illness.
Born in Wolcott
Randall was born in Wolcott in 1912 to John and Nell Holland. The doctor who delivered Eileen traveled to Wolcott on a railroad hand car, then walked across the frozen Eagle River to attend the birth.
The Holland ranch holdings covered much of the valley floor at Wolcott and extended up the hill on Bellyache Ridge. That was a time when agriculture was the driving economic force in the county, and Wolcott was a bustling railroad shipping center for local ranchers. As a child, Eileen would play up on the hill in the springs and the country that is now the Red Sky Ranch golf course development.
She attended grade school at Wolcott. For secondary school, she boarded with a family in Gypsum and completed her formal education at Eagle County High School.
“We had a lot of fun,” recalls Gussie Baker, 90, of Gypsum, a lifelong friend of Randall’s. Baker recalls a school friend who was “involved in most everything.” Eileen enjoyed basketball, indoor baseball and acting in school plays.
Eileen started dating her husband-to-be, Rolland Randall, about the same time his brother, Mick, was dating his future spouse, Agnes. The boys competed for use of the family car, a model with a rumble seat that opened out from the rear. The last man to the car had to sit with his date in the rumble seat.
Rolland and Eileen were married in the Catholic Church in Aspen in 1931. Rolland worked for the Joe Allen ranch on lower Brush Creek. Before long, there were three Randall children to take care of: daughters Peggy and Pat, and son Jim. Eileen, like most ranch wives, was a homemaker, gardener, parent, and “chief bottle washer,” recalls daughter Peggy Buckau.
“There was always a dance on Saturday night either in Eagle and Gypsum. Eileen and Rolland were always there.
“We really enjoyed them,” said Baker.
Buckau said she remembers community dances at the school house on Brush Creek. Sleepy kids would be put to rest on a pile of coats in a corner of the room, while the adults danced and socialized.
After about 15 years of ranching, Rolland took a job in town, and the family moved to the tidy little Victorian home on Capital Street. Rolland and Eileen continued to live in that house until health issues prompted the couple to move to a nursing home three years ago.
Eileen found her niche at the County Extension Office, where she worked with kids she called, “my 4-Hers”. In years when the county agent position was vacant, Eileen ran the annual County Fair.
“I never saw anybody work and do for the county like she did … you could rely on Eileen,” Baker said.
Her hard work was appreciated. When she retired in the 1970s, the department gave her a trip to Hawaii as a good-bye gift.
She and Rolland enjoyed traveling in their retirement years, often visiting their grown children, who were scattered about the United States – and never turning down an opportunity to gamble in Las Vegas.
She was active in the Altar and Rosary Society at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Both Rolland and Eileen were active with the local senior citizens group. Eileen had a reputation for entertaining the group on van trips with her chatter and quick sense of humor. She knew not only the group at the Eagle center, but also the active seniors from Basalt and Minturn.
“She loved people,” says Buckau.
Eileen was a gracious person, who was quick to introduce herself with a kind smile when a stranger walked in a room. She enjoyed parties, and liked to wear clothes that had a touch of sparkle.
She loved her children, and like all good grandmothers, considered her grandchildren to be the best ever.
The Randalls remained active in the community until failing health prompted their move to the nursing home three years ago. Although Eileen’s memory failed her, at age 91 she still did not take any medications. She spent the day before she died laughing and chatting with the nursing home staff.
Eileen Randall is survived by her husband, Rolland, 96; daughters, Peggy Buckau of Eagle and Pat Pinkowski of Denver. Her son, Jim, preceded her in death.
Other survivors include a brother, Bill Holland and his wife, Ann, of Arizona; a sister, Margaret Kutz of California; Granddaughter Susan Kus and husband Glen of Florida; grandson Michael Buckau and great-grandson Max Buckau of California; a sister-in-law, Virginia Cooper of Glenwood Springs; several cousins, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association, Rocky Mountain Chapter, 789 Sherman St. Ste. 500, Denver, Colo. 80203; or to St. Mary’s Catholic CHurch, Box 1390, Edwards, Colo. 81632.