Remembering the art of conversation

RANGELY I Jack and Charleen Brown are prime examples of Rangely’s great history, longevity and people, and their easy conversation comes from their comfort in where they are, where they’ve been and all they have been through. Jack moved to Rangely with his family in 1947 when he was just 6 years old. His father came at the tail end of the oil boom and began working for what was then Utah Pipeline. Like so many others, Jack’s dad first came without his family and moved his family to town a couple months later, in June 1947. Jack lived in Rangely and attended school until he joined the United States Navy in 1959. From 1959 to 1963 he served our country primarily in the west Pacific. After the Navy he lived in Utah for a year and Washington for about nine months before returning to Rangely to work in the oil field. He owned and drove a commercial truck for 20 years. When he started he traveled to California, Texas and Utah, and for 16-1/2 years he hauled to Odessa, Texas, for Chevron. He began a relationship with Charleen in 1967 and the two were married that year. Charleen’s paternal grandparents, Jon and Ester Rasmussen, lived in Jensen, Utah, before homesteading on East Douglas. The two were homesteading in a time that was extremely hard, particularly for sheep ranchers. They worked harder then most to raise their children and experienced tragedy along the way. They eventually had to move back to Jensen but their son Minford “Doc” and his wife Thelma found a life in Rangely. “Doc” was a Jack-of-all-trades, raising sheep, being a talented carpenter and doing odd jobs to make a living for his family. He served on the city council as well. Charleen remembers her mom “washing on a wash board.” Doc and Thelma had six children together and raised 14. Their life was not without its fill of hardship and tragedy as well. However, they proved strong through adversity and provided a good life for their family. “Doc” worked for the county for some time, and he would help dynamite jammed river ice when it threatened the bridge. The Browns remember well the river flooding frequently. “I was in junior high the last time I remember it flooding, and I got home to find no one there,” Charleen said. She recalls the mess the floods made and she and her husband, along with the town of Rangely, were relieved when the dam at Kenney Reservoir went in. “The river never flooded again after it went in.” The couple has three kids, two girls and one boy. Two were graduated from Rangely and one from Grand Junction. Daughters Nikeena Bell and Jackie Shea Bell (their spouses are not related but have the same last name), and son Alton “Howdy” Brown all live in Rangely now. The Browns have five grandkids with another expected in late December or early January: four girls, one boy and another on the way. Charleen worked for the credit union for 12 years where she was the manager. She also worked for banks in Rangely through the years and was known for her efficient, thorough work. They remember activities, like floating on ice chunks on the river, and other adventures that probably wouldn’t be permitted today, but still, when asked what has changed the most in Rangely over the years, the two agree, “Not a whole lot,” but that is what they like about it. “That is what makes a small town the best place to raise kids,” Charleen said. The two have been married 45 years. They are modest about their accomplishments, and kind and sincere in their care and concern for others. In this day and age, when texting and technology have virtually eliminated the art of conversation, it is a blessing to find people willing to simply converse. Through those conversations, the Brown’s optimism and wisdom shines.