In memoriam: Shirley Mitton

       Shirley Mitton, a popular Westside artist for many years, died Aug. 19 at a local health care center. She was 81. Shirley Mitton. 
Courtesy of Ken Emery
       The body went to cremation. Memorial services are pending.
       She is survived by Ken Emery, her companion and business partner for the past 27 years in the El Dorado Gallery, 2627 W. Colorado Ave.; as well as three children from a previous marriage -sons David and Edward and daughter Catherine, six grandchildren and two step-granddaughters, and several great-grandchildren.
       Mitton was known for her paintings of the region's historical buildings, including ones of the Westside's Old Colorado City shopping district and the Husted House. According to Emery, prints from "12 or 13" of those paintings will continue to be sold at the gallery.
       He and Mitton met through mutual friends when she and others were planning to start an art gallery that would become the El Dorado. At the time, Emery had a furniture-making shop in Canon City. "I said I could do the framing," he recalled.
       As the shop plans move forward, the ownership wound up just being Mitton and himself. "We went in partners on the shop," he said. " We never did get married, but we lived together for 27 years."
       The shop was originally in the 2500 block of the avenue, moving to its current location about five years ago.
       Asked for recollections about their time together, Emery said, "We mostly worked."
       Until the last couple of years, when Shirley's health started declining, she and Ken did get to travel now and then, including visits to Santa Fe, where she enjoyed visiting the galleries; or to visit her daughter in California, he said.
       "Ken and Shirley started the gallery from nothing," said Barbara Goodwin, an oil painter with El Dorado who had known her a long time. "She had some struggles in her life, as all people do, but she was quite the gal."
       Mitton was born July 30, 1926, in Shields, Kan., to Claude and Reva Ehrhart (both deceased). Seeking remedies for Reva's tuberculosis, the family moved to Colorado Springs in 1933. Mitton's
       Claude had a service station at Brookside and Tejon (where the Circle K is now), Emery said. This later became the subject for one of Shirley's paintings, titled "Service with a Smile."

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