Elaine was born April 19, 1926. She arrived in the world shortly before Dr. Mary Fisher arrived at the home of Charles and Elizabeth King Johnson. Dr. Mary pronounced her a “perfect” little baby.
She spent her school-age years at the country schools in Archuleta County, three years at Farmington High School and graduated from Durango High School in 1943. She attended college briefly at the old Fort Lewis in Hesperus before obtaining an emergency teaching certificate due to a lack of teachers during the war. Elaine started her teaching career during World War II at Arboles, Colo., where she boarded with the Siebel family.
She met Royal Nossaman while teaching in Arboles and they married in August 1945. They moved back to Pagosa Springs after WW II ended and Royal worked as a hired ranch hand. Charles Johnson, Elaine’s dad, offered a portion of his ranch to Elaine and Royal if they would clear the oak brush on the fields. They cleared the land, built a cabin and barn and started their family. Unfortunately, Elaine and Royal lost their firstborn, a son named John Jay, in February of 1947. They went on to have two daughters, Susan Elizabeth (Susie) born in July of 1958 and Cynthia Elaine (Cindy) in February 1961. Before Susan’s birth, Elaine taught school at the Bayles School District, a one-room school house, for a couple of years before the schools were consolidated in Archuleta County. Elaine then went into “town” and taught second grade at the public school until she found that she was expecting a baby in the spring of 1958. A while after Cindy’s birth, Elaine found that she would need to get an updated teaching certificate if she wanted to return to teaching; her old one from the ‘40s wasn’t sufficient. She went back to school herself, attending Adams State College in Alamosa, where she earned her baccalaureate degree in August of 1964. She taught in town at the public school for one year before beginning to teach in Dulce, N.M., in 1968. From 1968 to 1986, Elaine taught elementary school in Dulce. She retired from teaching as a paid job, but continued to tutor children needing help. Whether it was someone in her family or a child referred to her, that child received her utmost attention.
Besides teaching school, Elaine volunteered her time as a 4-H leader for her daughters and the other kids in the Bayles neighborhood. She was a sewing, knitting and leather-craft leader. She and Royal usually tended an expansive garden and Elaine preserved as much as possible by canning. She continued to preserve and can as long as she was able. She won many awards at the Archuleta County Fair that attest to her canning prowess. She was selected to be the Archuleta County Fair Lady in 2005. In the fall of 2013, she and Susie canned her last batch of dilly-beans.
Royal passed away in May of 1993, leaving Elaine behind. She continued to tutor children needing help and volunteered her time at Pagosa Springs Elementary School and Summit Christian Academy, helping her grandchildren. She also was active with the Senior Citizens Silver Fox Den where she enjoyed having lunch and playing Scrabble with the other seniors.
In the past couple years, Elaine finally did slow down. She was surrounded by family and friends who cared for her as her health began to fail. Elaine passed from this life on April 17, 2015. She was two days shy of her 89th birthday.
Mrs. Nossaman is survived by sisters Charlotte and Marilyn; daughters Susan and Cindy; one cousin, Eldon Johnson; five grandchildren, Raymond Burk, Lara Riley, Eddie Burk, Elizabeth Daniels and Lauren Felts-Salazar; one step-grandchild, Chrystal Snow; 14 great-grandchildren; 10 nieces and nephews; and numerous great nieces and nephews.
Elaine joins her infant son, John, her husband, Royal, a sister, Genevieve Phelps, numerous cousins, and her parents, Charles and Elizabeth Johnson in Eternity.
Services were held at the Archuleta County Extension Building on April 22, 2015. A graveside service followed at the family cemetery.
Memorial contributions can be made to Hospice of Mercy or to Visiting Angels.