Ilamae Olson Watters


2018/12/obit-watters-Aunt-Ilamae0001-218x300.jpgJan. 3, 1926-Dec. 10, 2018.

Ilamae (Olson) Watters died on Dec. 10 at her home in the Animas Valley in Durango, Colo. She was 92 years old.

She is survived by her children: John Watters (wife Nancy); Mary Jo Watters Gage (deceased husband Randy); and Donna Lee Watters Pettingill (husband Richard). She is also survived by grandchildren Melinda Gage Goodson, Bree Pettingill McDonald (husband Jeremy), Lara Gage, Christine Gage and Stacy Pettingill, as well as numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Ilamae was born on Jan. 3, 1926, at her family home in Pagosa Springs, Colo., to Eva (Shields) and A.W. Olson. She attended elementary school in Pagosa Springs before moving to Portland, Ore., to attend junior high and high school. She was very active in high school and served as the president of the Jr./Sr. Honor Society, president of the Music Club, vice president of the Senior Class and was first-chair flute in the high school band.

Following graduation, she attended University of Colorado, where she was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority as well as other organizations on campus. She often joked that she majored in extracurricular activities, but in reality earned a degree with a distributed major in mathematics, psychology, physics and education.

Her first job out of college was as a teacher in Sterling, Colo., where she was the top-paid teacher in the district. Her salary was $200 per month. The following summer, she returned to Pagosa and began working for Dr. John Button as his assistant. They married in 1948 and would have a son, John Jr., and a daughter, Mary Jo. The marriage ended in tragedy when Dr. Button’s plane was lost near Creede, Colo., during the winter of 1951. She would marry a second time in 1954 when she met Don Watters. To this union would be born a daughter, Donna Lee.

Ilamae was a well-known teacher in Durango, having taught for the Durango School District for 33 years. During that time, she was a member of Neo-Delphian, Eastern Star, the Durango Reading Club, charter member of the Durango Sewing Club and an active member of the First Presbyterian Church for over 65 years. Her true passion was bridge and in 2018 she was awarded the Golden Age Master certificate from the American Contract Bridge League.

Most importantly, Ilamae was the matriarch of a large and loving family. She enjoyed traveling with her sister and mother while they were alive and, afterward, with her children and grandchildren. One of her favorite things to do was to go to Pagosa Springs to take a hot bath in the mineral waters. Of her life, she wrote, “I am blessed. I have such a nice family, a multitude of wonderful friends, apparently good health and my memories.”

She is preceded in death by her mother, Eva (Shields) Olson; father A.W. Olson; husbands Dr. John Button and Donald Watters; and her dear sister, Eva Jean.

A funeral is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church at 1159 Third Ave., Durango, Colo. Interment at the Greenmont Cemetery will immediately follow the service. Following interment, the family invites everyone to join them at Ilamae’s home, 335 County Road 250, Durango, Colo., for a light repast.