Lelia Elva (Koontz) Fox

Former Durango resident Lelia Elva (Koontz) Fox died Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Phoenix. She was eight months shy of her 100th birthday.

Known as Elva, she was born Aug. 4, 1913, to Leslie C. and Elsie Josephine Henry Koontz at home on her family’s farm near Dodge City, Kan. Mrs. Fox was the second of 10 children.

“Mom was a nature girl,” her sons Carl and Larry Fox said. “In high school, she planted and tended her own garden, growing flowers, vegetables and fruits. Her prize-winning plants netted her a bundle of ribbons from the fair.”

Mrs. Fox taught elementary grades in a one-room schoolhouse in Jetmore, Kan.

During the Great Depression, she attended college at Fort Hays, where she met her future husband, Maynard Fox. The couple married in June 1937 at her family’s home in Hodgeman County, Kan. Mrs. Fox was only a few semester hours away from her degree in education when they moved to another state and started their family.

Mr. Fox was a college professor, and the family followed his career, first to South Dakota for 17 years and then to Fort Lewis College in 1965, where Mr. Fox taught until his retirement in 1978. The Foxes lived in Durango until 1992.

“She was enthralled with flowers, birds and butterflies,” her sons said. “During her life in Durango, she participated in many bird counts and was considered an expert on birds of the Southwest U.S.”

Mrs. Fox was the president of the local Audubon Society for many years and led numerous bird walks. While she was president, the club also hosted the annual conference of the Colorado Field Ornithologists at least once. She was also a member of the Garden Club of Durango and president more than once.

“She was green before green was popular,” said fellow Garden Club member Karen Anesi. “She was responsible for many of our civic beautification projects, and most of the dragon’s blood sedum you see all over town as ground cover started in Elva’s garden.”

Mrs. Fox was an avid record keeper and photographer. She always kept journals, even during the last few days of her life. She also enjoyed traveling. She went to Baja California with her boys on camping trips, taking photographs, and keeping detailed logs of new birds and plants. Mrs. Fox also traveled to Iran, Germany and Thailand to visit family members on overseas assignments and documented everything with journals, photographs and slides.

“Mom knew how to live life to the fullest, and give others joy and comfort,” her sons said. “She had some deep sorrows during her life, etched with pain, yet she never wavered in her faith in God and creation, and always came through the experiences with her basic outlook on life unbroken.”

Mrs. Fox was preceded in death by her husband of almost 65 years, Maynard Fox, in January 2002; and daughter Kathleen Pascale.

She is survived by her sons Larry Fox of Phoenix and Carl Fox of Wichita, Kan.; sister Muriel Otis, of Salina, Kan.; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

A small service was held Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Phoenix. A larger memorial service will be held at a later date in Durango.

Condolences may be sent to Carl Fox, 7942 Meadow Park Circle, Wichita, KS 67205, or via email at octalfox@gmail.com.