We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Scenic Chapel
March 2, 1939-March 11, 2022
Sue Watkins, formerly Sue Van Winkle, of La Luz passed away on March 11, 2022, after suffering a stroke. Friends and family surrounded her with love.
Her former husbands, Jerry Watkins and Al Van Winkle, both of Alamogordo, her parents, Earl and Ann Stratton, and sister, Judy Farrow, predeceased Sue.
Her four children and their spouses, Don & Colene Van Winkle of Boulder, CO, Kathy and Jerry Miller of Mayhill, NM, Judy and Jeff Rabon of Alamogordo, NM, and Laurie and Chuck DeWolf of La Luz, NM, survive her.
Sue’s pride and joy apart from her children were her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Molly Priebe, Judd Priebe, Garett Miller (Marisela) and son Gabriel, Andy DeWolf (Michele), Chase Rabon (Laura) and son Arlo, Travis Rabon (Natalie), Kevin DeWolf (Marisa) and daughter Ivy, Katie Jones (Kyle) and daughters Lorelei and Dakota, and Stacy Jones (Derek). Sue’s marriage to Jerry Watkins, whom she called the love of her life, in 1995 arrived with a second family, all of whom she embraced as her own: Kay and Tommy Standefer, Steve and Karen Watkins. Jan and Brett Toohey, David Watkins, and Kelly Watkins.
Sue’s life was enriched with the relationship she had with her best friend/sister, Jean Stratton and family of Santa Fe, NM. The Stratton sisters raised and loved each other’s children like their own. Kevin, John, Jennifer, Ron, (passed in 2014) and Don are cherished members of Sue’s family.
Sue was born in Portales, NM on March 2, 1939 to Earl and Ann Stratton. Being the middle of three daughters and true to the middle child’s role, she was a bit impulsive, imaginative, a creative daredevil, and peacemaker. That combination of traits continued in her adult life, evolving around passions and again, wrapped in her purpose of serving others. As children, the Stratton sisters were heavily influenced by their Grandmother who lived next door, Ethel Hunter. Sue always credited her Grandmother for eliciting and drawing out her unique take on life and purpose while on the planet.
Sue married her sweetheart from Portales High School, Al Van Winkle, in 1955 and together raised four children. The young couple worked hard together and in 1972 opened The Butcher Shop on Indian Wells Road in Alamogordo. Sue managed all administrative and accounting as the entire family worked shoulder to shoulder to elevate this fledgling venture from start up to a success that eventually served as the capital source for the six store Van Winkle’s IGA grocery operation, that today operates as Lowe’s. A family bond that only comes from working shoulder to shoulder with all members of our family was forged during the Butcher Shop years that Sue, in predictable fashion, nurtured.
Sue was a life long volunteer, embracing each passion to serve with her whole being. In 1967, during the Civil Rights movement, Sue sought permission to start a Girl Scout Troop, Troop 2, operating out of a new Methodist Church that straddled an unspoken line in Alamogordo that separated white from black and brown. Troop 2 became a phenomenon that was rare in southern New Mexico: a dynamic and racially mixed group of young women who at an early age became best friends, co-volunteers and extensions of how we should treat one another as fellow humans, irrespective of color or where we lived. Perhaps by providence or maybe coincidence, Troop 2’s role in the subsequent merging of the two junior high schools in town, postured these young women to model for others the acceptance, love, and respect they felt for one another. Sue always smiled with quiet pride when she heard about those young woman’s later lives and successes.
Organizations and roles Sue served and believed in included Casa, Friends of Camp Mary White, Hospice volunteer, election poll worker of Otero County, Civil Rights Activist, Sunday school teacher at Grace Methodist Church, Girl Scout Leader, Cub Scout Leader, and PTA Volunteer. Her quick mind, love for others, and community presence, all combined and inevitably spawned new forums of service and volunteerism. At one point in her late seventies, as she was going back to volunteer for Hospice, her children, in a half serious/half kidding manner requested that she take a line from AA by saying, “Hi, my name is Sue and I am a habitual volunteer.”
At Sue’s request, her family will hold a celebration of her life in her beautiful orchard in La Luz, when “it is warm and the roses are blooming.”
In lieu of flowers please donate to your favorite charity in Sue's name.
The Watkins family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Scenic Chapel to direct the funeral services.