Era Funk Purcell [Photo courtesy of Spanish Valley Mortuary]

Era Funk Purcell was born on August 6, 1932, in Quayle, Texas.

She grew up on a farm in Dove Creek, Colorado, near Summit Point were James Purcell lived. They met in a church gathering and he decided that she was the girl for him. Her father didn’t believe he was only 18, saying, “He’s 28 if he’s a day!” They were married on July 25, 1953. They had four daughters: Charlotte Sue Purcell Gary, Debra Kay Purcell Perkins, Leslie Dawn Purcell and Shellie Marie Purcell, who passed away in 1970. Era never recovered from the loss of her baby girl and sometimes seemed very fragile because of her grief, but she could be called many things before she would ever be called fragile.

After leaving the military, the couple moved back to Utah, settling in Moab after James got a job as a groundman for UP&L, or as he called it, digging holes. He worked his way up through the ranks and in the meantime, Era washed and ironed clothes for people in their tiny trailer on a plot of land called “poverty flats” to make ends meet until his pay increased; she also went to work for Vernon Erb, who remained her dear friend for the rest of her life.

They didn’t have much money, but they were rich nonetheless. Their honesty and hard work proved their worth in the eyes of the community. People respected and loved them. Much more than any amount of money can buy, their social standing was earned.

Era taught school in a one-room schoolhouse on Summit Point for three years, grades one through eight. She cut her own firewood, taught the kids in every subject and once a month or so, she gave the boys very neatly done haircuts. She truly cared for them and knew what had become of each one of them the day she drew her last breath.

She taught Sunday School classes for hundreds of children in Moab at the Assembly of God Church. Many of them speak fondly of her and she told wonderfully moving stories about them right up to her last days.

Era was a lady, she was a mother, she was a teacher, she was a seamstress, she grew and canned her own food and she did it with grace. She ironed the handkerchiefs and sheets!!!! Seriously! Who does that? She could also burn the crap out of a piece of meat. The longer she was on the earth, the longer she felt the meat should cook, I don’t know why. I don’t think anyone does, not even her.

She had a very strong faith in God and held true to her beliefs no matter what. However shaken losing a child had left her, she never cursed God. Her faith did not waiver.

She was an excellent example to her daughters and could only be condemned slightly for being so completely, madly in love with her one and only grandson. Having a boy was such a joy to her after all of those trouble-making girls. Four daughters, five granddaughters, one grandson. He could do no wrong in her eyes.

Era spent her life in the service of others. When her children needed clothes, she sewed them. When they needed food, she grew it. When anyone she loved needed something we could not afford to buy, she learned to make it. In this and many other ways she made all of us feel rich, even when we were had very little money to go around. She became so adept at providing our needs and desires, that we were indeed rich. If it was within her ability, our desires and wishes were fulfilled.

She left a huge space and no one will ever fill it.

Funeral service was held on Wednesday June 3 at the Moab 1st Baptist Church on MiVida Drive. A viewing was held on June 2 at Spanish Valley Mortuary. Interment will be in the Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

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