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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2004


Heritage Court commends history makers

Five women honored for contributions to valley

First in a series of five

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Historical Museum will host the first Blaine County Heritage Court June 27 at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey to honor community members who have played a role in sustaining a connection to the heritage of the Wood River Valley.

Billie Horne Buhler of Hailey recently finished this quilt her mother started over 60 years ago. Express photo by Matt Furber

For the first year of the event, five women have been nominated by organizations in Carey, Bellevue, Hailey, Sun Valley and Ketchum. The five women are Marge Brass Heiss, 94, of Bellevue; Billie Horne Buhler, 90, of Hailey; Lillian Barker Wright, 85, of Bellevue; Mary Jane Griffith Conger, 78, of Ketchum, and Verda Edwards OíCrowley, 74, of Carey.

"At first I wasnít interested," said Buhler. "A princess at 90? But, then I thought about what it means to the history of this area, and I thought it was a good idea."

Buhler was born in 1914. The daughter of Lena and Robert Horne, she graduated from Hailey High School, where she lettered in basketball all four years. Buhler worked for Mountain States Telephone, and was a deputy sheriff for 13 years.

Buhler traveled extensively in retirement, but she said whenever she returns the view coming into the valley over Timmerman Hill on Highway 75 takes her breath away.

"I canít imagine living anywhere else. I have too many good friends here. I love the spring and the fall."

Buhler also enjoys the early morning hours. In addition to visiting friends at the Blaine County Senior Center, Buhler teaches courses in quilting at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Hailey.

"Iím a professional quilter," she said. "Iíve made over 100 quilts for different people."

One project she recently finished was a quilt she received from her mother that has colorful flower patterns with fabric from the 1930s and 1940s.

"It took me over 60 years, but I got it done. Itís good that I waited. I did a better job now than if I had started when she gave it to me."

In addition to developing her talent for folksy crafts and holding various jobs, Buhler also raised three sons.

She still drives, and is active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Itís good to get out and meet people," she said specifically about her visits to the Senior Center for lunch. "Sociability is as important as the nutrition."

Buhler once made a career of facilitating conversations.

Before she was married to her husband Harold, she worked as a switchboard operator, a job she performed until direct dial telephones became commonplace.

"I still recognize voices better today than I remember names," she said.

Buhler is a third generation Hailey resident. Her grandfather ran a grocery store downtown, and her father was a local representative for Continental Oil.

Buhler grew up with her three sisters and brother in the home that once belonged to Ezra Pound, now called the Hailey Cultural Center. Buhler did not veer far from home. Today, she lives next door.

While the boys were in school, the family was in the milk business. They milked cows on a ranch in the Bellevue triangle, pasteurized the milk and delivered it to Hailey, Ketchum and Bellevue every day.

"Itís a good life," Buhler said "It is simple, but rewarding."

Buhler said the key to a good life is keeping a positive attitude and keeping busy."

For the volunteers involved in the Heritage Court, the key to success is to draw attention to the rich heritage of the Wood River Valley.

The Heritage Court at the Liberty Theater June 27 is scheduled from 3 to 4 p.m. After the ceremony at the theater, a reception will spill over to the Blaine County Historical Museum to give people a chance to visit with the women.

"Looking history in the eye is going to be the big point here," said Heritage Court Director Laura Hall. "We will be honoring the folks who have settled and maintained this valley."

Hall said that as historical materials at the museum continue to fade, and as the valley changes, one thing the Wood River Valley will always have is living history.

"I think this is an important point to remember," she said.

The five women also were recently honored with an invitation to be the grand marshals for Haileyís Fourth of July Parade.


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