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Vicki Conklin - April 23, 2013

Vicki L. Conklin, age 65, of Holyoke, died April 23, 2013. She passed peacefully at home, surrounded by her family and loved ones. Vicki Lynn was born to Ardis Marie Kropp and Robert Lewis Conklin on March 17, 1948, in Holyoke.

The first of six children, she grew up watching her household grow with each new little brother or sister, as her beloved hometown was growing around them. She attended and was baptized and confirmed in Zion Lutheran Church. She graduated from Phillips County High School in 1966.

Vicki married James E. Faubel in 1968 and moved to Sacramento, Calif., where he was stationed. In 1969 she came back home to give birth to a daughter, Brenna Michelle. Later she married Larry R. Rothenberger and had a son, Kyle Ray, in 1971.

She briefly attended NJC and instilled in her children a love of reading and lifelong learning. She proved over the years that a formal education was not required to become an expert in a chosen field; curiosity and passion drove her.

While living in Colorado, Vicki worked at various times for Co-op, Holyoke Information Center, Dudden Implement and Speer Cushion. While in Fort Collins, she was a social worker for the Salvation Army.

Vicki loved to travel. She lived in Colorado, Nebraska, California, Arizona and Oregon over the years and had large groups of friends everywhere she lived and worked, along with a house full of plants and a large garden whenever she could. Friends would bring her ailing, half-dead plants, and within days they would be recovering. Everything she tended just seemed to flourish under her green thumb.

Vicki was an excellent embroiderer, and her beautiful work was always displayed proudly on the walls of her home, as well as those of her friends and family.

Vicki returned home from Oregon in 1998 to be near her parents and siblings. Coming home seemed to bring out her passion for Holyoke and the history of the area. She spent many years volunteering at the Phillips County Museum and collecting a large archive of genealogical and historical records. Her greatest pleasure was to share them with others and preserve them for future generations.

Vicki wrote the Times Past column for the Haxtun Herald from 2005-2013 and enjoyed reading 100-year-old papers with her morning coffee. As her health failed, she continued to open the museum to visitors and help anyone who asked with their own family history research. She was able to help people from all over the world find each of their own family connections via the Internet, and it brought her great joy in her final days.

Her MS flares caused her to use a crutch for many years, but even as her health declined and she was forced to use her wheelchair more often, Vicki still worked in her yard and mowed with a push mower. She built raised beds so she could tend her garden more easily. She could be seen zipping around town with her camera, hoping to spot an interesting bird to photograph.

Vicki had a lifelong love of birds, especially owls, prompting her to become an expert backyard birdwatcher. She learned all she could about squirrel behavior to better protect her feathered friends from the vile little critters, and she was especially pleased that her photograph of a Mississippi Kite was featured on the front cover of the September 2008 issue of Colorado Field Notes magazine.

Vicki is survived by her mother, Ardis Conklin of Holyoke; sisters, Gail Harvey of Greeley, Karla Buck of Holyoke and Robin Conklin of Fleming; brother, Eric Conklin of Holyoke; daughter, Brenna Tidwell of Portland, Ore.; son, Kyle Conklin of Holyoke; grandchildren, Joshua, Brandon and Nicholas Tidwell of Portland, Ore., Anastasia Conklin of Holyoke and James, Jacob, Garrett, Elvin and Tyler Conklin of Iowa; and one great-grandson, Logan Waite of Beaverton, Ore.

She is also survived by aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins galore, and she included everyone up to fifth cousin, twice-removed as family. She will be greatly missed on this earthly plane, but she has joined her beloved ancestors on another. Her father, her brother Randy, nephew Troy and great-niece Sophie Leigh have welcomed her into their loving arms and the everlasting peace of heaven.

Services were held April 27 at Gerk Funeral Home, and Vicki’s ashes were interred at the Kropp family plot at the Amherst Cemetery. A memorial lunch was served at the historic Amherst Church, where many of Vicki’s famous recipes were served and enjoyed by family and loved ones.

In honor of her many years and countless hours of research into everyone’s shared history, the family requests all memorial donations go to the Phillips County Museum in her name.

Gerk Funeral Homes was entrusted with the arrangements.