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Dolores Coulson Buckner worked for Peace Corps in Libya
Dolores Coulson Buckner worked for Peace Corps in Libya
A life remembered: Dolores Coulson Buckner
By Valerie Kimble
For El Defensor Chieftain
It is said that one of the most important accomplishments a person can achieve in life is to know who they are, and to live the life they were meant to live.
Dolores Coulson Buckner was just such a person.
She was the wife of a family physician who later became Socorro's first doctor-elected-mayor, the mother of four children, and a loving grandmother and great-grandmother.
Dolores also was an accomplished artist, a business owner in her own right, and a woman who did not allow life's challenges to get the best of her. Instead, she led by example, never allowing adversity to interfere with the simple joys she found in just living.
Dolores Rogers was born in Helena, Missouri, but moved with her family to Kansas as a young girl. Her father, a carpenter, eventually settled with his family in Colorado.
It was in Colorado where Dolores met Eugene Coulson; who, with his brothers, owned a dairy business. Gene Coulson delivered milk by horse-drawn cart and made extra money working at the diary as a "soda jerk," all while attending medical school in Boulder.
Both were smitten with the other; but matters such as these often need a woman's gentle nudge. Dolores would take her younger sister, Betty, to the dairy for a milk shake, but she was really going to flirt with Gene.
Love found its course, and the couple married in All Saints Episcopal Church on Sept. 4, 1949 in Loveland, Colo.
Gene Coulson's path to a medical degree took a circuitous route and 14 years, including a stint in the Navy. After completing his residency in Ogden, Utah, the Coulson family moved to Socorro on July 4, 1959, where Gene set up a family practice.
"He loved this town, and I know my mom did, too," said Jane Coulson, the second of the four Coulson children. She and her older sister, Toddy Lee, and brother, Cary, were born in Colorado. Youngest child Peggy was the only Coulson offspring born in Socorro.
Doc Coulson soon developed a thriving practice in a medical complex built by the late contractor Dick Gibson, who became a devoted family friend. Coulson gave more vaccinations and delivered more babies than he could count. Today, there are a number of grown men who bear the first name "Coulson." It was an honor and a tradition among Native Americans to name their newborn children after someone they admired.
Dolores was admired in her own right. She was an attractive woman with dark hair and an olive complexion that some people mistook for Hispanic characteristics, an error that delighted Dolores, who was named for her mother's favorite movie star of the time, Mexican actress Dolores del Rio.
She also was an artist who began painting in oils and switched to watercolor scenics. Dolores found inspiration in old houses, barns and corrals, infusing such ordinary scenes with an artist's touch for color and mystery.
The Bosque del Apache was another of Dolores's favorite sights. She loved to take photographs of the wildlife refuge in its autumn reds and golds, and later transfer her reflections onto canvas.
Never one to be idle, Dolores constantly took art classes and workshops to improve her skills.
She was active in the Philanthropic Educational Organ-ization, Eastern Star, bridge clubs and other "ladies' groups" of the time, including the volunteer "Gray Ladies" at Socorro General Hospital.
Dolores kept her youthful figure by playing golf and tennis. At one time she was a member of a bowling team at Fence Acres that once included Mary Fern Barker, Nell Givens and Marge Bushman.
The Coulsons moved to Libya in 1968, when Gene accepted a position with the Peace Corps. In 1969, after their return, Gene reopened his medical practice and ran successfully for mayor of Socorro. Dolores, meanwhile, opened her own business,a gift shop and gallery on California Street she named The Piñon Tree.
The store reflected Dolores's own tastes, and filled a need in the community for a speciality shop. She accepted paintings on consignment, and added a selection of Hallmark greeting cards and a bridal gift registry.
The 1980s brought changes. Gene died on April 1, 1981, and Dolores sold The Piñon Tree to Barbara Rubes and Marge Trujillo who changed the name to Bambi's.
Dolores remarried, and in 1988 she and her husband Roy Buckner (he was Becky Funkhouser's father) moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas where she began a new life. She was active in her church, and joined the Mother-to-Mother ministry, whereby women "adopted" young, single mothers down on their luck, and taught them life skills needed to survive.
Dolores's own mother had taught her not to lay blame on anyone but oneself for the trials and tribulations encountered along the pathway of life. She taught her own children the importance of forgiveness, and the fact that "you can't change anyone" except yourself.
Following the death of her husband, Roy, Dolores moved to Albuquerque where she died on Oct. 9. She is survived by two sisters and a brother of the original 10 children, and numerous nieces and nephews. Dolores also leaves behind her four children: Toddy Lee Coulson Williams, of Albuquerque; Jane Coulson, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Cary and his wife Marilyn, of Farmington; and Peggy Gonzales and husband Henry, of Woodland Park, Colo.
Surviving grandchildren are Alvan Williams III, Brad and Brittany Gonzales, Coy and Jenna Coulson, and one great-grandchild, Paris Williams. Dolores was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Valerie Williams, who died in October 2002 at the age of 28.
The family has asked that donations in Dolores's memory be made to the Socorro Public Library, Socorro General Hospital, or to a charity of their choice.