Published in the Durango Herald June 8, 2014
(shorter version published May 3, 2014 – see http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20140503/NEWS07/140509823/0/SEARCH/Emma-Marie-Kimsey-Paulek-Horvath)
Emma Marie Paulek Kimsey Horvath passed away on April 29, 2014, at the age of 96 at Senior Life Country Residence at Kline, less than two weeks from her 97th birthday.
Her father, Victor Paulek, came from Lithuania in 1909 to join three brothers who were working in the coal mines at Hesperus. They had also taken up joint homesteads in the Breen (Big Stick) area. Her mother, Geneva Vitkauskuite, was born in Lithuania and married Victor in 1913 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Emma was born in Hesperus on May 10, 1917; her brother Albert was also born there in 1918. Emma was three years old when her parents moved to the Breen area where her brothers Johnny and Eddie were born. Her father built a two-room house directly across the road from the one-room Pleasant View School where she attended grade school.
Emma rode a horse to attend high school at the old Fort Lewis campus for three years. The high school closed in 1933 and she completed her senior year in Durango in 1934. She returned to the old Fort Lewis campus the following two years, taking college courses to receive a two-year teaching certificate. At the age of 19, she taught her first school with 12 pupils at Picnic Flats, southeast of Breen. She earned $75 a month for nine months. Her duties included teaching, cleaning the school, and keeping the building warm during the winter. She stayed in a one-room adobe roofed log cabin near the school during the week.
Every Sunday, she rode a horse from her Big Stick home to the school accompanied by her brother John, and on Friday evening he led a horse in to the school to bring her home for the weekend to help her father with her three brothers as their mother had passed away the previous spring. In 1937 she taught 36 children in all eight grades at the Hermosa School for $1200 for the year.
On May 18, 1938, she married Ross Kimsey, who co-owned the Breen Mercantile with George Williams. They built a small house near the store and their children, Sandra and Roger, were born. They provided access to the telephone in the store and established a weekly delivery service of groceries and mail to residents living in the area as not many people owned cars. Ross died of a brain aneurysm on May 12, 1946, leaving her with two young children.
Emma returned to Fort Lewis College to renew her teaching certificate and taught at the one-room Center School for six years. For three summers, she attended classes at Adams State College to receive her degree in elementary education. For two years she drove the school bus to Marvel, where she taught first and second grade. She then taught the first and second grade at the old Fort Lewis campus and, in 1961, began teaching the second grade at the newly constructed, consolidated Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School at Kline for Durango 9-R. The last ten years she taught first grade before retiring in 1977. Her greatest reward was encouraging her students to enjoy reading.
Emma married John Horvath May 28, 1954, in Aztec, New Mexico. They began farming in the Breen area and had a son, Roy Horvath. They raised grain, hay, cattle and other farm animals. Emma was a typical farm wife (in addition to teaching school), cooking for hired hands, raising a large garden and beautiful flowers, and spending time with her family and friends along the La Plata River near Breen and in La Plata Canyon. Emma and John moved to Bloomfield, New Mexico in December, 1992, where they continued to raise huge gardens and run cattle.
She worked with other local west-side residents to assemble information and write the first HISTORY OF SOUTHWESTERN LA PLATA COUNTY in 1991 and a larger book, the PIONEERS OF SOUTHWEST LA PLATA COUNTY, COLORADO in 1994. Following that, she wrote a 95-page book detailing her own history. Her family and friends cherish the book. She was a life member of Breen Grange #318 and the Breen Busy Bees and was also a member of other farm organizations.
She had a lifetime interest in cooking and enjoyed preparing large meals for family and friends. She was renowned for her culinary abilities with bread, potica, home-canned goods, tamales, and toffee. Up to the last weeks of her life, she gave cooking pointers to great-grandchildren and caregivers.
She was preceded in death by her son, Roger Kimsey Horvath, and her husband, John Horvath. She is survived by her daughter Sandra Campbell (Lee) of Durango, her son Roy Horvath (Suzy) of Breen, her brother Albert Paulek of Carlsbad, California, and seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Breen Community Building Association, 968 CR 127, Hesperus, Colorado 81326. Cremation has occurred and a memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School. Emma and John’s ashes will be interred later on family land that is one of the first properties they purchased in view of her beloved La Plata Mountains