April 1, 2013
Stella Catherine Craig was born Jan. 9, 1916, in Maybell to Ernest and Aluie Butts. She was raised on the family homestead in the Ben Morgan Canyon in the Danforth hills southwest of Craig. She was the youngest of four children.
Stella started school in the Saddle Mountain School — a one-room schoolhouse near her home — at age 4 because she could hear the children playing at the school and begged her mother to let her go to school with them. In later years, she attended school in Maybell and was devastated when the Maybell school closed and her parents could not afford to send her to Craig to finish, because of the Great Depression. She was an excellent student and education was always important to her.
In November 1932, Stella married Charley Craig. Their only child, Della Ruth, was born in 1938.
In 1942, Stella accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and savior and was baptized in the First Christian Church in Craig. Her spiritual life was very important to her. Her relationship with the Lord was where she drew her strength and was a true prayer warrior for family and friends.
She had a dedicated love for her family. Hunting trips, fishing excursions, pizza parties and even short drives up in the hills were always special occasions made fun with silly songs and stories, and all occasions were celebrated with a milk nickel from the freezer.
Stella was a very hard worker throughout her life and never shied away from any challenge. As a rancher's wife, she worked along with her husband raising hay and cattle.
She became an avid hunter, skilled at killing, dressing and processing her own meat, teaching her grandchildren and many sportsmen who stayed at Juniper her methods of getting and making the most of the game.
She owned and operated Stella's Cash Grocery and Market in Craig. Stella was also a rural mail carrier in the Lay, Jackrabbit and Juniper areas, and she held jobs as a bookkeeper at Craig Coop and as a checker at Safeway.
In 1962, Stella and Charley bought Juniper Hot Springs Resort. She ran the cafe, hotel and cabins, and baths. Her Juniper Burgers, potato salad and pies made the drive from Craig worth the trip to Juniper for a meal, and they were regular requests from her grandkids. Early in her ownership of Juniper, she took a correspondence course to learn Swedish massage and added masseuse to her list of accomplishments, providing treatments to customers at the resort. She has had many articles and a book written about her and her life at Juniper Springs.
Stella served on the Lay School Board, was a member of the Cowbelles, the Royal Neighbors and the Frontier Club in Craig. She also trained and served with the Civil Air Patrol as a ground observer, calling in to report air traffic to NORAD.
Stella was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Jesse and Floyd; sister, Luella; son-in-law Don Smith; granddaughter Jane Marie; and great-granddaughter Brandy Jo.
She is survived by her daughter, Della Ruth; grandchildren Chuck Smith, Deb and Butch Nelson, and Bev and David Reyher; nine great-grandchildren; 13 great-great-grandchildren; niece Marie Solace; nephews Floyd and Chuck Butts and families; and many other relatives and a host of friends.
Stella lived on her own and drove until she was 93. She lived 94 of her years in Moffat County. In 2010, she was excited to move to Colorado Springs to live in an active senior community with her daughter. While there, she made many new friends and enjoyed sharing her life story with them. She gave and received great joy to all those who loved her, lived an outstanding life, and will be greatly missed by many.
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