(Left to right) Gwyn Del Toro, Art Cane and Judy Matthews look at the Teola Artman memorial that was unveiled Saturday afternoon. (Staff photo: Mike Linn)
By William Thompson: Freedom Newspaper
The late Teola Artman, who dedicated over 50 years of her life to area Girl Scouts, was honored yesterday at Hillcrest Park with a permanent bronze plaque donated by the Sangre de Cristo Council and local sponsors.
The plaque stands at the site of the former Teola Artman Girl Scout Little House near a still-standing stone fireplace. The house was torn down earlier this year for safety reasons.
Around 60 guests witnessed the unveiling of the plaque, including Artman’s daughter and granddaughter, Ellen and Barbara Verner, who flew in from Houston to attend the ceremony.
Ellen Verner, teary-eyed at times, said she was grateful for the public recognition of her mother.
“I just think it’s wonderful that they are honoring her in this way,” she said. “My mother always said that scouting did more for her than she did for it, but I’m not sure about that.”
City Manager Raymond Mondragon was on hand to deliver remarks.
“We know how important this spot is to a lot of people, how emotional people get over this spot,” Mondragon said. “When Girl Scouts have a picnic here, they can come over and look at this plaque.”
The bronze plaque reads, “In Memory of Teola Artman, the ‘First Lady’ of Girl Scouting in Curry County.”
The plaque has a permanent picture frame with a photo of Artman wearing her trademark bonnet.
Diana Ormerod, president of the Santa Fe-based Sangre de Cristo Council — the governing body of Girl Scouts in New Mexico — said Artman inspired her.
“I am a better person for having known Teola Artman,” Ormerod said. “She always said, ‘don’t grumble,’ and ‘give, give, give.’ The younger women said, ‘I want to be just like her when I grow up.’”
Barbara Verner said she learned many girl scout skills from her grandmother.
“She taught me a lot about knot tying and outdoor cooking,” she said. “When I was young I thought girl scouting was her job because she put so much time into it.”
Artman died in 1995 and Girl Scout officials said she devoted herself to scouting, even in her final days. She began her leadership role in the Girl Scouts in 1937 when the first Clovis local council was formed. The Girl Scout house at Seventh and Sycamore was built in 1947. It was later renamed after Artman for her decades of service.
Now, a bronze plaque stands at the site where Artman taught many young women how to lead Girl Scouts troops.
Girl Scout Samantha Nichols, 13, said she will remember Artman in her own way.
“I keep remembering the house that used to sit here,” she said. “I recognize that Teola Artman did what she loved.”