Ronnie and Jim Else
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Ronnie & Jim Else

June, 1949 to December, 2019

Together in love, life and death

Jim and Ronnie passed away 12/13/19 and 12/20/19 - exactly a week apart - at Sunshine Gardens in Durango, CO, where they moved in 2014 from Hemet, CA to be closer to their only child, Jay, and his family. They are survived by their loving son Jay (wife Patti), grandsons Rob and Ace (wife Rachael), of Durango, and grandson Jayson of Bayfield.

This amazing couple met after WWII at Mt San Antonio College (Mt Sac) in Pomona, CA. As a beautiful young woman and the only female veteran in her class, Ronnie had her choice of suitors but chose Jim because of the way he treated other people. She was best friends with his sister, Kay. They married after a short courtship and lived in a converted chicken coop with ceilings so low there was nail polish on the ceiling from Ronnie removing her shirts.

In 70 years of marriage they only had one big fight. They spent their free time golfing, camping, fishing, square dancing, socializing, spending time with family, and visiting their grandsons as much as possible. They were very proud of the men their grandsons became.

Jim and Ronnie really appreciated the care they received from Mercy Home Health & Hospice and the staff at Sunshine Gardens. They felt loved, pampered and spoiled.

Cremation has occurred, and their ashes will be united as they were in life. Half of the ashes will be spread in a clear mountain stream, and half scattered off the coast of Santa Cruz. Causes close to their hearts were Mercy Hospice of Durango c/o Mercy Foundation, and any breast cancer awareness charity.

Rowena "Ronnie" Else

2/14/23- 12/20/19

Ronnie was born 2/14/23 to Frank and Mary Simerly in Santa Cruz, CA, and died 12/20/19 at age 96 of what doctors would say was a stroke, but we know it was a broken heart.

As a young girl, she and her sister were sent to live at a Catholic boarding school where as a lefty she learned to write with her right hand. She also learned sewing, quilting, art, cooking, a love of books and resilience. This served her well when a bear tried to get in the house near where she was sitting and she bopped it on the nose.

After graduating high school in Los Angeles she joined the Navy so she could send money home to her mother. She trained as a radio operator and had many adventures. After WWII she graduated from Mt Sac, then attended Chouinard's Art Institute where she studied interior design.

She was a breast cancer survivor, and encouraged all young women she met to get breast exams. She enjoyed sewing, reading, crossword puzzles (in pen!), and cooking. She was generous, kind, and curious; an amazing mother, mother-in-law and grandmother.

She is preceded in death by her sister Betty Fisher and brother Frank Simerly. She is survived by Frank's wife, Pam, and Betty's family.

James "Jim" Else

8/12/24 - 12/13/19

James "Jim" Else was born 8/12/24 to George & Elma Else in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and died December 13, 2019 at age 95 of COPD.

He graduated from Occidental College and Mt Sac where he played football and baseball, and then attended night school to earn a Master's Degree in Education. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp at age 19 and served as a radio operator on a B-17 airplane. He was a life-long teacher, coach and counselor who never took a sick day from his 32-year career. He was a member of the Elks Lodge and Lions Club; he also enjoyed wood carving and bird hunting. On his 90th birthday he dragged his oxygen tank onto the putting green at Hillcrest and sank his first putt from 12' away to the applause of onlookers.

His grandchildren appreciated that he was dedicated to helping the people around him to be better people, and they strive to live up to that legacy.

He is preceded in death by his sisters Elaine Shedd and Betty Pate, and survived by his sister, Katherine Spindler in CA, along with a large extended family.

Ronnie and Jim Else

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Published in The Durango Herald on Dec. 26, 2019.
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