In Memoriam: Henrietta (Hank) Mutz of Red River

It could be said that Hank Mutz already had a taste for the adventurous life before she came to Red River to stay: She traveled to Red River ­– alone – in August 1944 for a summer vacation. “I took a Greyhound Bus to Raton and rode from Raton to Eagle Nest by school bus,” Hank told the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle in an earlier interview, and then I caught the mail truck from Eagle Nest to Red River.”

Henrietta “Hank” Mutz passed away Jan. 9, 2015. She is survived by Johnnie, her husband of 70 years, and daughters Jeannine and her husband Joe Roy Ray, Jan and June. She was born on April 24, 1924 to Warren and Ardith Jones, in the booming metropolis of Oklahoma City. Graduating Classen High School in 1942 with a passion for theatre and music, she went on to attend Oklahoma A & M, now Oklahoma State University to study Radio and Theatre. Hank loved being involved with the historic Freede Little Theatre and was employed by the Daily Oklahoman from 1943-1944 as well as being a member of the Epsilon Alpha business club.

Hank had planned to vacation in Red River with a friend. When the friend backed out, she decided to come anyway. The first day she arrived she met Rosie Brandenburg, an employee at the Monte Vista Lodge where Hank was staying. Rosie said she was impressed with the “big city girl” and added, “We were friends from then on.”

Their friendship lasted over 70 years.

During her stay, Hank decided to take a guided horseback trip with Johnnie Mutz’s rental outfit and ended up falling in love with the dashing young cowboy. She was inclined to stay in Red River an extra couple days and in the fall they met in Amarillo between elk hunting seasons—chaperoned by parents of course. Soon after, he presented her with an engagement ring and they married one year later, Jan. 11, 1945.

The newlyweds lived on the Mutz family ranch north of Elizabethtown where this “city girl” adapted well, becoming a skilled horsewoman, hunter and rancher. Then the duo ran Aspen Park near the Upper Red River Valley, where they offered horseback rides as well as guided fishing and elk hunting trips. Later Hank worked at Red River Ski Area in ticket sales while Johnnie ski patrolled as well as taught skiing and even managed the ski area for a year. When Johnnie started his excavation business, she did the books, managed the household and raised the three daughters. Hank took special care to drive them to Taos for ballet lessons, music lessons and school. All three girls graduated from Taos High School.

Hank’s love for Red River was evident in her involvement in the community. She organized the Red River Women’s Club, Friends of the Library, Red River Historical Society and was a member of the Silver Spruce Club of Eagle Nest.

In accordance with Hank’s wishes there will be no service. Donations can be made in memory of Hank to the Red River Historical Society or The American Parkinson’s Disease Association.

— by Michelle Duregger, Sangre de Cristo Chronicle, January 24, 2015

Note: The Mutz family and Ellen Miller-Goins contributed information and reporting for this piece.

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