Leta “Ellen” Thorpe

Funeral services for longtime Cortez resident Leta “Ellen” Thorpe will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18 at the Ertel Memorial Chapel with Pastor Shelby Bailey and Reverend Tom Towns officiating. Ellen will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband, Hank, at Cortez Cemetery.

Ellen was born on March 24, 1916 in Anthony, Kan. to Everett Leroy and Chrissie (Seipel) Scammahorn. She passed away on Friday, April 13, 2012 at her home at the age of 96.

The family lived in Anthony, Kan. and in Colorado, the towns of Montrose, Fort Garland, Mount Blanca, and Alamosa. After completing high school, Ellen attended business school and upon graduation she moved to Cortez. Ellen and her sister, Grace, were recognized by the school for their determination to succeed when faced with extreme hardships including the loss of their mother and family and the loss of their home, resulting in the need for them to walk miles every day to school. Music was very important to Ellen, and she was proud to share that love with her granddaughter, Ashley. She loved to play the violin and piano and was self-taught on both. She loved to sing and had an amazing range.

It was after moving to Cortez that Ellen met the love of her life, Cortez Fire Chief Henry (Hank) Thorpe. Hank was very taken with Ellen and they were married in Gallup, N.M. on February 8, 1945. The Gallup Fire Department hosted an elaborate ceremony and the reception continued to Cortez where fellow Cortez firefighters joined in the fun. The firefighter’s life was always a big part of Hank and Ellen’s life.

The couple welcomed Hank’s son Gene into their home. In 1951, daughter Karen was born and daughter Linda followed in 1952. The family was then complete. All children grew up knowing the dedication a firefighter has and the grace that a wife has to possess to allow that passion to flourish. Ellen was a dedicated wife and mother.

Ellen worked at McDermith Motor Company and the county clerk’s office before joining her new husband in their new business, Valley Market, where they sold fresh produce from McElmo Canyon. After several years, Hank and Ellen sold the market and began a new venture, T and L Wholesale Company, with a new partner, Charlie Lincoln, until Hank retired in 1975.

Ellen loved gardening and raising food. She was a self-reliant woman, having grown up in the days when you did it yourself or did without. If you wanted to know how to do just about anything, just ask Ellen. She was part of a group of strong individuals who grew up in a time when life was hard and because of this Ellen had stamina that amazed her family. After losing her dear Hank in 1977, Ellen continued on working until retirement. She started losing her eyesight but that did not stop her. She dedicated her love to her grandchildren.

This amazing lady lived through 96 years of history. Ellen continued living at her house of 67 years until her passing on Friday, April 13, 2012.

Ellen was preceded in death by Henry, who was her loving husband of 32 years; her parents Chrissie and Roy Scammahorn; her brother Bernal Scammahorn; her sisters Fernie Scammahorn and Grace Jones; her grandsons Levi Morris, Dusty Morris, Jimmy Morris; and her daughter in-law Ann Thorpe. Numerous aunts, uncles and cousins also preceded her.

Ellen is survived by her daughters, Karen Yarbrough and husband Bobby of Dolores and Linda McWilliams and husband Earl of Cortez; her stepson, Gene Thorpe of San Diego, Calif.; her grandchildren, Corbie Montgomery and husband Shawn, Trent Yarbrough and wife Jamie, Scott Yarbrough, Aaron Yarbrough and wife Lindsay, Brian Yarbrough and wife Kelsie, Lisa Yarbrough and fiance Eli Sparks, Ashley Yarbrough; and step-grandsons, Tim Thorpe and Robert W. Yarbrough; her great grandchildren, Shawn, Cameron and Krystopher Montgomery, Ryan, Matt, Lakyn, Simon, Zoe, Emily, Kaeden, and Roanin Yarbrough; and three great-great-grandchildren, Cyrus, Draven, and Edan Montgomery.

Services are under the direction of Ertel Funeral Home. For further information or to send condolences, log on to www.ertelfuneralhome.com and click on the obituary section.