Melba Ellen Hill passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on June 29, 2016. Melba arrived on Nov. 5, 1930 in Vernal, Utah. She was the middle child of Douglas and Eleanor Chew of Jensen, Utah.
Melba married C. Harry Hill of Vernal, Utah, on June 1, 1951. From this union, Melba had three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She also had six stepgrandchildren and their siblings she claimed as her own.
Melba grew up in a ranching family on the Bonnie Mae, outside of Jensen, Utah. She completed high school in Vernal. She was always proud of being the Vernal Rodeo Queen in 1949.
Melba owned a couple hundred head of black cattle when she married Harry Hill. They moved the cattle from Blue Mountain to Bitter Creek, where Harry spent the summer gathering them off of the White River and moving them back to Bitter Creek in the Bookcliffs.
During her first two years of marriage, Melba was involved in gathering and driving their cattle from the Bookcliffs to Mack, Colo., to send them to market in Chicago by rail. The drive took two days on horseback.
Melba was a working spouse and companion to her husband on the ranch as well as housewife and mother to her children. She lived in Rangely, Colo., and Bitter Creek until 1986, when she moved to Redvale, Colo., where she resided until her death on June 29, 2016.
She was proud of being a cowgirl that could ride side by side with the men. Being too busy with her cattle and horses, she didn’t learn to really cook for a ranching operation until two years after her marriage. But anyone who sat at her table would tell you she was a fine student.
Melba was a member of the Uintah Cowbelles as well as the Rio Blanco Cowbelles. She went with Harry on many Cattlemen’s Tours including Canada, Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and Tahiti. She was a yearly traveler with Wilkins Tours and she had traveled to almost every state in the Union.
Rodeo, horse racing and the PBR were some of her favorite things to watch either on TV or in person. She loved quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting and reading. Her children and grandchildren enjoyed having their own tailor as she was a very talented seamstress. Melba Ellen always referred to herself as the Calico Cowgirl and many have received gifts carrying the tag “Handmade by the Calico Cowgirl.”
Melba is survived by: her son, Jon D. Hill (Fran) of Rangely; two daughters, Kathy Ellen Nay (Bruce) of Norwood, Colo., and Kristy Ann Wall (Scott) of Jensen, Utah; five grandchildren: Logan D. Hill (Jennifer) of Rangely, Casey George Nay of Telluride, Colo., and Angela Ellen Carter (Larry) of Redvale, Colo., Cindy Lea Birchell (Denny) of Jensen, Utah, and Lucky D. Wall (VeraLyn) of Jensen, Utah; eight great-grandchildren: Addie Hill, Cooper Hill, Qaiden Birchell, Tanner Birchell, Shon Wall, Connor Wall, Chasen Wall and Rylee Wall.
Melba was preceded in death by: her parents, Doug and Eleanor Chew, her brother, Dean Chew; and her sister, Glee Peltier.
Services will be held at the Jensen LDS Chapel at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 8, 2016. Compassionate services will be held by the Jensen Ward and Split Mountain Ward Relief Society. Internment will take place in the Rangely Cemetery at 3 p.m.