Vern Leroy Eshelman

Keywords: Durango Herald,

Former Durango resident Vern Leroy Eshelman died Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Farmington. He was 94.

Mr. Eshelman was born to Roy and Marcia Eshelman on June 6, 1919, in Brighton. One of three children, he grew up on his family's homestead near Bayfield until they lost it in the Depression.

The family later bought a farm on Florida Mesa, where Mr. Eshelman attended Sunnyside School.

He joined the Army in 1940. During World War II, he served in the 7th Division in the South Pacific theater, where he was wounded on Okinawa. Mr. Eshelman was awarded a Purple Heart on April 4, 1945.

After his recovery and discharge with the rank of staff sergeant, he returned to Durango, where he met Louisa Mae Oldfield Short.

The couple married May 20, 1951, in Durango. They bought a farm in Mancos, where they had their two sons.

Later in life, he earned a GED diploma at the urging of his schoolteacher wife.

In 1966, Mr. Eshelman went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the family moved to Teec Nos Pos, Ariz. The job also took them to Shiprock and Kirtland in New Mexico before the couple retired, living in Farmington, with winters spent in Mesa, Ariz.

Mr. Eshelman was an active member of the Masons.

"He and Louisa had a passion for square dancing," according to his family, "and stayed active dancers well into their later years."

The couple also enjoyed traveling and spending time with their grandchildren.

Mr. Eshelman was survived by his wife of 62 years, Louisa Mae Oldfield Short Eshelman of Farmington.

She died eight weeks after he did.

He also is survived by his sons Terry Eshelman of Durango and Ronald Eshelman of Vail, Ariz.; brother, Pete Eshelman of Walnut Creek, Calif.; two grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.