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Memorial for James Onslow Linnens

Born in Egnar, Colorado on Feb. 7, 1935
Departed on Jan. 15, 2018 and resided in Dolores, Colorado.
Service: Monday, Jan. 22, 2018
Cemetery: Summit Ridge Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

James Onslow Linnens was born at home, attended by a mid-wife, on February 7th, 1935. He was called ‘Sonny’ by his family in his early years but preferred ‘James’ or ‘Jim’ as he grew older. He was the oldest of 8 children born to James Leon and Esther Oneta (Ludwick) Linnens at the family homestead near Egnar, Colorado known as ‘the burn’. His mother’s family (Peters) and his father’s family (Eastin), were among the first families to homestead the area. His Dad, who went by Leon, was a uranium worker at the Slick Rock uranium mill. The children walked 3 miles to attend school in a one room log schoolhouse near what is now ‘The Burn Cemetery’. The foundation stones can still be seen. His teacher, teaching all grades, was Mildred Koskie. He remembered harsh winters during which the children skied cross-country in snow deep enough to allow them to ski right over the fences. He never saw the attraction of skiing ‘for fun’.
The family moved to Lebanon in 1946 in what appears to be a general migration of all the family from Egnar towards Lebanon and Cortez. His Dad continued to work in the uranium industry, working with his father-in-law (Willie Peters) in the mines near Lukachukai, Arizona. James and his 7 siblings worked with their mother to supplement the family’s income by working in the Lebanon area orchards, harvesting apricots, cherries, peaches, and apples. They shocked oats and hoed beans. They attended school at the Lebanon School House. Dad wouldn’t eat apples as an adult, having partaken in too many growing up, but near the end of his life wanted to pick apples one last time. He and his daughter, Martha, (who came prepared to climb a ladder and pick, hoping to keep her Dad from doing so), drove to the Risenhoover farm, where they picked out a box of already-picked apples, much to Martha’s relief. James didn’t eat a single one of those apples. He chose an apple tree sapling for what turned out to be his last Father’s Day gift and added it to his already crowded yard of fruit trees.
James graduated from high school in Cortez, in what is currently the Cortez Middle School. He joined the Army reserves at the age of 16. He evidently at least briefly considered being a horse jockey, having gotten the notion from the racehorses raised in the Lebanon area at the time. He was 5’2’’ tall and was never a big man in physical stature but he was strong and wiry-he would have made a fine jockey. Instead, however, he began working at Patton’s Motor Company prior to graduation as a mechanic and worked for Cortez Milling, sacking flour. He went on to work in several service stations, including Bill Bowlen’s service station, and Bob’s Texaco, culminating in James operating his own service station, Sunset Texaco, which was located on the corner of South Broadway and 3rd street in Cortez. The station was razed to the ground and is now a parking lot for the high school football field. The station bells rang as customers pulled in to fill up and attendants (including his children Phillip and Lois) ran out to fill the vehicles, wash windows and check oil and radiators. James worked as a mechanic. He was awarded multiple honors for ‘catching’ purposely sabotaged vehicles sent to him as a company ‘test’. At one point, he was holding a tow chain, having just towed a vehicle. As his children Phillip and Lois watched, a loud crack sounded and lightning traveled down the chain, throwing James backwards onto the asphalt. He refused to go to the doctor and asked the children not to tell their mother what had occurred. He was acting so ‘loopy’ when he got home (despite having driven himself and the children home!) that LaVaughn knew something had happened and they were forced to tell her. He later owned and operated ‘Jimmy’s Mufflers’ on South Broadway, sharpened oilfield drill bits for Carlton Johnson, worked in the oilfields as a derrick hand, logged for Bill Ragland as a cutter, and retired as a fork-lift operator for the Raglands at Stonertop Lumber.
James was working at Cortez Milling and hanging out with other young men in his free time, when one of the young men brought a girl from Dolores named LaVaughn Bunce as a date. James at the time bore a strong resemblance to James Dean, the movie star. LaVaughn only went out with the first young man once, thereafter dating James exclusively. LaVaughn remembers that she first went out with James because he was the only one of the young men to ‘clean up’ after work before going out.
