Spirited tales of dynamic local women | SteamboatToday.com

Spirited tales of dynamic local women

Book honors ten distinctive women in Routt County

Allison Plean

Susanne Holloran and Marles Humphrey with the manuscript of their book, "Lilies of Our Valley: Stories of Routt County Women." They will be doing a book signing at Off The Beaten Path Bookstore from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

— Marles Humphrey and Susanne Holloran spent five years writing a book illustrated with original pastels and old photographs as a tribute to 10 distinctive women in the Yampa Valley.

The project began as a way to honor Natalie Stanko, who helped Holloran raise her children after Holloran was widowed. The original idea was to feature nine other ranching women.

“But the ranching women’s stories were all similar,” Humphrey said. “They were about back-breaking work and a lot of tragedy. So we decided to mix the traditional with the new women. The blending of the people who come here is what makes our valley so special.”

Each of the 10 women featured has a connection to the land or animals and made the best of their lives despite hardship. Humphrey and Holloran choose the lily to symbolize them because of its beauty and resiliency.

But then they discovered that “lily” also was the name given to prostitutes who frequented gold mining camps, Humphrey said. “You might say the only thing they have in common is that they both hail from the West.”

Humphrey tells the stories of the women by using many of their own quotes.

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“What I tried to do as a writer is make you feel like you were in their homes with these people,” she said. “I didn’t want to tell it in my words. I wanted to tell it in their words and I believe we did that.”

It was Humphrey’s background in journalism and Holloran’s experience in art therapy that came together to make the book happen. But much of the credit for the completion of the project is given to Holloran.

“Susie Holloran was a bulldog. She was not going to let this project die and would not give up on it no matter what,” Humphrey said. “That’s why it’s here.”

The book will be for sale at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Epilogue and other retail locations around town.

“I’m proud that we got to know these ladies who opened up to us and let us into their hearts,” Humphrey said. “And I’m proud that they trusted us enough to give us the stuff they gave us.”

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