Arleta (Finch) Carr had an idyllic childhood. She grew up on a small farm on the Western edge of Fruita, just across the Big Salt Wash. She had two sisters, older and younger. Arleta was the tomboy; she was the one most often helping her father around the farm. Sometimes the work was not her favorite thing to do, but she didn’t complain because she was helping her dad and didn’t have to do housework on those days.
As a nine-year-old, she got to miss school to help drive the tractor for hay harvest. Arleta drove the straight lines, and when it was time to turn around her dad would jump on the tractor to help her turn and then jump back off to help load the hay. This saved hiring one extra farmhand. Along with farm work, Arleta also helped her dad with carpentry work when they built the barn and the addition on the house.
The Finches were poor, yet Arleta never felt poor. They had chickens, milk cows, livestock and a vegetable garden. They finally got running water in the house when Arleta was in high school.
Arleta was the salutatorian in a graduating class of 42 students, and the only one to go directly on to college. She graduated from Western State College with a degree in elementary education.
She met Duane at Western State in Gunnison Colorado. Duane was a year ahead of Arleta. They were married in September, 1954. They had originally planned the wedding for the following summer, but Duane was unable to get a deferment from the draft in order to attend grad school. They found out that Duane would get $60 more a month while he was in the service if he was married, so they pushed up the date.
Arleta, her mother and two sisters sewed the wedding dress and all of the dresses for the wedding party in six weeks, using two sewing machines. Moving the wedding date forward turned out to be a real blessing because Arleta’s mother died the following January. Her mother thoroughly enjoyed planning the wedding and working on the dresses with her daughters.
Arleta and Duane lived together at Western State for six weeks before Duane went into the Army. When Arleta finished school she joined Duane in Olympia, Washington. Their son Dan was born in 1956. (Arleta taught school, some of it substitute teaching, at all the stops from Olympia to Cedar Rapids.)
The next stop for the Carrs was West Lafayette, Indiana, where Duane received his PhD. Their son Don was born in 1957. The part Arleta liked about having her two children close together was being able to get through the diaper stage and put that in the rearview mirror.
Duane taught for a year at Wabash College in Crawfordsville Indiana, and then the Carrs moved on to Cedar Rapids Iowa where Duane taught at Coe College. They put down roots and immersed themselves in the local community. Arleta, as always, was very active in the League of Women Voters. She served as the local president and other positions on the board. One year Arleta participated in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa, along with over 6000 other bicycle riders.
The Carrs were in Iowa for 33 years, except for the sabbatical years from 1968 to 1970 when Duane taught for the agricultural branch of Haile Selassie University in a rural area of Ethiopia. Their boys were 11 to 13 and 12 to 14. When the Carrs returned from Ethiopia, Arleta went back to school to get her Master’s degree.
During the Iowa years, Arleta started out teaching a preschool development class. This was special ed. at a preschool level. Seeing these children open up under her care really touched Arleta’s heart. Then Arleta moved on to work as a parent-child educator, where she visited special ed. preschoolers in their homes. During her visits she would observe the parent interacting with the children, and demonstrate for the parent how to work/play with the children.
In the summer of 1988 the Carrs undertook the monumental project of building a cabin in the mountains. It is near the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, about 20 miles north of Lake City, Colorado. It is on an 80 acre parcel that was a timber claim Duane’s father never mortgaged, and was part of the Carr ranch where Duane grew up.
Other than the cabin foundation the Carrs built everything, with the help of friends. All of the architectural plans for the cabin were done by Arleta and her son Don over the previous Christmas break, and they spent the entire summer camping and working on the cabin. Friends from Iowa arrived at different intervals to help. Arleta loved doing the carpentry work. That summer was the best time of her life. The Carrs continued to improve upon the cabin over the years. Arleta and Duane spend a lot of time with friends and family at their second home in the mountains.
In 1996 Arleta and Duane retired and moved to Grand Junction. It wasn’t long before Arleta was investing her tireless energy in the local community, the League of Women Voters, and the UU congregation. The Carrs have been to more UU General Assemblies (the national UU convention) than you can count on two hands, and several of those were as official UUCGV delegates. Arleta has held innumerable UU leadership positions, including two stints as president.
The congregation accomplished a great deal during her presidency, partly because Arleta’s specialty was delegation. Of Arleta’s many contributions to the congregation, perhaps her highest offering was getting people involved. She feels that the best way to make people feel at home is to have them help. The asking is a gift: an opportunity to be of service. All Arleta has to do to know, about how good it feels to be of service, is to think back to how good she felt, out there in the field, helping her dad.
Life goes on... in endless song…