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1929 Thelma 2023

Thelma Rose Campbell (Freel)

May 11, 1929 — July 23, 2023

Thelma Freel Campbell

Thelma Rose Freel Campbell passed from our world July 23, 2023, at age 94.  Thelma was born near Cedar (Disappointment Valley), Colorado on May 11, 1929.  She was the second of three children born to Richard Freel (age 48) and Lydia Wilemon (age 21).

Thelma lived most of her life in western Colorado as a child, wife, homemaker, cook, and mother of five children.  In the mountainous gold mining area of southwest Colorado, schools were sometimes distant from where a family lived and worked.  Thelma lived with her 2nd grade teacher when attending elementary school, near Mancos, Colorado.  Later, she had many fond memories as a teenager living with Vera and Randy Belisle in Ophir, Colorado.  Randy Belisle was a gold miner.  Vera was the Ophir postmaster and ran the general store.  Thelma helped Vera at the general store.  The Belisle family lived in a turn-of-the century frame house on the side of the steep canyon walls along the Ophir loop, with a stream running underneath the house.  Randy and Vera Belisle and their children’s families were lifelong friends of Thelma.

Thelma Freel casually knew the Campbell brothers (from Norwood, Colorado), but became reacquainted at a Christmas Day Dance 1947.  Three Campbell brothers attended the Norwood dance:  Ervin, Willis, and Ross. Ervin had just been discharged December 1, 1946 from service in the US Army’s 46th Engineer Construction Battalion.  He entered service April 6, 1945 before the end of the war in the Pacific and subsequently served in the occupation of Japan.  Ervin proposed marriage to Thelma that very night!  Ervin, Thelma, and Ervin’s brother Ross Campbell drove to Aztec, New Mexico.  That mountainous road trip of about 150 miles had to have taken many hours of driving in daylight and dark.  They found a justice of the peace on December 26, 1947, their official wedding date.  Willis could not go with them because he had cows to milk at home.

Thelma and Ervin lived in Montrose, Colorado for a couple years, but moved back to the Norwood area, among many of the Campbell family.  Thelma & Ervin’s daughter Patti and Ervin’s brother Lyman continue to live west of Redvale, Colorado, and daughter Lea Maurantonio lives near Norwood.

During a series of years, the Campbell Brothers ran herds of sheep near Lizard Head Pass and owned and operated cabins at Priest Lake.  Thelma supported the ranch and vacation cabins as she could, while raising their children.

After the Campbell brothers sold their sheep, Thelma and Ervin moved to Olathe, Colorado.   Thelma maintained the home in Olathe throughout her life.   She was a beloved cook at the Olathe Public Schools.  Ervin was the sheep foreman for Charlie Hughes, where their son Randy often helped gather crews to dock lambs each night after school.  Thelma traveled with Ervin to the “Muddy” (North of Paonia, Colorado), when Ervin worked for Pete Clathis.  And later, Ervin & Thelma moved to the Eastern Utah “Cottonwood Ranch” after their son Randy and his wife Julie purchased the ranch in 1989.  They loved the rugged canyons of the area, and Ervin tended to the hay fields along the Cottonwood/Diamond Creeks.  Thelma cooked a hearty lunch for all during shearing, and served her delicious biscuits and gravy to those who might travel through the area.  Thanksgiving at the “desert” was a memorable event.  Holiday meals were always served at noon.

Thelma and Ervin were blessed with five children:  Surviving are three daughters,   Lea Maurantonio (and husband Mike), Patti Grafmyer (and husband Michael), Twila Campbell; daughter-in-law Julie A. Hansmire;  grandchildren Scott Maurantonio, Danny Maurantonio, Ranette Karo (and husband Marc),  Nicole Nicholson, Terry Parker, Julie Schoonover, Jessie Schoonover, Lynn H. Campbell (and wife Sarah), Clay H. Campbell, and Avree Hosko; and great grandchildren Bailey Karo, Jayden Karo, Katy McDougal, Lucas McDougal, Ethan Maurantonio, Gavin Maurantonio, Nathaniel Russel, Jessie Olson, Zarha Mundiua, Kaidin Schoonover, Savannah Schoonover, Jaydon Schoonover, and Swayze Lou Campbell.

Preceding Thelma in death were her parents, sisters Nita (elder) and Viola (younger), infant son Virgil (1949), daughter Tonnie Campbell (1988), husband Ervin George Campbell (2005), son Randy Dean Campbell (2010) and grandson Robert Schoonover (2018).   A celebration of life for Thelma “Gramms” will be held at the Olathe Fireman’s Hall, 1 p.m. April 7, 2024.



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