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Elizabeth "Belle" M Eaton

Born: 7/23/1912, Silver City, New Mexico
Death: 4/2/2008, Moab, Utah
Service: 04/12/2008, 11:00 am, Trinity Presbyterian Church Cliff, NM

Elizabeth “Belle” Eaton, age 95, passed from this life on April 2,in Moab, Utah. She spent her life as an active person, hiking until her ninetieth birthday, making friends wherever she went. Belle was born on July 23, 1912 in Silver City, New Mexico, the daughter of Emma Carson and Paulo Marquez. She never knew her father. She was raised by her aunts and her Grandmother after the death of her mother at age six. Belle often told stories of her summers on the family ranch in the Gila Valley. At age 22, Belle joined her Aunt Florence in Cleveland where she worked as a beautician for several years before meeting Jesse Eaton whom she married in 1936. They moved frequently with Jesse’s job at the Davie Tree Company, spending the first years of their marriage living in a 16’ trailer. Their son, Bob, was born in 1942. In 1938, they had purchased a tract of land in Gila, New Mexico along the Gila River. After WWII ended, Belle and Jesse returned to their land, renovated an old adobe house and made it their home for more than 30 years. During this time, in an effort to make a living, Jesse was offered two dozen chickens as payment for some mechanic work. This led to a twenty year foray into the poultry industry; with their flock reaching over 5000 laying hens.

In 1954, Jesse went to work at the local copper smelter and the responsibility for the farming operation fell to Belle. In the mid 1960’s, Jesse succumbed to a stroke and the entire burden of their livelihood fell to Belle. She worked at a series of different jobs but became famous when she thwarted a robbery attempt at the Snappy Mart in Silver City. When the would-be robber ordered her to give him all of the cash in the drawer, she stated “all of my registers are closed; if you want any money you will just have to shoot me.” The frustrated robber turned and left.

After Jesse died in 1983, Belle began to travel. She took trips to Hawaii, Europe . Belle maintained her home in the Gila Valley until 2002 when her family persuaded her to move to Moab, the home of her Granddaughter. Heidi Wainer, took very good care of her Grandmother through her several ailments and a broken hip. During her time in Moab, Belle was active in the Moab senior scene. She was a regular at the Senior Center where she knew everyone. She was active in the Red Hat Society and participated in Tai Chi, played with the band, and was a terror at the canasta table. Belle loved watching the jeeps and mountain bikers sail past her window. She took motorcycle rides around the valley and a plane ride over Canyonlands, on her 95th birthday. She was always ready to party and managed to dance several times with the Mayor of Salt Lake City at a New Years Eve party in 2007.

Belle has seen so many changes in the world, from riding on the stagecoach at age of 6 to flying to Europe at age 80. She was a generous, kind and warmhearted lady who was loved by all.

Belle is survived by Bob and Susan Eaton; Heidi , Sam, Tobin and Kai Wainer; Josh, Suzette, Isaac, and Emery Belle (her namesake)Eaton; also Christy, Dave, Madeline, and Nicholas Riches .

Memorial Services are planned for Thursday April 3, at the Community Church in Moab and April 12 at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Cliff, New Mexico at 11:00 am.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Grand Center 182 North 500 West Moab, Utah 84532.

Tributes

4/10/2008 - We met Belle while attending Trinity Presbyterian Church in Cliff. She was a wonderful, gentle woman and we enjoyed talking to her about how much she loved the Gila Valley. Dave and Naomi Miles - Naomi Miles

4/9/2008 - My father, who passed away two years ago at age 74,(John Taylor),came from a large family who lived in the Gila valley at age 16-17 and came back after he got out of the service and first married, and again later with his own family and lived out the rest of his life in Gila. My father was 16 years old and hauled hay on weekends to make money. He would start the truck in first gear then jump out and start loading hay, jump on the truck and stack hay, get back in the truck and straighten it etc. One day Belle was driving by and saw him in the field and she felt sorry for him so she parked her vehicle, walked down to the field and drove the truck for him the rest of that day while he loaded and stacked hay. My mother, Dorothy met Belle when she first married my dad and went Jess and Belle's to buy eggs. They were 10 cents a dozen and Belle was saving dimes to build on to her house. From that moment, my mother thought she was the sweetest person. She told my mother that she married the nicest boy on the Gila River. She also worked with Belle at Pacific Western Land and Cattle Company for many years and grew to love her as a dear friend as well and sorely missed her when she moved. Belle was a very special friend to the Taylor family all through the years and we will all miss that smile, true and honest friendship and funny stories. Our most sincere condolences to you, her family. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and the entire community of Gila-Cliff. Kathy Taylor for Dorothy, Glen, Kathy and Bonnie. - Dorothy, Glen,Kathy,Bonnie Taylor

4/8/2008 - I was so sorry to read in tonight's newspaper of Belle's passing. She was such a remarkable person, and while our lives only crossed paths a few times she made an indelible impression on mine. In the summer of 1980 I worked on a historic building inventory in the Gila Valley, as part of my job with the Silver City Museum. The project included visiting, photographing, sketching floor plans and collecting information on every pre-1945 building in the area. Someone said, "You've GOT to talk to Belle Eaton." She welcomed me just as an old friend would, and over the next few weeks conducted me to the homes of numerous people who knew so much about the early history and buildings. In some cases she served as translator, and in others simply opened conversations that I'm sure would have been less fruitful without her support and involvement. Almost all of the folks we visited have since passed on, making their stories all the more precious. I'll always remember a visit we made to a very old woman Belle had known forever, but whom she hadn't seen in some time. We arrived at her home only to discover that this woman (being cared for by a daughter) was obviously very close to the end of her life--a skeletal figure confined to a hospital bed, weighing maybe 75 pounds, blind and seemingly unresponsive to all activity around her. Belle and I exchanged nervous glances, but then Belle leaned forward and spoke to the woman in Spanish, introducing herself. Amazingly, this woman--who, it turns out, had been the midwife who delivered Belle--spoke up in a soft, creaking voice and said, "You were born in 1911." (I see now that her date was off by a year, but her memory was incredibly sharp.) She then proceeded to reel off information about the Carson family and area history that was absolutely stunning. In all my years of oral history interviews, I have never encountered anything like that woman's brilliance under such unlikely circumstances--and Belle made it happen. Over the 27 (yikes!) years since the Gila Valley survey, Belle and I would run into one another from time to time shopping or at social events, and it really made me feel special to see her face light up with pleasure in her greeting. It was always a gift to be in the light of that smile and to re-connect with this special friend. Belle was the epitome of an empowered woman--open yet fearless, nurturing yet strong, wise yet humble, living her life to the very fullest. Belle, my love goes with you on your new journey. To family members, my sincere condolences--the loss of such a bright spirit has to be a large loss indeed. You are in my thoughts and prayers. - Susan Berry

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