Taos County, New Mexico
Lottie Van Nevel

Lottie Van Nevel, Living Treasure
By Cornelia de Bruin, Scott Sloan, Taos News, October 11, 2001

Some people talk about volunteering while others devote their lives to helping out.

Lottie Van Nevel has given more than 30 years to benefit others. She ran the Taos County Chamber of Commerce's kiosk on Taos Plaza for years "When I retired, I became a full-time volunteer for the Taos County Chamber of Commerce," Van Nevel said. Rose Marie Packard has known Van Nevel since the late 1980s. "She gathered volunteers from her friends and family," said Packard. "She was totally in charge of the kiosk; she did the scheduling and supplied it with materials. It was a seven-days-a-week operation at the time."

Van Nevel also helped the chamber's Women's Division with its gardening efforts at Taos Plaza. "She is a fireball," Packard said. "She's one of the warmest, most generous, loving people I've ever met." Van Nevel held the vice presidency of the chamber Women's Division at one point. She has also given her time to the Valle Escondido Neighborhood Association, the Holy Cross Hospital Auxiliary and the Taos Art Association (TAA). "When she volunteered at TAA, she was always cheerful," said board of directors member Carol Kalom. "She was very upbeat and helpful to visitors and the staff." Kalom described Van Nevel as someone the TAA was lucky to have representing it. "She is one of those treasures that every nonprofit should have," Kalom said. "So many nonprofits depend on their volunteers; we've been very lucky to have her."

Van Nevel's ties to the community of Taos go back five decades.

In 1964, she and her husband, Albert, bought a house near Taos as a second home. At the time, Van Nevel was working at the McGraw-Hill Publishing company in her hometown of Chicago.

In 1980, she moved to Taos permanently. "She is just a wonderful gal," Packard said. "She is always looking out for other people. I'm really fond of her."

Van Nevel was nominated to the Living Treasures by her neighbor of six years, Lisa Winters. Winters has been impressed by Van Nevel and has learned a lot from her. "When she first moved to Taos, she lived in a little cabin in Valle Escondido in 1965," she said. "At that time, she was one of the highest-ranking women at McGraw-Hill." Winters said that Van Nevel is still honored each Christmas by the large publishing company.

Within a month of moving, part-time, to Taos, Winters said that Van Nevel volunteered to help with the chamber. "She's gone nonstop for the chamber for 25 years," Winters said. "She's also helped out at our Valle Escondido clubhouse."

Van Nevel has been involved for years with the Valle Escondido Neighborhood Association, a post that required her to work with city and county officials, as well as take on water rights issues for the association. "She's taking a little break from that now, Winters said. "But she worked for about 12 years for the association."

Winters said she and her husband have learned a lot about the importance of service and volunteerism from Van Nevel. Van Nevel and her husband, Albert, have been married for 61 years.

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© Karen Mitchell