Mary Elaine Walker
On March 16, 2016, our Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother, Mary Elaine Walker, returned home. She passed peacefully at HopeWest and Hospice Care Center in Grand Junction, CO, after complications from a hip injury.
Mary was born Mary Elaine Vanstone in Rochelle, IL, on March 2nd, 1935. Her parents, Glenn and Frances (Confer), owned a 40-acre dairy farm in Byron, IL. Being an only child, hard work and a love of animals became her defining persona. Just a few months before her passing, she was still trying to pull weeds twice her height at her home in Grand Junction. She also developed a love of baseball from her father that continued throughout her life, including passionately following the JUCO tournament in Grand Junction, the Denver Bears and the Colorado Rockies. She was tickled when “A League of Their Own” was released, as she was active in the women’s baseball league in Rockford, IL.
In May of 1955, she married Paul Ehlert, a bus driver from Rockford. Shortly after getting married, they moved to Golden, CO, where they had two children, Mary Grace (Gracie) and Glenn. Mary worked at Willys-Jeep Motor Company in Denver and was active in the Westernaires, in which Gracie was a participant. She also was involved in rebuilding antique aircraft with a group of friends that included Gerry and Char Miller of Grand Junction. The Curtiss Jenny that is on display in Concourse B at DIA is one of their restorations.
In 1968, Mary was married a second time to Franklin Walker, a welder/mechanic from Pagosa Spring, CO. The family moved west from Golden as I-70 was being constructed, with temporary homes in Idaho Springs and Edwards. They finally decided to call Eagle home where Mary and Frank had two children, Lou Anne and Jo Lynn. Mary was very active in the rodeo events in the Eagle Valley and served as secretary for the Eagle Flight Days, The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, the Eagle Little Britches and various gymkhana events throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
Mary worked in the Eagle County Treasurer’s Office for 17 years, and served as Eagle County Treasurer from 1983-1991. She was active in Oddfellows-Rebekahs, the Eagle Historical Society and the Republican Party. Along with her father Glenn, who moved to Eagle from Byron in 1977, she supported and attended countless school activities as she had all four children graduate from Eagle Valley High School between 1976 and 1989.
In 2005, Mary moved to Grand Junction with her two Mustangs, Tequila and Spirit, whom she adopted from the Bookcliff herd of wild Mustangs. Mary remained in Grand Junction until her passing.
Mary was a passionate cook and was always searching magazines and newspapers for new recipes to experiment with. She also had a deep love for music and kept a collection of 78 rpm records and sheet music. Her passions for animals, food and music will undeniably live on through her family.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, both husbands, former step-son Bunker Ehlert of Austin, TX, step-daughter Dawn Walker of Pagosa Springs, and grandson Corbin Lynn Hunt of Grand Junction. She is survived by former step-daughter Sharon Pinkston (Ehlert) of Bulverde, TX; step-son Stanley Walker of Pagosa Springs; three daughters, Mary Grace Ehlert of Grand Junction, Lou Anne Hunt (Walker) of Long Beach, CA, and Jo Lynn Hodges (Walker) of Johnson, KS; son Glenn Ehlert of Evergreen; five granddaughters, Brianna Harris (Ehlert) and her husband Dustin of Loma, Cassandra and Savahanna Wilkinson of Grand Junction, and Taylor Hightower and Lindsey Hodges, both of Johnson, KS; four grandsons, Kyle (Kelli) Ehlert of Grand Junction, Dustin (Emily) Ehlert of Gypsum, Darrin Collins of Grand Junction, and Cade Hightower of Johnson, KS; four great-grandchildren; her beloved dog Spanky; and her cat with nine lives, Girl Kitty.
A service will be held at 10 a.m. on March 29th in the Callahan-Edfast Chapel, 2515 F Road Grand Junction, CO 81505.
Memorial contributions to the Friends of the Mustangs, P.O. Box 2771 Grand Junction, CO 81502.
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.