For over four decades, if visitors to Red River noticed gorgeous flowers in front of Town Hall or the Little Red Schoolhouse, they had Lottie Tweed to thank.
Longtime Red River resident Carlotta “Lottie” Tweed died Aug. 27, 2018, in Glendale, Arizona. Born Dec. 7, 1931, in Kansas, she was the 9th of 11 children born to Esther and John Oelke. She grew up a farm girl near Hoxie, Kansas and often talked about the antics she and “brother Johnnie” would get into while milking the cows or harvesting the milo.
Lottie attended St. John’s College and received an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts. She moved to El Paso, Texas, where she met Ray Tweed. They married July 1, 1956, and had two sons, Scott and Craig, before moving to Red River, New Mexico, in 1966.
They leased and ran several restaurants — including the chalet at Red River Ski Area — before buying their own place in 1971, an apartment building on Main Street they converted into The Highlander restaurant. Lottie ran “the front” and Ray ran “the back.”
The Tweeds sold the restaurant in 1997 and retired in Red River. Lottie was very active in town where she was president of the Community House for over 20 years, and head of the beautification committee, which planted and maintained flowers every summer at Town Hall and put up Christmas decorations in Brandenburg Park and along Main Street for the holidays.
Even before the town was officially incorporated, Lottie and Judy Brunson, another longtime local, and others took on the task of beautifying Red River by planting flowers around town.
“I lived in Red River for 50 years and the [Town beautification] went on in Red River for at least 4O years,” Brunson said. “And the Christmas lights went on for maybe 25 years?”
In spring of 2000, Lottie created the “Aunt Becky Coffelt Memorial Garden” at the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Rebecca Coffelt lived in town — and helped operate the “Esther” mine — from the late 1800s through the 1930s.
She planted flowers named by Laura R. Krehbiel in the booklet “Red River New Mexico, Your Mountain Playground,” published in l938, and quizzed a few old timers about the flowers in Aunt Becky’s garden.
It was described by Krehbiel as “a beautiful garden of mountain flowers; delphiniums which tower over your head, all kinds of columbine, bright yellow poppies, and so many others that her yard in midsummer is a riot of color” as well as iris, violets, petunias, lilies, Sweet William, and others Lottie worked to identify with the help of area nurseries.
“Think how pretty this all will be in the fall,” she told The Chronicle.
In 2002, Lottie told The Chronicle her greatest joy, besides gardening, was catering to her grandchildren, twins Lindsey and Hailey and little sister Carley, their cousin Jessica and her brother Duncan.
“We go roller skating at the Playhouse. Sometimes we go for long walks and we talk about the trees and the animals … things like that. We’re outdoors a lot. We go hiking. They ride the chairlift and then we walk back down. We take a picnic lunch. The little girls also love to ride horses.”
In 2014, Lottie and Ray moved to Glendale, Arizona.
Lottie lost Ray October 2017, and stayed in Glendale until she passed on August 27th, 2018. She is survived by one brother, Paul Oelke of Hoxie, Kansas; two sisters, Clarice Hyde of Sacramento, California, and Carol Junge of Sun City West, Arizona; her two sons, Scott Tweed and wife Kathleen of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Craig Tweed and wife Janet of Glendale, Arizona; “honorary son” Bruce Jassmann and his wife Gina of Angel Fire, New Mexico; five grandchildren (Jessica Tweed Medlin, Duncan Tweed, Lindsey Tweed, Hailey Tweed Austin and Carley Tweed) and three great-grandchildren.
She loved everyone she met and truly lived a blessed life. Lottie had a faith in Jesus that she displayed wherever she went. In the summers she taught Sunday school at the Community House and she made sure her two sons were in church every weekend, rain or shine. She will be missed by all who knew her.
How can you put into words 50 years of friendship,” Judy Brunson said. “She was definitely a woman of substance but we had a lot of laughs and lot of good times. I have very fond memories. She was a very special lady. We all knew that. Not only that but she made the best cream puffs in the world. I have her recipe, but mine don’t seem to come out like hers.”
In a Chronicle article remembering the life of Don Williams, longtime owner of William’s Trading Post, Judy recalled, “He taught me and Lottie Tweed how to bugle for elk. We’d get up at 4 a.m. in fall and drive over to the valley.” Judy remembers Lottie mastered the skill first. When Judy finally was successful, she said Don said “let’s be still and listen.” Judy says they heard “gobble, gobble, gobble — Judy had scared up 12 little turkeys. “We laughed a lot!”
“She was just an amazing woman!” longtime friend Judy Miller said. “She was loving and devoted to her family. She was very giving — to her family, her friends, and to the community. She was just delightful to be with.”
In lieu of flowers memorial gifts can be sent to Northwest Valley Young Life, Cactus Campership, 4318 W Michigan Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85308. Celebration of Life services will be held in Arizona and Kansas in future months