Ellen Rozelle Walker — Rose — Scanlon
Ellen Rozelle Walker — Rose — Scanlon, born May 22, 1921, slipped the mortal coil on Aug. 25 at 10:05 p.m. She enjoyed 102 years of this beautiful thing we humans call life.
Ellen, or as her closest family called her, Edie, passed peacefully as the skies of the San Luis Valley opened up with some much-needed rain. Having been born of tenant farmers, and having survived The Great Depression as a tenant farmer’s daughter, she knew the importance of life-giving water — she waited for the rain; she passed peacefully as the sky wept and welcomed her home.
Ellen, the daughter of Tivis Aquilla Walker and his wife Ethelyn May Story greeted this world at high noon, according to her birth certificate, a document that has long since disintegrated, but her desire to write it all down and to never forget where she came from, preserved.
Ellen Rozelle Walker was born in Buffalo, Wilson County, Kan. Her siblings, twins, Almeda May and Tivis Dean, along with Tivis Sr.’s youngest brother, Charley Walker, 12 at the time, whose parents died of the Spanish Flu in 1918, made the long journey from Buffalo, Kan., a place that is barely on the map, to Olathe, Colo., in a model T Ford when she was 13 months old — another fact written down in her own hand because she believed that who we are is where we come from, and that is the most important thing of all.
Over the course of several years Ethelyn and Tivis welcomed the rest of Ellen’s family into the world: Lydia Evelyn Walker (Bear), Imogene Ione Walker (Lewis), LaVeta Rose Walker (Moreland), John William Walker, and Betty Jayne Walker (White).
Their life was full of love and joy, but like so many of that era, it was fraught with hardship and sadness. Her brother John died in infancy, and when Ellen was nine years old, her sister Almeda died of scarlet fever. When Ellen was 12, her father died suddenly on Jan. 16, 1933, during the depths of The Great Depression. His total life savings was in his pocket in the form of two silver dollars. Her brother, Tivis Dean, went to work at 13 years old to help support the family, and Ethelyn used the majority of Tivis’ $2,000 Navy life insurance to buy a nice two-story house on 17 acres a mile from Olathe, Colo. Ethelyn leased out about 15 of the acres and the family farmed the rest, raised chickens, picked berries, canned everything they could get their hands on, mended and wore hand-me-down clothes from the church ladies, milked their own cow, and did just about anything else that would make or save a dime. Together the family survived the lean years by supporting and loving one another through thick and thin and by always sticking together.
In her older years, while watching her great-grandsons, Jackson and Avery, she would recall how hard driving cross country with three children in diapers, without the disposable stuff we have now, and a 12-year-old boy, must have been, and reminisced on how it was a testament to the tenacity of folks “back” then, especially her “mama,” Ethelyn. Her roots are what made her the person so many loved and relied on. She will be missed tremendously.
Ellen was always a warrior, and a truly positive force to be reckoned with. She joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943 because she wanted to help — Ellen was the ultimate helper. Ellen made everything and everyone she touched better.
She married her first husband, Jack Harold Rose, on Oct. 9, 1943, when she was 22 years old. Together they had three children: Jacquie Ellen Rose (Dick Petrino) on July 6, 1944, Gregory Dean Rose on May 9, 1948 (Susan Williams (mother of his children) / Karen Lyons), and Debra Ann Rose (Billy Joe Dilley) on Feb. 1, 1956.
Ellen was ever the rebel in more ways than one. In 1962, against the wishes of society, she decided she wanted to have a job. Like other strong women, she strove to break the mold of what women “should” do, so, she went to work at the Federal Center in Denver. She practiced and practiced to pass the typing test and became an entry level typist. Over the years, she moved up the ranks to work in the GSA building at the Federal Center as a contract specialist. When asked about that time and why she did it, she would say, “so I could be independent if the time came that I might find myself alone.” Come it did. Just like her own father, Tivis, her first husband, Jack Rose, passed unexpectedly on Dec. 23, 1975; they were married 32 years.
Ellen continued working at the Federal Center, which is where she met her second husband Robert Scanlon. They were married in Las Vegas and spent their retirement years traveling the United States and the world. He passed in February of 2005, which is when Ellen left the big city of Denver to live in Monte Vista, Colo.
Ellen was the strongest of women. She loved hiking, gardening, and all the shades of pink. She loved sunshine, mountains, roses, and the sound of rain falling on a tin roof. She was a fierce advocate of animals, especially cats. Partly out of necessity and partly out of joy, Ellen was a remarkable seamstress and quilter. She sewed everything from elaborate Halloween costumes to Christmas dresses, doll clothes, bandana shirts, and prom dresses complete with 20 yards of pink chiffon. Her quilts were one of a kind and won many awards. She was a member of too many clubs to list and was forever the social butterfly. She never had a bad word to say about anyone, and her perspective was always welcome and spot on. She believed her health was her wealth and continued to walk long after the best of us would have given up due the pain of arthritis. She simply refused to go to chair. In fact, at the age of 78 she walked over 10 miles into the Weminuche Wilderness above Creede, Colo., a trip she reminisced about often.
Over the years, Ellen welcomed many grandchildren into her arms: Travis Anthony Petrino (Oneida Vaca) and Prentice Rose Petrino, Abigail Ellen Rose and Jason Dean Rose (Emily Hall), Ashley Rose Dilley (Jarrod Dalton) and Chelsea Rose Dilley (Jason Lindsay). As time went on, she welcomed numerous great-grandchildren into her loving embrace and surrounded them with her special kind of wisdom: Isabella Rose Petrino, Jackson Daniel Dalton, Zoe Alice Rose, Luca Simon Petrino, and Avery Jay Lindsay. In addition to her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her nieces and nephews would visit as often as they could and always stayed in touch with cards, flowers, and phone calls. She was incredibly proud of her family and their accomplishments.
At the age of 97, she begrudgingly moved into The Legacy Assisted Living Center. Her daughter-in-law, Susan Williams, graciously became the guardian of her two beloved cats, Arlo and Kit, for which she was forever grateful. She laughed and called herself and everyone in there “the inmates.” But, just like she always did, she made the best of the situation and bloomed where she was planted. She brightened The Legacy with her can-do attitude and positivity. She made numerous friends, enjoyed bingo, and especially loved her nurses. She always wanted to be remembered for her timeless grace and would remind her family often that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. She impressed upon all of us that life is a gift and to put your best foot forward always. Ellen was the best of us, and she will be missed, but her memory and her life lessons will never be forgotten. She used to say, “Love will keep you alive, even when you’re gone," and if that is true, Gram will certainly live forever.
Services will be held at The Legacy, 100 Chico Camino Dr., in Monte Vista, Colo., at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to Conour Animal Shelter, 2825 Sherman Ave., Monte Vista, CO 81144. The following weekend, on Sept. 9, the family will gather graveside in the evening to lay Ellen to rest in Olathe, Colo., alongside Mama, Tivis Sr., Almeda, Imogene, LeVeta, Eveyln, John William, and her first husband, Jack Rose.