Rilla Elizabeth Lyons King

Rilla Elizabeth Lyons King of Summit Ridge was born Dec. 5, 1918, in Linn County, Mo. to Essy Lee Lyons and Emma Ruth Trumbo Lyons. She was the eldest of three girls. Rilla passed away on Dec. 25, 2012.

After finishing high school she immediately began teaching all grades in a one-room school house in Missouri, acquiring her teaching education and certifications during the summers. She taught in this school for seven years. She then moved to Brookfield, Mo. and taught math and science for three years. After 10 years of teaching Rilla was ready to move on to something else.

Rilla's mother, Ruth saw an ad for a math and science teacher in Farmington, Ill. Rilla responded to the ad through a telegram, and the next day received a call from the superintendent of the school in Farmington, N.M.; they were also in need of a math and science teacher. Her uncle had heard of Farmington, N.M., and said it was a nice town not too far from the mountains. So with a little encouragement from her uncle she boarded a train for Grand Junction, Colo. After spending a night in Grand Junction she continued on to Farmington, through Montrose, Ouray and Durango. She said she was not expecting such a scenic trip.

Upon arriving in Farmington she began teaching and attending the Methodist Church. Ida King, her future mother-in-law was her Sunday school teacher. She did not meet Norman until after Christmas, as he had been in the mountains with the family's cattle. Rilla only taught one year and then married Norman when school was out, on Sunday, June 8, 1947. There were three girls born to Norman and Rilla.

Norman and Rilla continued ranching, summering the cattle in the mountains of Southwestern Colorado and wintering the cattle near Farmington. Rilla was very proud of their purebred Hereford cattle and continued to run purebred Herefords after Norman's death in 1977.

Rilla was very active in the state and local Southwest Colorado Cowbelles, and received several awards over the years, including local President from 1958-59, state President from 1966-67, Cowbelle of the Year in 1976, Colorado Cowbelle Life Member Award in 1981, Charter Member of Cowbelles, and Honorary Life Membership SW Cowbelles in 1988. She also received two other industry awards: SWLA Stockman of the Year for 1998, Western Heritage Award from the Durango Pro-Rodeo Company on July 19, 2000, and SW Colorado Cattlemen of the Year for 1999.

Very proud of this western heritage, Rilla kept current on industry affairs late into her life. She was very interested in local history and genealogy. She was also a firm believer that women in agriculture should be well-educated.

Rilla enjoyed sewing, quilting, cooking and making jelly. She also enjoyed playing board and card games with her family and friends. Rilla was a very meticulous lady; she taught her grandkids how to properly set the table and corrected a lot of their grammar. In her elder years she spent a lot of time reading and keeping her mind sharp with crossword and Sudoku puzzles.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her two sisters, Florence Evelyn and Aubby Ruth, and also her husband, Norman.

Rilla is survived by her sister-in-law, Troyetta Battley of Farmington and her husband Bob. She is also survived by her three daughters, Irene Elizabeth, Janice Lee and Helen Marie; grandchildren, Janette, Kristina, Stephanie, Shalla, Norman, Sheldonna, Melisa and Bradley; and by numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, and grand-nieces and nephews.

She is loved and will be missed.