Well, so far in 2013, we have learned that the inaugural is over, Lance Armstrong is a liar, Manti Te’o is delusional, the East Coast is recovering from Sandy, another school shooting has happened, brothers will face off at the Super Bowl, Congress is stalling, the Middle East is ablaze with unrest and that it’s cold all over America. One item we were not apprised of was that Roma Nelsen passed away this week, at age 87.
Who is Roma Nelson, you ask? She was a fixture at the Visitor Center at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, located eight miles north of Ketchum on the right. For more than 30 years, she told people where to go—literally and figuratively. She was the lady who told you where to camp and hike and have fun in the forest. She would sell you a firewood permit and a Christmas tree and a map. She started the volunteer program, answered your questions on the phone and battled with computers and office equipment for decades. She was a character.
Roma was known to have a “lead foot” while driving her little sports car to work in the mornings. She was the only employee who was allowed to park right next to the back door of headquarters and she was very proud of it. In later years, she would burst in with her walker and say, “I’m here!” Then, the day would begin.
She loved to talk to the visitors, the campers, the locals and the rest of the employees. Sometimes she would continue talking long after her listeners were gone. When reminded of this quirk, she would laugh outright with glee and say, “I know that.” She had a great sense of humor and kept everyone amused for years with her off-the-wall statements, just seeing if you were listening.
She was warm and generous and never forgot a birthday. She would make birthday cakes for all the employees at the center and call on the public address system for everyone to drop what they were doing and report to the kitchen for the ceremonial blowing out of the candles.
She loved little children and dogs of all sizes. She kept candy for the kids and milk bones for the dogs and always remembered to buy gifts for the employees’ children. She loved her son, Rand.
I worked with her for three years at the SNRA and saw her two weeks ago at St. Luke’s hospital in her room where we held hands and laughed about the past.
So far, so good, Roma.
Nice talking to you.