Hester-Jane’s memorial service like a family reunion

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Inever met Hester-Jane Cogswell. I wish I had.
Hester-Jane died Dec. 7 — Pearl Harbor Day — but a memorial service for her was held last Saturday upriver at her beloved ranch above Buford.
phjeffburkheadHester-Jane, who had been a resident of Walbridge Wing, would have turned 97 on July 30.
“We wanted to do (the memorial service) on her birthday, but it fell in the middle of the week, so we did it Saturday,” said Jennifer Cogswell, a niece.
The memorial service has been in the planning stages for several months. It included an open house, where guests could view photographs of Hester-Jane from various stages of her life. The service was like one big family reunion.
“There were 70 Cogswells there,” Jennifer said. “Three or four generations. Also there were her bridge friends, Meeker friends and ranchers from all up and down the valley.”
Jennifer said Hester-Jane’s ranch will remain in the family.
Jennifer’s father was Wilton Cogswell’s brother. Hester-Jane and Wilton were married in 1935. They had six children.
“She was an absolute peach,” Jennifer said of her aunt. “She was wonderful. Everybody in the valley loved her.”
Marcia Levy, who lives upriver near Sleepy Cat, knew Hester-Jane for about 25 years.
“There were so many remarkable things about her,” Marcia said. “She was the most amazing person … because she managed to have friends from every age group and with people from every part of the life of the town. She was loyal to everyone. If she was a friend of yours, she stood by your side. She was the glue that kept together an enormously large family, especially considering she was an only child.”
Hester-Jane grew up in Colorado Springs and came to Meeker as an adult. While in her 90s, she wrote a book about her experiences growing up in Colorado Springs, where her family’s homestead is used as the residence for the commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“She came out here and made a life for herself,” Marcia said. “She came out to this part of the world and started from scratch as an adult.
“She was interested in everything. She was curious about everything. She was very well read, very well versed in so many things. Nothing daunted her,” Marcia said. “She had a tremendous sense of humor. She had a wonderful mind, which is why she was such a good bridge player. Her mother taught her to play bridge. She came from a line of very strong, interesting woman.”
Marcia paid Hester-Jane perhaps the best compliment.
“She was someone when you think of people you want to emulate, she’s right at the top of the list.”
I did something last week I hadn’t planned on doing — I played golf for the first time in six years.
I read once where the actor Jack Nicholson took up the game when he turned 50. So, I figured if it was good enough for Jack, then turning 50 was a good time for me to start playing golf again.
I played golf for the first time when I was in my early 40s. I was never very good at it — if I shot under 100 I was happy — but I enjoyed playing, at least most of the time.
Golf can be an exhilarating game, or a maddening one. I can see how playing golf can become an obsession. If you play well, you want to see if you can repeat the performance. Or, if you play poorly, as was often the case with me, you want a chance to redeem yourself. My expectations were never very high. For me, all it took was having one or two good shots, and I would want to get back out there and try again.
When I told a friend I was going to play golf for the first time in six years, he said, “Just keep your head down, and you won’t whiff.”
Well, the golf gods were kind. I’m proud to say I never did whiff.
And, even after the six-year layoff, I enjoyed playing golf so much, I played again the next night.
I stepped out of my house Saturday to walk to the office and was greeted by a cow walking down my street.
Larry Steiner, visiting his grandson who lives across the street from me, said he wondered if the cow had wandered over from the fairgrounds, where the 4-H horse show was going on.
A few minutes later, I saw neighbor Dave Scherbarth and his kids trying to round up the cow. They said it belonged to another neighbor and had gotten out of its pen.
While they were trying to corral the cow, the animal stopped in my front yard long enough to leave several large deposits.
It’s amazing how quickly flies descended on the fresh piles.
Somebody asked me later if my front yard smelled. I said it smelled like a farm.
Not quite sure what to do with the cow poop in my front yard, I decided to scoop up the piles using a shovel. I then hosed down the area.
Nothing like a little fertilizer to make the grass grow.
Upriver resident Horst Rick invited me to join him and a group of nine other people to explore the Spring Cave at South Fork Campground recently. I wanted to go along, but I had to work. I’m sorry I missed out.
“I was tired, dirty, wet and sore, but it was excellent,” Horst said of the cave-exploring experience.
