Every year, the Auxiliary for the Montezuma County VFW Post 5231 elects a woman to honor.
Our guidelines are simple: a woman that was either born in the Mancos area or moved here in her youth, has lived in the area for 50 years or more and continues to live in Montezuma County and has contributed to the area. We have a preference for women who have a military connection.
This year, our Mancos Days Queen is a woman who moved here in January 1957, and before the year was out, she had met and married the love of her life. But let me give you some of her history before I tell you her name.
Born April 18, 1941, in Raleigh, Mississippi, to James I. (Smitty) and Kolean (Craft) Smith, she was the second of six children.
She was raised on a chicken farm in Mize, Mississippi. Along with her siblings, Vonda May, Jack, Mary, Paul and Judy, she helped with the many chores involved with raising thousands of chickens. Her mother would use the cloth from the sacks that the feed came in to make dresses for the girls and shirts for the boys. Besides working with the chickens, they raised and canned many quarts of food every summer.
In 1945, her father was drafted into the Army and sent to Macon, Georgia. He took his family with him. In 1951, they went back on the road, spending some time in Alabama, Texas and New Mexico before settling down in Mancos, Colorado. They traveled in a small dump truck that Smitty had bought. The kids all rode in the back with a tarp covering them. That was their transportation back to visit their grandparents and other family members. In 1966, Paul, her brother, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Marines. He was sent to Vietnam.
Shortly after moving to Mancos, our Queen met the man she would fall in love with, marry and raise a family. Although she married at age 16, she stayed in school and graduated from Mancos High School in 1959. Her husband loves to tease her and tell everyone how he had to put her through school.
On Sept. 11, 1959, she gave birth to twin sons Rickey Frank and James Oen (deceased). Three years later on Dec. 1, 1962, her daughter Tammy Sue was born. Rickey and his wife, Vicki, have three children. Rachel and Jesse are living in Grand Junction, Colorado, and Hanah and her husband, David Ascencio, live in Telluride, Colorado. Tammy and her husband, Cecil Thurman, have two children, Leah and Jake. Leah and her husband, Dustin Sturdevant, live in Dolores, and on Feb. 8, 2018, the family welcomed the sixth generation to the ranch – making our Queen a great-grandmother. Jake and his fiancee, Amber Nolan, reside in Mancos, Colorado.
Over the years, she has worked many jobs, including the U.S. Forest Service, Mesa Verde Co. and Noland Inc. She also owned and operated the Navajo Trail Campground and Noland Ranch Trailer Park and Storage Units, as well as putting many hours in at the family’s ranch.
When not working, she enjoys dancing, having lots of fun and, of course, spending time with her five grandchildren and great-granddaughter. You will frequently find her camping, fishing or playing card games. She takes the grandchildren camping at Owen’s Basin, named for her husband’s grandfather, above Mancos. There they pick wild raspberries for the ice cream, and enjoy fried potatoes, grilled pork chops and time with numerous friends and the whole family.
Who is our Queen this year?
None other than Susie Uvon Smith Noland.
“Mancos is home to me, I love it here,” Susie says. “Frank and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary this past December. We feel blessed to have so many family and friends in Mancos. I am honored to be elected the 2018 Mancos Days Queen. Thank you.”
A quilt has been made in her honor, and it will be raffled off at 1 p.m. on July 28 at the stage in Boyle Park during Mancos Days. The quilt will be on display at the Dolores State Bank in Mancos. The raffle tickets are now on sale at the bank and through Auxiliary members, $1 apiece or $5 for six.
For more information, you can call Queenie at 970-749-9320, Bev at 970-759-1332 or visit our Facebook page, Auxiliary Montezuma County VFW Post 5231.