Phyllis Marie Calderon (Durgan), 91, of Bozeman, Mont., passed away Feb. 16, 2014. She was born Dec. 11, 1922, in Livingston, Mont., to Harry Durgan and Ragna (Peterson) Durgan, whose families were early homesteaders in the Paradise Valley. She graduated from Park County High School in 1940 and attended the Columbus School of Nursing in Great Falls. There she met her husband-to-be, Joe Calderon, who was stationed in Great Falls before being sent overseas in World War II. After graduating from nursing school, Phyllis joined the Army and served as a nurse until the end of the war. She and Joe were married and made their home in Bozeman, where their four children were born. Phyllis loved history and her children remember their many trips to explore old forts and ghost towns in the West. Phyllis was a strong and independent woman. She and Joe divorced in 1964. She was tired of living in cold and snow and moved her family to Silver City, N.M., where she worked as a geriatrics nurse at Fort Bayard Hospital for 22 years. She felt strongly about education and made sure all her children earned higher education degrees. At the age of 48, she fulfilled a lifetime dream of becoming a librarian by moving to Kentucky to earn a master's degree in library science from the University of Kentucky. She returned to New Mexico and continued nursing while working part-time as a librarian for Western New Mexico University. Phyllis retired from nursing in 1986 and spent the next 12 years selflessly caring for her aging mother. The two took many trips together including a cross-country train trip and a coast-to-coast bus trip. Phyllis moved to Albuquerque after her mother died and spent many carefree years there enjoying outings, trips and special times with her daughters. In 2011 she decided she wanted to return home to Montana. Although she suffered from dementia in the final years of her life, she was happy all the time. She brought joy to all who cared for her and will be remembered for her beautiful smile. The family extends special thanks to the staff of the Spring Creek Inn. A more loving community of caregivers could not be found. They gave Phyllis love, comfort, safety and joy during the last two years of her life. She was blessed to have made the Spring Creek Inn her final home in Bozeman. Phyllis was preceded in death by her father Harry, mother Ragna, son Douglas Calderon, son-in-law Glenn Morris and grandson Daniel Holthusen. She is survived by her daughters Rita Morris of Lordsburg, N.M.; Theresa Gutierrez (Gilbert) of Albuquerque; and Linda Holthusen (Keith) of Albuquerque; 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. At her request, cremation has taken place and a private family service will be held later in the summer. Memorials may be made in Phyllis' name to Hospice, c/o Bozeman Deaconess Foundation, 915 Highland Blvd., Bozeman, MT 59715 or to
, Montana Chapter, 3010 11th Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101.
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Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Feb. 21, 2014