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MEEKER I Joe and Evalyn Carstens have grown up, worked, owned a business, and raised a family in this area. They come from a long history of hard-working people and carry on that tradition. Their home is filled with family pictures and heirlooms handed down through the generations, like Joe’s grandfather’s pipe and a handmade rocking horse from Joe’s childhood. Their house and their words are full pride for their family and their grandchildren have certainly kept the couple young and busy through the years.
Joe’s maternal grandfather, Alfred Johnson, left his home in Denmark in a saling ship for America and never went back. The ship was actually lost at sea for three months before arriving in the United States. He worked his way across the states before stopping in Buffalo, Wyo., and then moving on to Meeker where he drove a freight wagon for Harp Transportation.
Joe’s paternal grandfather, Fritz Carstens, was the area water commissioner and helped build the Miller Creek ditch. He also had the rock quarry and donated the stone for the Meeker Elementary School on Main Street where Joe was a member of the inaugural first grade class in the new building.
Joe’s mother, Francis, and father, Fred, were married by local judge Jack Wix. Fred helped construct County Road 8 and supervised the water line into Meeker. He later worked for Alfonzo Bell at the Bar Bell Ranch. Francis cooked for Eleanor Roosevelt when she was in town to visit her son and daughter-in-law, Elliot and Minnewa Roosevelt. Joe’s aunt made a size 2T jacket from one of Elliot’s dinner jackets for their daughter.
Fred went to work for the government doing construction on Army bases following his employment with the Bar Bell. They moved around a lot, with Joe attending 12 schools in one year. When Joe was old enough to work, he worked on several ranches in the Wyoming area before returning to Meeker. He went to work for Rio Blanco County upon his return and stayed 44 years before retiring.
Evelyn (Myers) Carstens was born in Rifle and grew up in Meeker from the time she was seven. Her father was a sheepherder in the area and she enjoyed summers spent with her three sisters and their dad in the mountains. She and Joe were married in 1955 and have three daughters. Sherri (Chris) Halandras, Gayla (Eddie) Langford, and Suzanne (Rodney) Gerloff. They have seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Joe and Evalyn owned the Meeker Laundry for 22 years before selling it to the current owners. They also own the Carstens’s apartments in town. The original apartment building burned down, forcing them to rebuild the entire structure. Joe spends a great deal of time maintaining the property.
Their interest has always been in their church and they feel very fortunate to have family and friends who are always there when they need them. Their marriage remains strong as they still make each other laugh after all these years. Evalyn likes to travel and has been to Germany, Ireland, St. Edwards Islands and Maui to visit family and see the whales. She made the trip to Germany last fall with her daughter Suzanne for her grandson Ben’s return from Afghanistan. He serves in the United States Army.
Joe stays busy regardless of the season, as people that know him will agree. The two still have their 1964 Ford and 1972 Bronco in running condition. Joe has pulled many floats in local parades with the Bronco.
They have been very involved in different community activities, making floats, working booths during the Fourth of July and Evalyn has entered several baked and canned goods in the county fair. The extension club was an active organization with a fun group of ladies when Evalyn was involved and they certainly enjoyed the time spent together. Evalyn wrote local articles for the paper for a couple years.
Joe and Evalyn were recently babysitting their great-granddaughter when Joe said, “It should cost $20 a minute to watch her.”
Their energy and willingness to help is incredible, it is obvious their priority is their family. Judging from the way their eyes light up when talking about their time spent with children, grandchildren and the newest great-grandchild, they have a busy future ahead. Joe’s work ethic has not diminished, and Evalyn’s kindness and soft spot for children seems to be stronger then ever. The Carstens remain young and in love after 57 years of marriage, great examples of faith and family today.