Obituary: Vivian Johnson Yoe
Just over a century ago, Vivian Louise was born to Walter and Effie Johnson in Floresville, Texas. She spent the first 40 years of her life in south Texas, graduating from high school as valedictorian and earning a teaching degree from Texas A & I. While in college she met and married the dashing love of her life, Tom Yoe. She began teaching soon after that, living with and assisting her ailing mother-in-law. Tom joined the Air Force during WWII and was stationed in California where Vivian moved to join him. When he was sent to the Philippines, Vivian stayed at the base and became a flight simulator operator and helped train pilots and crews joining the war. After the war, Tom vowed he never wanted to live on flat land again and he and Vivian decided to move to Colorado and follow Tom’s dream to become a rancher. She left the comfortable town life she was used to and moved to a remote mountain ranch without electricity or running water, but with a brand new baby!
The foothills ranch wasn’t a good match for the cow-calf operation they dreamed of so they moved to Arvada while Vivian attained her MA in Library Science at Denver University, did some more teaching, and helped shop for Colorado mountain ranches. Next was an even more remote ranch near Radium, but with electricity, water, and even a crank phone! It was a good bottom-land ranch, with 3 tourist cabins, and Vivian was always the gracious hostess. When the postmistress for Radium retired, she was appointed to replace her and the post office was moved to one of the cabins. Trips to Glenwood Springs for shopping and the livestock auction were special occasions. When the ranch became too much for them, and with a teenage daughter, they moved to a small fruit farm near Paonia and purchased the Dairy King in town, which was open late spring and summer. Vivian began teaching again as well as working in the town and school libraries.
When she and Tom “retired” they moved to Thornton and Vivian reveled in the shopping and worked as a librarian part time. She again became active in the local Methodist church and she and Tom continued their treks into the Colorado mountains. After Tom passed away, Vivian moved to Glenwood to be closer to family. She loved it here and enjoyed the many attractions and scenery just outside her front door. Best of all, she was within walking distance of the library! She became a member of the Glenwood Methodist church and was active with the women’s Circle group, who became extended family.
She happily spent the last years of her life at Crossroads Assisted Living in Rifle with her cats Gigi, then Furzy, acquiring more extended family there.
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During this diverse life, Vivian was a devoted reader and life-long learner. She was always in the middle of 4-6 books, ranging from literature to history to biographies to her beloved “who-dun-its”. She always secretly wanted to be a journalist and loved researching, and writing stories and poetry. She was a walking encyclopedia and had a ready answer to virtually anything, including sports. When being used as a homework research shortcut (before the Internet!), she would always give a brief teaser, and then say, “look it up!”. At 94, she was the oldest person to have walked the Redstone tour.
During this varied life, she was constantly faced with new experiences and challenges and always embraced them with a positive attitude and a craving to learn more. During her first decade in Colo., a dog-eared flower identification book was always near; soon she knew them all and taught them to her daughter, the first being Little Red Elephants.
Always the gracious and stylish lady, you never saw her without a coordinated outfit and earrings — even at home on the ranch. She always was able to make things special with what she had (her childhood was during the Depression) and she cherished and used things for a very long time.
Vivian was also a forward thinker and believed in women’s and racial equality long before those issues were openly discussed in public. Even more remarkable considering a southern upbringing in the early 1900s! She was tolerant without thinking about it, and always felt that differences presented something new to learn about, or think about.
She was a devoted and nurturing mother and a sweet, lovely, adaptable, tough little lady. She had a beautiful smile, which she readily shared, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
She is survived by her daughter Jodie and “son-in-love” Arnie Bay of Silt Mesa; sister-in-law Ann of Dallas; cousins Kate and Bud; niece and nephew Glynnis and Steve; and great-niece Katie of Connecticut.
Services will be held Fri., June 7, at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the First United Methodist Church of Glenwood, Crossroads Assisted Living Activity Fund of Rifle, Home Care and Hospice of the Valley, or CARE, or make a visit to someone in assisted living or a nursing home.
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