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RANGELY I Opinions vary as to what has changed the most in Rangely over the years, but opinions about what makes Rangely great is consistent. The people are what make the town special and the willingness of those people to support one another makes it “home” to many.
Sharon Brown echoed that response, adding, “If someone needs something they are always there, like one big family.” She has lived in different towns but Rangely has always been home to Sharon.
She came to Rangely in the summer of 1947 with her parents, August and Onie Nilsen to visit Onie’s sister, Juanita (Chuck) Enterline. The visit turned into an summer-long stay and the family moved to town soon after. When they first got to town, Sharon’s father worked for Chevron, and the family lived in one of the five houses around the Raven Well with the Anthonys, the Sinclairs, the Hamilton and Reeves
The house was not modern, but it was a place to live when housing was not easy to find. It had an outhouse and an outside pump for water. The family lived there through her fifth grade year before moving to the Laughlin Camp which had more amenities but was right under the “flare,” making it seem like daytime 24 hours a day. The family was there about a year before her father took a job in Wisconsin. The family stayed in Wisconsin for about six weeks before Sharon’s and her mother’s homesickness prevailed and they convinced August to move back to Rangely. They lived in the Sharpels Camp on Blue Mountain Highway before moving to town. Her father bought the building that used to be Mike’s Bar, and is now Rangely Insurance, and remodeled it into an auto shop with an apartment in the back. They stayed there until Sharon was a junior in high school.
August moved his family back to Minnesota where they had originally come from but Sharon was in love with a young, Rangely athlete, Toby Brown, and she was determined to get back “home.” She saved her money from waiting tables and working odd jobs and caught a train back when she could. She worked for McCoy Chevrolet and rented a place in town. Toby was working on a rig in Bonanza at the time and got Sundays off. The relief crew was usually there in time to get him home around 2 a.m. but on their wedding day in 1956, the relief crew was late. Toby did not make it back until 11 a.m., two hours late for the scheduled ceremony at the Rangely Christian Church.
“Everybody thought he had jilted me,” Sharon said, “But I wasn’t worried.” She assumed it had rained a little bit, making the roads impassable, or something else came up.
Following their marriage, Toby continued to work in Bonanza for Stage Drilling until “the bottom fell out of the oil field.” Sharon was working for the telephone company but had to take an early leave when she became very ill during her first pregnancy. The two decided to move back to Minnesota to find work, but always wanted to come back. They made it back in 1974, and stayed until 1989. They moved to Farmington, NM, and then Elko, Nev., where Toby retired in 2003. They then returned “home.”
The marriage that started late proved to be well worth the wait. The couple enjoyed 51 years of marriage before Toby passed away.
When asked what has changed the most over the years Sharon said, “There used to be a lot of things to do in Rangely.” She remembers a community that boasted three car dealerships, a drug store, three clothing stores, a teen place to hang out, a movie theater, a bowling alley under the drug store, a jewelry store, and bars. It has certainly been easy to see the effects the ups and downs of the oil business has had on the small town over the years.
The thing Sharon appreciates so much about the town has been the people. She grew up with her cousins, Mike and Debbie Enterline, nearby and as their family grew, so did hers. She was brought up understanding the importance of family and passed that value to her four children: Kim, Kelly, Kory and Kyle. She has nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She has supported her children in many activities and continues to do so into the next generations. Her granddaughters Katelyn and Kassadee play basketball on the seventh-grade “A” team and do an outstanding job.
Sharon represents one of “the people” who make Rangely “a great place to live.” She would no doubt be there for her family and friends, no matter what, and as with so many others, she appreciates the security of knowing “someone is there if you need them” that living in a community like Rangely provides.