NLJ Staff

Sept. 4, 1945–Feb. 18, 2023


Velva Gayle (Kruger) Engel, age 77, loving mother of four, and adoring wife to husband Keith Engel, passed away Feb. 18, 2023, of natural causes.


Gayle was born Sept. 4, 1945, in Ovid, Colorado, to her parents, Velva and Del Kruger. She grew up in northeastern Colorado with her brothers, Bill Kruger and Dan Kruger.


She graduated from Sterling High and then went to Northeastern Junior College of Colorado, where she was a part of the rodeo club and choir. 


Gayle met the love of her life, Keith Engel, and they married on Nov. 7, 1965, and built a beautiful life together for the past 57 years throughout Colorado and Wyoming. Together they raised four children, Kelly, Jim, Lora, and Shon, and were blessed with seven grandchildren.


Gayle was passionate about her animals, camping, fishing, and family. She trained horses, rescued countless dogs, and built a small ranch in Upton, Wyoming, with Keith, where they have lived for the past 48 years. In later years, they shared the joy of their registered Boer goats and enjoyed the many friends they made in the livestock community.


Throughout her life, she passed on to her children and grandchildren her love for rodeo, spent hours practicing with them, and traveled wherever the trail took them to cheer them on. This gift went beyond her family; as a 4-H leader, she mentored the young up-and-coming cowboys and cowgirls.


Gayle was welcomed with open arms into heaven by her sons, Shon and Kelly; her brother, Bill, her parents; and many loving family members that went before her.


Her family said, “As a family, we will forever cherish our memories together and remember the loving wife, sister, mother, and grandmother she was and the life lessons she bestowed upon us. 


We will celebrate her life daily and embrace the advice she would share with all mourning her, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ Gayle’s legacy lives on in the hearts and lives of her children and grandchildren.”

The family will plan a celebration of life for a future date.


Online condolences may be written at


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