Vera Ann Clark
In 1933, when Vera Hansen was thirteen years old, she noticed the attentions of a tall, thin seventeen year-old boy called “Slim.” She was at a dance with her older sister Mary in Genoa, Colorado. Slim smiled and said, “Hi!” Vera blushed and turned away. No one would have known that this first meeting of the daughter and son of prairie homesteaders would be the beginning of a 67 year-long love affair.
It was difficult growing up on a farm in eastern Colorado during the depression and the dust bowl. Money was scarce and work was hard. There was a division of labor in the Hansen household. Mary helped milk the cows. Harry helped his father John with the horses and tractor. Vera helped with household duties and cooking. But there was still a lot of fun to be had. There were ice cream socials, school parties, Sunday pot lucks, and Friday night dances in Genoa, which offered many opportunities for Ray and Vera to get to know each other. On December 24, 1938, when Vera was eighteen and Ray was 22, they were married.
Ray and Vera spent two-thirds of a century together. They always enjoyed each other’s company. Before they were married, Ray worked on Wyoming ranches and wrote long letters to Vera. After he died in 2000, Vera kept this well-worn correspondence in a small metal box on an end table next to her chair. She said read them when she got lonely. She said she thought of him every time, on-the-hour, when the grandfather clock Ray had built, tolled it’s time.
What Vera enjoyed most was traveling. In her previous life, she might have been a gypsy. To be on the road in the RV built by Ray, sitting next to him on her deluxe, leather-upholstered, captain’s chair, with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, was the closest thing to paradise for her.
Her greatest talent was motivating and supporting Ray in their Construction Business. Ray built the houses, but Vera was the Idea Person. She found and bought the lots, planned Sunday drives to visit open houses for ideas, helped with drawing the plans, secured the construction loan, and paid the bills. After she finished the paperwork for the house sale, she was the one who said, “Are you ready to do another one?” Over a period of two decades, this very successful partnership between Ray and Vera added many quality homes to the Englewood area.
Vera’s greatest feat may have been living to be one hundred in age. It requires a major confluence of circumstances to live that long. First, it takes a hearty constitution. After her physical, the most likely report was, “You’re fine. I’ll see you next year.” Vera’s descendants have the comfort of knowing they have some of the healthiest genes around. Second, it takes support. Fortunately for Vera, she had Joan and Rich. After Ray’s death, for at least twenty years, her daughter and son-in-law lovingly made sure that Vera was comfortable and safe. Last, it takes a will to live. No one knows, but she must have enjoyed something every day which gave her the desire see what would happen the next. Few people have that strength of mind.
Vera Ann Clark came from a generation when hard work was necessary for survival, tragedies were endured with stoic forbearance, and elders were revered. She held on to these traditions all her life and they made her special. Vera was good and kind person. She was honest and trustworthy, thoughtful and understanding. She had a wry smile which told volumes. She cared about everyone, especially family and relatives. Ray once said that Vera would literally do anything for her children. She was one-of-a-kind, and we will miss her.
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