On February 17th, 1921 two little girls were born in the state of Colorado. 100 years later they would be joined together to celebrate a monumental 100th birthday celebration with the staff and residents of Grace Pointe in Greeley, CO. Although 100 years is a long time it is amazing the parallels their lives have.
Mildred and Evelyn were both born in rural areas of Colorado. Mildred in the area now called Pawnee Buttes where her family still farms the land they have owned since 1918. The home she was born in remains on the land and is used for farming. Evelyn’s family lived in a “soddy” near Holyoke when she was born. She tells a story of her mom traveling to Denver to deliver her. She did not have a doctor so she picked one out of the newspaper.
They share many similarities and differences. They both attended higher education. Mildred earned her elementary school teaching certificate from Colorado State College. Mildred began to teach in Briggsdale, CO and continued to work on the family farm. Evelyn graduated valedictorian of her high school and continued her education at Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University. Evelyn graduated with a degree in “Home Economics” and taught in Haxton, Colorado. She would later return to school to obtain a master’s degree in food science and nutrition.
They both have observed many events in the United States history. They include the outcomes of the pandemic of 1918 when 50 million people died worldwide. The New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929 followed by the depression that left our county and the world in economic shock. Both ladies were from farm families that were dependent on buyers who no longer had the finances to purchase or the banking loan system that had folded. Food was scarce. Unemployment was 25%. As the economy started to turn around, the next disaster hit. Most have only read about the Dust Bowl in school, but they lived it. There was not water for crops, the family garden, or the livestock. Most families had to work hard to preserve what little they had.
They both worked hard and raised wonderful families. Mildred married Elmer Diehl on June 6, 1946. In 2011 they celebrated 65 years of marriage. They have 3 children, 9 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild. Evelyn’s first husband tragically lost his life in a plane crash, but she later met and married Les Ward. They have 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 8 great-great-grandchildren.
These two ladies can tell of stories we cannot even relate to, but they persevered and continued to make an impact in the lives of others. Both women enjoyed giving back to their communities. Mildred and her husband were 4-H leaders for over 25 years. They were recognized in the photo display “The hands that build Weld County” at the Exhibition building in Island Grove. Evelyn was active after retirement in making 100’s of quilts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, tornados in Mississippi, new owners of Habitat for Humanity homes, Hand/warm hearts and Kidzquilts. She was recognized for 5400 volunteer hours with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
They have experienced ups and downs in 100 years. Births, deaths, economic crisis, medical progress, creation of technology, wars, a man on the moon, 18 presidents and so many more things. They have been able to come our on the other side, showing resilience, strength and the ability to count their blessings.