Pagosa’s First Lady, Queen of Pagosa Springs, Jewel of Pagosa, Town Ambassador, Town Crier, Angel. Those are the titles that people have used to describe Cindy Gustafson.
Cindy touched the lives of just about every single person in Pagosa Springs. There was no such thing as a stranger to Cindy. She shared her love of Pagosa and its people with anyone who took the time to listen.
To Cindy, everything about Pagosa was “Just wonderful!” Cindy made life wonderful. She always had a twinkle in her amazing blue eyes.
As a young wife, she gave birth to eight children and lost three — a daughter and two sons. Even though her first marriage didn’t last, Cindy’s name is mentioned on her previous husband’s tombstone as someone he loved, “Cindy, the mother of my children.”
Cindy married Ron Gustafson 42 years ago. He had three children of his own. Once their kids were grown, their adventures moved them to Pagosa Springs in May of 1997.
I first ran into Cindy and Ron when I lived in Aspen Springs and came upon a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road with both doors open and no one around. The road was blocked. Of course, I was in a hurry and they were holding me up. Of course, I wasn’t too happy. But here they came, apologizing and smiling while waving the trash they had been picking up alongside the road. How could I not smile and wave back at them?
Ron and Cindy attended nearly every single event that has happened in this community over the past 17 years. They became an integral part of our community by supporting just about everything that they could. The 14-mile trip from their house to town didn’t slow them down. They would make two and sometimes three trips a day to make it to events and volunteer.
In Mary Jo Coulehan’s tribute to Ron and Cindy as the Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Volunteers of the Year, she said, “It is rare that you will not see them at a SunDowner, a Community Center Dance, a fundraiser for one of the children in our community, a high school or Music Boosters program, or an event for even the most obscure group. … So not only do they work at functions, but they spend their money in support of the organization by purchasing tickets and attending the function. … They are at the County Fair almost from sun-up to sun-down volunteering. This dedication awarded them the Super Volunteers for the 2007 County Fair.”
Cindy faced life’s challenges head on. She was a breast cancer survivor. She went through two separate surgeries to regain her health.
Then, seven years ago at Thanksgiving, she broke her back and spent a large amount of time in hospitals and in rehabilitation, relearning how to walk. It wasn’t the only time she found herself bedridden. Each time she overcame the challenge and refused to stay home and do nothing. Whether she was in a wheelchair or a walker, Ron made sure she was in attendance at community events.
While they went about immersing themselves in our community, Cindy found the goodness in every person and every situation. She lovingly shared stories of good people and good times in her Letters to the Editor. She always had something positive that she wanted to point out.
Cindy’s daughter, Kristi, told me that if you go to The SUN’s website and search Cindy’s name, you will find her legacy.
In the 2011 Pagosa Springs Official Visitor Guide, Cindy is quoted as saying, “We won’t slow down. We will continue to be as active as we can. We’re very much alive that way. When you get up in the morning and don’t get dressed, that’s when you’re in trouble.”
The article went on to share that a testament to the Gustafson’s feelings on their home is their answering machine message: “This is Ron and Cindy … We’re probably out in our town of Pagosa Springs having a great time.”
Cindy definitely had a wonderful time.
Terri Lynn Oldham House