Irma “Rosella” Smith…October 13, 1931 – May 10, 2017


Mass of Christian Burial for Irma Rosella Smith will be held at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Las Animas, Colorado. Father Henry Wertin will officiate. Interment will follow in the Bent/Las Animas Cemetery. A Rosary/Scripture service will take place at 7:00 p.m., Monday, May 15, 2017 also at the church. Visitation for Ms. Smith will be on Monday, May 15, 2017 from 9 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. at Horber Funeral Chapel in Las Animas, Colorado.

Irma Rosella Smith, known to most as Rosella, was born on October 13, 1931 in Las Animas, Colorado to Carl Spry Phillips and Pearl Elsie (Scaman) Phillips in Las Animas, Colorado. Rosella, left this earth, surrounded by her family, to be with Jesus on May 10, 2017 at the Bent County Health Care Center in Las Animas, Colorado.

One of 10 children born to Carl and Pearl, she was born during the Great Depression. She lived and went to school in Las Animas up until the 5th grade when her family moved to the Scaman homestead South of Las Animas. She loved to tell the story about how she and her siblings traveled either by walking or riding a horse to the Penrose School that was “down the road, across the creek and up the hill”. Rosella loved music and dancing, her family would turn on a radio or a record and dance in the kitchen with each other or a broom. She thoroughly enjoyed box pie suppers and community dances in the “South Country” at the Frick School or Toonerville Community Building. She related how they would all pile into one car and head off to a dance on Saturday nights. She loved the Thanksgiving and Christmas programs at the school where Santa would bring treats. At the age of 16, Rosella married Robert “Bob” Smith in Raton, New Mexico and from this union she had 3 sons and 6 daughters. She traveled with her husband over several states as he worked for the REA. They worked in Lamar, Springfield, Gunnison and Broken Bow, Colorado, Kearney, Nebraska, Cimarron, Kansas, Ireton, Iowa and Las Vegas, New Mexico. Her favorite place was Gunnison, Colorado, where she told her kids stories about looking down at the streams and being surrounded by the beautiful mountains.

Coming back to Las Animas, they moved to a dryland farm/ranch southeast of town. Rosella loved her children and made a loving home for them. She worked hard and taught her children to do the same. On wash day, bread was baking and the ham and beans were set to simmer, and all the kids had a turn helping her put clothes through the wringer washer and then hanging them out to dry. As her children recall, chicken butchering day was not fun but necessary to the country life. She enjoyed her “Spend the Day Club” as the country wives would get together with all their children and spend the day. When she became a single-mom, life changed and she moved closer into Las Animas. She persevered to obtain her GED and raise her 7 children. She was involved with her kids’ school activities and in 4-H as a leader. Rosella’s home was always open to family and her kids’ friends. Water balloon fights, breakfast at 3:00 a.m. after a community dance or playing cards at the kitchen table are favorite memories of her children.

Her working years consisted of, the La Junta Livestock Café, an aid to a new program in the late 1960’s called Head Start, and finally, at the Bent County Memorial Hospital as a kitchen helper where she was promoted to head cook. She spent the next 20 years cooking for the residents and staff. Rosella was a member of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Las Animas, Colorado, and looked forward each year to working the “Mother’s Kitchen” at the annual church bazaar.

Rosella knew her share of heartache. Her second son Howard drowned in a swimming accident at a neighbor’s pond in 1958. Her oldest son, Bobby, served in the U.S. Marine Corp and did a tour in Vietnam. After his discharge, he returned to Las Animas and a short time later was killed in a car accident returning home from work.

After retirement, she was the main caretaker for her mama, Pearl Phillips whom she loved dearly. When her mama was gone and retirement days were long, she went back to work at the Bent County Nursing Home as a certified feeder to care for her “little old people”. When her health declined, she was admitted to an assisted living facility and then the nursing home where she resided for the last 3 ½ years.

Rosella loved her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and each one of them have special memories of her. Rosella will be greatly missed by her family and many friends.

Rosella is survived by her children, Roxana (Fred) Darnell of Las Animas, Colorado, Connie (Richard) Harris of Las Animas, Colorado, Anita (Vern) Kuhn of Cheraw, Colorado, Sherri Kerr of Lamar, Colorado, Crystal (John) Martinez of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lori (Brian) Palmer of Pueblo West, Colorado, and Bret (Buffy) Smith of Las Animas, Colorado; grandchildren, Ferlin (Janelle) Darnell, Becca (Zach) Diggs, Sara (J.T.) Bain, Adam (Ashley) Harris, Amber (Josh) Williams, Jovie ( Bruce) Butler, Katie (Cornelius) Jordan, Mara (Dominic) Romero, Zach(Shannon) Kuhn, Brienne (Levi) Hansen, Damion (Tina) Kerr, Daylon (Chalynda) Kerr, Robert (Nicole) Trujillo, David Troy (Elizabeth) Martinez, Nyketa (Chris) Noti, and Rachel Palmer; great grandchildren, Alaina and Ty Diggs, Mattie, Mollie and Macci Bain, Bryce and Makynna Williams, JaSanna, Joshua, Eddie and Beau Butler, Zoey Romero, Austin, Hunter, Tanner and Khloe Kuhn, Jason, Remington and Randen Hansen, Hayzen and Bowen Kerr, Michael, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Caleb, and Mariah Trujillo, Emilly and Kyrah Martinez, Cadence Hopkins, Corland and Aubriana Noti; siblings, Gale (Eva) Phillips of Las Animas, Colorado, Don (Charlotte) Phillips of Eads, Colorado, Darlene Sacks of Peabody, Kansas and Fern (Harold) Morlan of Las Animas, Colorado.

Rosella was preceded in death by her parents, Carl and Pearl (Scaman) Phillips; sons, Robert “Bobby” Smith and Howard Arthur Smith; grandson, Dalton Lane Kerr; sisters, Evaline Kenworthy, Virginia Stoker and Edith Hazel Phillips; brothers, Sterling and Charles Phillips.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary’s CCW or the charity of one’s choice in care of, Horber Funeral Chapel, P.O. Bo 431 Las Animas, CO 81054.

For more information, or to leave online condolences, please visit


Filed Under: Obituary


About the Author: