The woman in the sunbonnet leaves legacy that will never die

By Jack King

Teola Artman was a mainstay in Clovis-area scouting for more than 50 years.
Artman, who moved to Clovis in 1930 with her husband Emery, a signal supervisor with the Santa Fe railroad, became a den mother in 1937, when her son, Neil, joined the Cub Scouts. Later, she became a troop leader when her daughter, Ellen, joined the Girl Scouts, wrote local historian Don McAlavy.
She remained active in both organizations until her death in 1995.
Judy Matthews, who got involved in scouting when her daughter, Gwyn, joined a troop, said Artman “basically spearheaded Girl Scouting in this area. If it hadn’t been for Teola, Girl Scouting wouldn’t have been what it is.”
Even after her children were no longer in scouting, Artman remained active. Her specialties were outdoor skills and, as time went by, she graduated to training troop leaders in how to teach their girls these skills, Matthews said.
“We all grew up with her knowledge of campfires and cooking over campfires. She came from a generation that learned by doing and by making do. They didn’t have the money to go out and buy fancy equipment,” she said.
Artman was famous for the old-fashioned sunbonnet she always wore to camps, said Gwyn Del Toro, Matthews’ daughter.
“When we had camp we always had ‘camp names,’ different from our usual ones. Hers was ‘T-Bonnet,’ because she always wore her bonnet,” Del Toro said.
“She was fun. As a child, I found it intimidating to talk to old people, but never to Teola. I think everybody had that same feeling, a kind of grandmotherly feeling, although I know my grandmother wouldn’t know half the stuff Teola did about campfires or knots or knife safety,” she said.
The bonnet played a special role when, in 1985, the Girl Scout’s Sangre De Cristo Council created the Teola Artman Award, which honors volunteers with five years or more of outstanding service at the local level. The award has a picture of Artman’s bonnet on it.
“Her legacy in that community will never die and I think the award is a good a legacy as anything could be,” said Gail Flanagan, the council’s executive director.
Also in the mid-’80s, the Girl Scouts renamed the building on Seventh and Sycamore streets the Teola Artman Girl Scout Little House, according to a history of the house provided by Flanagan.