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July 11, 1924 -
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I am Basque. I was born on July 11, 1924, in the beautiful small village, of Nachitua in the Basque province of Vizcaya in Northern Spain, adjacent to the Bay of Biscay, not far from the Pyrenees Mountains. My birth name was Mary Begonia Gorrono. My father John Gorrono was a shepherd, who immigrated to the United States in 1919. He raised sheep in the western U.S. and occasionally returned to Spain to see his family. In May of 1933, I, an eight-year-old child, along with my mother Demetria Gorrono and my three year old brother Eduardo (Eddie) Gorrono began our immigration to the United States. We sailed from Spain on a ship bound for New York City. That trip was both exciting and scary. The accommodations were sparse at best and it seemed to take a very long time. My first view of America was the beautiful Statue of Liberty. It seemed like we went from one long line to another, but soon cleared the immigration process and were at a train station. That was scary, as we could not speak the language and were guided to the train with our tickets around our necks. My mother had a thermos full of coffee and sandwiches and our journey out West began with our final destination being Grand Junction, Colorado. As the trained pulled into Grand Junction, it was so exciting to see my father, and our small family was joined together in America. We lived in Grand Junction for a few years staying at a Basque boarding house. I started school there and began my new life. My early school years were hard, kids made fun of me as I could not speak the language very well and my olive Mediterranean complexion was not common out West. Eventually we moved to Montrose where my father had established his sheep business. We had our main house in Montrose, but for a while, I remember having to go to a one room schoolhouse on log hill by horseback. We had a ranch near Ridgway, other pasture land near Colona, and larger acreage near Horsefly Peak and above Telluride. That was a wonderful time for me as I grew up. I learned to speak English very well, I studied hard, and graduated from Montrose High School. After high school, I got a good job with the phone company here in Montrose. I was a switchboard operator, which was really fun. As World War II began, I had to quit that job because I was foreign born, but I was lucky enough to get a job with the Daily Press Newspaper in the advertisement department. After the war, I got my job back with the telephone company. In 1950, I married Frank Kauffman, a pharmacist, he owned several small drugstores in Colorado, including the Busy Corner Pharmacy in Montrose. We moved around the state living in Denver, and Colorado Springs, and many small towns. Our marriage was not great, we did however have two beautiful children, our son Krag David Kauffman, and our daughter Kathy Ann Kauffman. Frank and I got divorced in 1967 and my father helped me and the kids move back to Montrose and we were soon on our way to establishing a new life. I continued to work for the phone company in Montrose, this time in the business office as a sales and service representative. Retiring from the Phone company around 1980, I filled my days with gardening, working on my house, taking care of my parents, trail running, and walking around Montrose with my dogs. I was active in my Church, ministered to the sick, and helped a lot of new immigrants to Montrose find jobs and homes. Because I was fluent in three languages, English, Basque and Spanish, I was frequently sought out to help translate for newcomers. I am preceded in death by my Father John Gorrono in 1983, my Mother Demetria Gorrono in 2001, and my brother Eddie in 1999. Looking back, I realized I lived the American Dream. My family immigrated to the United States for a better life and through the hard work of my father and brother we achieved that. We were so proud to all become Naturalized citizens on the same day. I believe I was a good citizen. I paid my taxes, voted in every election and lived my life in a way where I could help others. Yes, I had a good life and I lived it well. I leave my two children, son Krag David Kauffman (wife Karen), and daughter Kathy Graham (husband Bruce), granddaughter Kelly Christiansen, and great grandson Parker. I wish you all happy lives! I am now joining my beautiful family once again in eternal peace, I have missed you so much.