Norma Jo Villalovas
by Brian Manning
WALSENBURG — Norma Jo Panion Villalovas, a volunteer for the Spanish Peaks Library, has deep roots in Walsenburg. She loves history and her volunteer work involves preserving newspaper articles and other archives.
Norma Jo was born in Walsenburg and went through the school system. Her grandfather was a successful businessman who opened the first bakery in Walsenburg around 1900. During the depression, he would give free food to people in need. Her parents later ran a baking business in Walsenburg.
She moved out of the area to attend college and met her husband, Gilbert Villalovas, who was from Climax, Colorado. They married and had three children. He worked in the mine as a foreman, and she taught home economics for 16 years in the Pueblo Schools.
They retired and moved back to Walsenburg six years ago because she enjoys the majestic mountains and has ties to the area.
Not being one to sit around, Norma Jo decided two years ago that she wanted to do volunteer work. She began volunteering at St. Mary’s Church, and also went to the library because of her interest in books and local history.
She began shelving books in the children’s section and since then, has worked on several projects. Because of her love of history, she started working on the events notebook in which newspaper articles are kept as a historical record. She copies the articles and posts them in these books.
Norma Jo also works in the archive room where they have copies of the Huerfano World dating back to 1970 and a microfilm machine for older articles some of which go back to 1901. She helps people do research with these resources.
She also works in a room with historical books and maps of Huerfano County and Trinidad. Many of the books are about mining and local history. Villalovas has a deep respect for the books and is quick to share her knowledge on these subjects.
Villalovas is an asset to the library for the work she does with enthusiasm and a cheerful attitude. She said that she works at a great facility with a wonderful staff and that’s what keeps her coming back.