James and LaVaughn were married May 27th, 1956 at her parent’s homestead on Summit Ridge and made their home in Cortez. They had ten children together, Martha Ann, Phillip Arthur, Francis Lois (Lois), George Kevin (died in infancy), Deborah Lynne (died in infancy), John William, Michael James, Robert Lee, Amy Sue, and Linda Jeanne.
James worked long hours to support his family, often leaving for work before they woke and not returning home until after they were in bed. It wasn’t all work, however. He took the family fishing and picnicking, especially enjoying Transfer Park above Mancos and the campgrounds on the West Dolores River. In later years, many weekends were spent fishing on area lakes in his boat with his son John. He also enjoyed bowling, sponsoring a bowling league when he owned the service station. He raced a stock car during the period that he owned the muffler shop and named the stock car ‘the Orange Peeler’ after the Hush Thrush Orange Peeler muffler that he sold at the muffler shop. His daughter, Martha, painted a split orange on the back of the car, out of which a risqué bikini-clad blonde stepped out. He and his brother, Hollis, and friends Don Just and others spent as much time repairing the car as racing it, which seemed to require the consumption of a fair number of beers. James learned woodworking from his Uncle George Eastin, a builder in Cortez. James worked alongside his uncle to build various homes, including one that currently houses the ‘Shiloh Restaurant’. Uncle George was also a master carver and James once asked him to carve a horse for him. George helped him to cut a block of wood and told him to carve his own horse, which he did. The horse is displayed in the family home as well as other samples of his woodworking including various pieces of furniture still in use. In retirement, he made many craft items including beautiful lattice-work bowls.
In 1974, the family moved to LaVaughn’s parent’s homestead on Summit Ridge so that LaVaughn could care for her parents, who were ill. James and the 5 children remaining at home helped care for milk cows, irrigated and harvested hay, and raised large 2-acre gardens. They raised 1000 pounds of potatoes each year and 100 tomato plants. Dad seemed to enjoy raising pigs, bringing piglets into the house to bottle-feed.
James and LaVaughn eventually sold the homestead and moved into a Victorian house on 6th street in Dolores, within walking distance of the bank, library, post-office and river. James enjoyed gardening in the yard, filling the property with fruit trees and grapes, holly-hocks, poppies and sunflowers. He and LaVaughn bought a motor home and traveled the country. They drove to South Carolina to visit their daughter Amy and to Florida to visit their son Rob and to Washington to visit their daughter Martha and, the highlight of all their traveling-to Alaska when their son Rob was stationed there in the Air Force.
James suffered a mild stroke on December 27th, 2017 and fell, fracturing his hip. He was flown to Grand Junction for follow-up stroke care and a hip replacement, returning to Cortez to rehabilitate at Vista Grande LTC facility. He was advised that he needed to chop up his hamburgers and thicken his coffee to prevent aspiration of food and fluids into his lungs, but he wasn’t having that. He elected not to comply and subsequently contracted aspiration pneumonia and passed at the nursing home on January 15th, 2018 about three weeks short of his 83rd birthday. His wife of 61 years was with him and two of his daughters, Martha and Lois. All of his surviving children and their families had maintained a loving vigil, never leaving him alone
James is survived by his spouse, LaVaughn Linnens, his daughter Martha Anchando of Cortez, his daughter Lois Davis (Russ) of Cortez, his son John Linnens of Cortez, his son Mike Linnens (Julie) of Aztec New Mexico, his son Rob Linnens (Dana) of Trenton, Florida, his daughter Amy Taylor of Colorado Springs, his daughter Linda Wade (Bill) of Dolores, his brother, Hollis Linnens of Cortez, his sister Harlean Eldridge of Durango, his sister Sonia Oltmanns (Paul) of Houston, Tx, his sister Cindy Emitts (Bert) of The Woodlands, TX, his sister Ula Robinson (Robert) of Hurricane, UT. He is also survived by 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, by his sister Martha Ann Linnens (who died in infancy), his brother Roy, and by his son Phillip Arthur, his son George Kevin and his daughter Deborah Lynne.

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