Honoring The Women Of Wheat Ridge

Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker
Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker

As we celebrate Women in History during the month of March, as well as International Women’s Day on March 8, I wanted to write this month about some of the amazing women who contributed their time and talent to make Wheat Ridge the special place it is today, and some who today are leading to create a bright future for our city. 

In the early days before we were incorporated as a city, women generally tended the children, cooked the meals, cleaned the house and kept clothes clean and mended while men worked in the mines, plowed the fields, and fought the wars. It was the women who literally kept the home fires burning.

Some women with forethought of preserving our agrarian heritage left a legacy for Wheat Ridge, like Louise Turner who established a Land Conservancy to protect the land of 5 Fridges Farm, providing a unique collaboration and learning environment for sustainable farming in perpetuity.

The rich history of Wheat Ridge has also been preserved by a group of stalwart volunteers led for many years by Claudia Worth, who made significant contributions to the governance of the city since its incorporation in 1969.

Since that time many smart, capable women have served in roles in leadership as elected officials, from Louise Turner as the first city clerk, to the first woman treasurer Mary Jo Cavarra, to the first woman mayor Gretchen Cerveny, and to members of city council. That tradition continues today with the current service of Mayor Pro Tem/Council member Rachel Hultin, and members Leah Dozeman, Janeece Hoppe, Judy Hutchinson and Val Nosler Beck. 

We also see women in leadership positions throughout our community: Joy Opp, Board Chair for Localworks and Co-Chair of Sustainable Wheat Ridge with Amy DePierre; Morgan Richards, founder of Wheat Ridge for Equity; Maki DeLaet, President of the Wheat Ridge Business Association; Cambria Rollo, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission; Betty Jo Page, Chair of the Board of Adjustment; Janice Thompson, Chair of the Housing Authority; current Chair of the Cultural Commission Megan Deffner; and, for many years, Diane Robb who chaired our Cultural Commission.

We also benefit from the contributions of women employed in our city government, with women in decision-making positions as directors and managers, as well as the women officers, detectives and professional staff serving in the Wheat Ridge Police Department.

Women have always played a huge role in my own life. Both of my grandmothers provided great examples of courage and nurturing love, raising strong families during the Depression and the second world war. My mother was a registered nurse, working outside the home when her children were very young and then transitioning into a wonderful full-time mom. My sister inspires me as a modern mother and active contributor to her community. And my wife, Mary, provides me love and support at every turn. 

Over the course of history women have made countless contributions to our world in the arts, science, sports, government, business, and they continue to lead in creating a world that is kinder and more sustainable and inclusive.

What women have inspired you? Take a moment to recognize and celebrate them this month – and every month.

Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at bstarker@ci.wheatridge.co.us or 303-235-2800.

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