Retired La Plata County teacher Vera Francis Newton Tavenner died Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in Aztec, where she had been living since 1994. She was 94.
Mrs. Tavenner was born to Pleasant Harrison “Buster” and Katherine H. “Katie” Newton on May 18, 1917, near Gadsden, Ala. With her parents and younger brother, William M. “Jack,” she came to Southwest Colorado while Wolf Creek Pass was still being built; it didn’t open until the next year. The Model A Ford basically had to be pushed over the pass a great amount of the way.
The family lived on the Dryside and later moved to Thompson Park in the Cherry Creek area as farmers.
Mrs. Tavenner graduated from Durango High School and went to Fort Lewis College in Hesperus for two years before starting her teaching career in a one-room, 12-grade school. She continued teaching and going to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1960 from Adams State College in Alamosa.
In 1938, she married Gerald S. “Jerry” Tavenner in Aztec.
Her last few years of teaching were at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School, but during her 30 years of teaching, she taught in Ignacio, Marvel and at Riverview Elementary School in Durango.
“She believed in teaching the ‘basics,’ mostly to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders,” her family said. “Her greatest wish was to be remembered as a ‘good teacher.’ Many friends will miss her radiant smile and presence.”
Mrs. Tavenner’s favorite subject was poetry, and she volunteered teaching poetry in the schools for many years after her retirement. Many people knew her as “The Poetry Lady.”
Mrs. Tavenner was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald S. Tavenner, who died in 1988, shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary.
She is survived by her daughter, Sandra S. “Sandy” Tavenner Jefcoat, of Aztec; sons Gerald S. “Steve” Tavenner of Hemet, Calif., and James A. Tavenner of Tucson, Ariz.; eight grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
Cremation will occur at her request. A memorial service will be held at a later date.