Emmy Wehrlin poses at her piano-organ with what she called her "Gallery of Fame," pictures of some of the students she taught throughout the years.

Courtesy photo

Emmy Wehrlin poses at her piano-organ with what she called her "Gallery of Fame," pictures of some of the students she taught throughout the years.

Teacher brings Europe to Craig

— The little dark-haired girl loved to fish the lakes and streams of Switzerland with her father. Born April 7, 1893, and the youngest of 10 children, Emmy Pavid had many people to share her love of life with as she was growing up.

Just 75 miles away from the Pavid home, Walter Wehrlin was born in Bischofcell, Switzerland, on April 22, 1891. He left his home in 1915 and came to embrace a new life in America.

Walter was living near Kremmling and working as a mechanic when he joined the U.S. Army to fight in World War I on June 28, 1918. A little more than a month later, he was granted naturalized citizen status on Aug. 10, 1918. When he was discharged six months later at the end of the war, he was given $60 to return home to the Colorado mountains. He went to work for the Colorado Highway Department based in Radium. He was transferred to Craig in 1938.

Emmy Pavid studied music in Europe before immigrating to the United States in 1923. She used her musical and artistic ability to make her way across the country to Colorado where the streams and lakes remind her of her homeland. Three years after arriving in America, she opened an art studio in Denver.

"It is a small shop, but abounds in beautiful and original works of art. Mme. Pavid is an artist of high standing.

"She teaches all kinds of decorative work, but specializes in clay work and teaches this interesting art free of charge if the pupils buy the materials at her shop." (Denver Catholic Register, July 15, 1926)

During her stay in Denver, Emmy was invited to take part in an International Welcome pageant staged by Rotary International for its members June 14 to 18, 1926. Emmy represented Switzerland during the pageant, and wore her native costume with pride and dignity.

As much as she loved the arts, Emmy loved the outdoors more. She soon found a haven in Radium, and spent many days fishing and hunting with friends. Her scrapbook is full of pictures showing massive strings of trout, trophy deer and other game. She looked as elegant in khaki pants and boots as she did in a stage costume.

It isn't clear whether Walter or Emmy came to the Yampa Valley first, but they met in Craig, were married on Sept. 9, 1940, and made a happy home in their new community. The house was filled with music and friends, and Emmy always was working on art projects.

The couple had no children of their own, but Emmy took maternal pride in her piano students and kept a gallery of their pictures over her piano. She took delight in her students' progress and in showing them off during regular recitals. Many young Craig residents got their first taste of public performance under Emmy Wehrlin's careful tutelage.

Snake River resident Connie Fleming Spicer remembered what made Emmy such a special part of so many lives: "I came to know her not only as a piano teacher but as a linguist, artist/crafter, sportswoman, and mentor. Her lessons were well-executed, concise and very interesting ... her typewriter had markings for other languages, and she told us she spoke five languages. For Christmas, she made us creations of wire and beads, sequins and crochet in the form of jewelry boxes, pins, and one year, evening purses in colors to match our formals." (Museum of Northwest Colorado)

Walter retired from the highway department in 1954, and the couple began spending their winters in the warmer climate of Nevada. He died on Christmas Eve 1965, when he suffered a heart attack while driving his car. He was brought back to Colorado and buried in Radium.

Emmy kept busy with her students, her art and fishing until her death on Nov. 16, 1977.

The Wehrlin's didn't leave children to carry on their name, but they did leave a rich legacy of culture and love of life to the young people of the Yampa Valley.

One of the school pictures in her collection bears the inscription, "To as fine an old lady as I've known." That she was.

Written for the Museum of Northwest Colorado and Craig Daily Press

Comments

rosie 5 years, 12 months ago

I have taken the Craig Daily Press for a long time. I use to live in Craig, It is where all three of my children were born, My son Danny Love and his family live in Craig.

I have lived in the state of Washington now for a long time. I really do enjoy my home town news paper..I get back there just about every year.

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