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1918 Erma 2020

Erma Lillian Hale (Bronaugh)

December 18, 1918 — June 1, 2020

Erma Hale

Erma Lillian (Bronaugh) Hale passed away peacefully on June 1, 2020, in Montrose, Colorado, at the age of 101.

She was born at home on a 160-acre farm in Bigelow, Kansas, to Clarence and Lillie Bronaugh on December 18, 1918, the second of four children.

Erma said life on the farm wasn’t easy, but her childhood was “very satisfactory” – and if you knew her humble language, you knew that meant wonderful.  They had no electricity or running water. Meals were cooked on a wood-burning range by the light of kerosene lamps and food was kept cool in the nearby spring. Water for baths was carried from the spring, heated on the stove, and dumped into a big washtub in the kitchen.

When she was in 6th grade, there was a measles outbreak. Erma nearly died after developing pneumonia, ear infections, tonsillitis, and some kidney failure. Once recovered, she had to learn to walk again and was never able to hear out of her right ear. Her hearing loss never slowed her down. In fact, most people didn’t know of it.

Erma attended a one-room school through 8th grade; her favorite subject was math. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, her parents insisted she and her siblings go to high school though it was 15 miles away. They roomed in private homes during the week, returning to the farm on weekends. As a sophomore, Erma won the ‘Homemaker of Kansas’ title in Kansas City, earning a trip and $100, a fortune in those days.

She married a local boy and the true love of her life, Donald Hale, on July 24, 1937. They soon left for Colorado peach country, traveling in a 1930 Ford coupe and living in a tent on the way. Eventually they settled in Montrose.

They had two children, Carole Ann and Frances Faye. Erma worked at Montgomery Ward for 20 years, and then Colorado Ute Electric Company for another 10, retiring at age 62.

She enjoyed a variety of activities with her husband including camping, fishing, boating, waterskiing, snowmobiling, and square dancing. They took a number of trips back to Kansas to see her beloved sisters Doris, Arlene, and Phyllis.

Erma was an accomplished cook and baker (hello cherry pie!), seamstress (she made countless clothes for herself and her girls), crafter, and crochet-er. Her family members were gifted with incredible and intricate afghans and other items.

Erma’s husband Don passed way September 12, 1990. Her older sister Doris Tebbut died in 2001. She is survived by two sisters, Arlene Barrett and Phyllis Wullschleger; her daughters Carole (Albert, deceased) Schmalz and Francie (Gary) Barnes; six grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and 6 great-great-grandchildren.

Erma always had a caring heart, and she would want you to follow yours in picking a charity to donate to in her honor. A celebration of life will be scheduled later this year so that all family members can attend.

Crippin Funeral Home is assisting her family.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Erma Lillian Hale (Bronaugh), please visit our flower store.


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