Obituary for Ila Matz (Firkins)
Ila Iola Firkins Matz passed away peacefully at Hildebrand Care Center on September 15, 2017, just four months short of her 100th birthday. Ila was born to Willis and Mary Ann Firkins on a cold and snowy night at home on January 20, 1918, at the corner of Cherry and Raynolds in Canon City. Dr. Webb was in attendance. She was a sickly baby and was not expected to live long. She fooled everyone, outliving them all.
Ila had very fond memories of growing up with four sisters and five brothers. The family lived “on the plains”, six miles south of Calhan for several years during the depression. They were poor but did not know it; they had everything that counted. Without toys, they made their own fun. She remembered that in addition to helping out in the house, she hoed pinto beans in very long rows and milked six of their 25 cows before and after school.
During their stay in Calhan, there were several bad snow storms and blizzards, where her dad would put a wire from the house to the barns, pig pens, and outhouse so they would not get lost taking care of the animals.
Ila met her future husband, Emil Raymond “Ray” Matz, at a very young age when he worked on the farm for her dad in Calhan. They married on January 21, 1936, one day after her 18th birthday. They left immediately for Wisconsin to work on Ray’s uncle’s farm. Ila left believing she would never see her family again. A couple years later, they returned, never to leave again. They were happily married for 53 years, until Ray passed away on January 28, 1989.
Ila attended grade school in Calhan, middle and high school in Canon City. For much of her adult life, she was a caregiver, working for Grace Greene, first taking care of Grace’s mother, and eventually caring for Grace for more than 15 years.
Ila was a great cook and loved trying new recipes and making special deserts. She and her sister, Opal, would spend many days during the summer making and freezing dozens of Petit Fours for the Christmas Bazaar. At a young age, she also helped her mother in cooking for the family. She loved telling how long it took to make enough pancakes for her brothers because they could eat so many.
Ila enjoyed all kinds of crafts and only had to look at something at a craft fair or in a magazine to be able to recreate it. She spent many hours crocheting. Her passion later in life was china painting and her family has many treasured pieces of her artistry. Growing up in the country, she knew the names of every flower, tree and bird. She showed her love of flowers, especially pink roses, in her china painting.
Ila is survived by her son, Robert Raymond Matz (Patricia Javernick), of Canon City; grandchildren, Suzanne Lassen (Gary), of Petaluma, California, Richard Matz (Jeanna), of Santa Rosa, California, Mark Tursick, of Canon City, Angela Brady (Dean), of Canon City, Kathy Hedlun, of Fruita, Colorado, Diane Hall, of Reno, Nevada; great-grandchildren, Drew Lassen, of Monterey, California, Elsa Tursick, of Canon City, William Tursick, of Canon City, Robert Richard Matz, of Santa Rosa, California, Adam Matz, of Santa Rosa, California, Jessica Hedlun, of Fruita, Colorado, and Laura Hedlun, of Fruita, Colorado. Also surviving is her sister-in-law, Louise Firkins, along with numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
Ila was preceded in death by her daughter, Elsa Marie Serve; sisters, Zoetta Firkins, Ruth Foraker, Norma Swart, Opal Bolenbaugh; brothers, Burdett, Norrell, Elvin, Walter, Oliver; granddaughters, Loraine Tursick, Yvonne Stinson; great-grandsons, Bram Stinson and Matthew Stinson.
Services will be held at the First United Methodist Church where Ila was an active member for over 84 years, frequently helping out with funeral dinners and the Christmas Bazar.
Visitation, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, September 21, Wilson Memorial Chapel, 1449 S. 9th St. in Canon City. Funeral Service, 11:00 a.m. Friday, September 22, First United Methodist Church, 801 Main St., in Canon City, with interment to follow at Lakeside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the First United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 801 Main Street, Canon City, CO 81212.