Horst will give a slideshow presentation of the cave tour at a meeting Aug. 22 of the White River Community Association. The meeting will start at 4 p.m. at the Buford Schoolhouse.
Attendance numbers have been steady during the first weeks of the new farmers’ market in Meeker.
“The numbers at the market have been 266, 367 and 300 for the first three weeks, respectively,” said Jason Taylor, a member of the group Foods-Are-Us, which organized the farmers’ market. “The dynamics have changed a bit each week.”
The market, which begins at 8 a.m. and runs through noon, will be held Saturdays through September. The market is located on the west side of Fifth Street, between the courthouse and elementary school.
Cleanup continues at First National Bank of the Rockies in Meeker, which sustained smoke damage during a fire May 23 at Meeker Drug.
During the cleanup, the bank temporarily relocated its loan offices to other parts of the building. The loan offices are located on the west side of the bank building, next door to the drugstore.
“The cleanup is going well,” said Kim Brown, bank manager. ‘We expect to be back in the loan side of the bank no later than Sept. 1. Things are looking up, and it will be great when we get back over there.”
A new coed softball league in Meeker has been popular.
“We have 10 teams this year, and that has pleasantly surprised us all,” said Scott Pierson, director of the Meeker Recreation and Park District. “The 10 teams this year far exceeded our expectations for the program. Perhaps next year we could look at a corporate league and a recreational league.”
Coed softball games are played on Thursday nights.
There have been media reports General Motors was going to reinstate some dealerships in remote areas, but Doug Overton of Northwest Auto in Meeker, said he hadn’t heard from the carmaker, which terminated contracts with car dealerships nationwide as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.
“I also heard that, but so far have not been able to find any truth to that rumor,” Overton said.
GM had informed Overton it would not renew its contract with the local dealership in 2010.
Flags flew at half-staff last week.
“The lowered flags were for the slain Montrose police officer,” said Nancy Amick, Rio Blanco County clerk.
Officers from Rio Blanco County, Rangely and Meeker attended Friday’s funeral service for the 41-year-old officer, who was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance. Two other Montrose police officers were shot and wounded.
Gov. Bill Ritter, who attended the service, said “We take so much for granted with our law enforcement. We believe they’ll protect us, but we forget that every day when they serve, they face the ultimate risk.”
Last week, when I contacted Randy Hampton, public information officer for the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Northwest Region, he was in Las Vegas, where he son was playing in a bowling tournament. Randy said the temperature in Las Vegas was 110 degrees.
I said, “But it’s a dry heat, right?”
Randy said, “My oven is a dry heat, too. I spend very little time in it.”
Carol Jacobson of Craig, owner of Downtown Books and wife of city council member Terry Carwile, died last Wednesday in a boating accident on Green River, in Dinosaur National Park. She was 54.
I met Carol twice during a short trip to Northwest Colorado in April 2008, when I visited the area for the first time to look into the job opportunity with the newspaper.
I first met Carol and her husband when attending Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation’s annual banquet and auction on the Rangely campus. Mitch Bettis, owner/publisher of the Herald Times, introduced me to Carol. They knew each other from Mitch’s newspaper days in Craig.
Ironically, the next day, Mitch and I saw Carol and Terry again, this time when we stopped for breakfast in Craig, while on our way to the airport in Denver.
From my brief encounters with Carol, I could tell she was a go-getter. I liked her from the start.
While Rio Blanco County is feeling the effects of the economic downturn, we don’t have it as bad as other parts of the state.
According to Bureau of Labor statistics Rio Blanco County unemployment figures have increased for the past three consecutive months after reaching a 10-year high of 5.5 percent in March.
The county’s unemployment rate for June was 5.4 percent (a preliminary number). That’s compared to an unemployment rate of 3.0 percent for the same time last year.
In May of this year, the county’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, and 5.1 percent in April.
Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate for June was 7.8 percent, while the national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent.
In 2007 and for most of 2008, the county’s unemployment rate was in the 2 percent range, reaching a low of 1.5 percent in May 2007.
Fifty-one of Colorado’s 55 counties with employment under 75,000 had weekly wages lower than the national average of $918. Rio Blanco County, at $1,087, was one of the exceptions, along with Broomfield ($1,118), Garfield ($933) and Pitkin ($926).
All but nine of the 64 Colorado counties had wages below the national average. Nationally, Colorado ranks 13th.
Given the times we’re living in, I’m just glad to have a job.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.