Dr. Zelda Jeanne Rouillard, 1929 - 2008
Zelda Jeanne Ryan was born to Calvin and Marie Ryan in Kearney, Nebraska in 1929. She followed in her father’s footsteps as an English professor, attaining her B.A. in English at Kearney State College, studying as a Fulbright Scholar in Exeter, England, earning her M.A. in English at the University of Wyoming, and earning her PhD in English from the University of Colorado.
While a student at CU, Zelda met Theodore Chase Rouillard, and they were married in June of 1959. They lived in Nederland, Colorado for a number of years, and Zelda taught English at Nederland High School and North High School in Denver. Their son Gregory was born in Boulder in 1966.
In 1969, Zelda and her family moved to Gunnison, Colorado, and she began her long and distinguished career at Western State College. For almost forty years Zelda served the college community, teaching a multitude of undergraduate and graduate English courses, serving as chair of the English department for 6 years, and famously serving as the Commencement Faculty Marshal for nearly three decades. She retired from WSC in 2005, and has spent the last few years “sucking the marrow out of life” in her travels around the world.
Zelda was also very involved in a number of volunteer groups and professional associations, most notably Delta Kappa Gamma and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She held offices and received honors at the local, state, and national level in these organizations.
Away from the campus, Zelda was active in the Dos Rios I Homeowners Association, serving in a variety of offices over the years. She also displayed great generosity to organizations such as the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley, the University of Nebraska Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Colorado State University Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the ASPCA, the Colorado Historical Society, the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League, and numerous other local, regional, and national causes.
Zelda leaves a tremendous legacy in the many lives she has touched as a teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend. She lived every day of her life with courage, gusto, and devotion, giving tirelessly of herself to her family, her friends, and her profession. She died unexpectedly and peacefully of a sudden heart attack. At the last moment of her life, Zelda was “bubbling with excitement” about a recent trip, displaying the boundless enthusiasm for life that so many of us will miss. Her life and death are a tribute to what it means to be fully human, and provide an example of living that all of us can aspire to follow.
Beloved “Grandma Zelda” is survived by her son Gregory, daughter-in-law Cynthia, grandchildren Ryan and Katy, and feline companions Archimedes and Black Kitty.
If you would like to make a financial contribution in memory of this grand lady, your donation in her name to one of these organizations is greatly appreciated.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding bloodZelda's life will be celebrated by family, friends, and community members at 2 PM on Monday, January 5, in the Quigley Recital Hall on the campus of Western State College in Gunnison, CO.
cancer research, education, and patient services. Zelda is a lymphoma survivor.
Family HEART Camp is a week-long community experience in Northern Virginia for parents and children who are longing for more Harmony, Ease, Authenticity, Respect, and Trust in their families. Zelda’s son Gregory is one of the organizers of Family HEART Camp.