Granby " Shirley Ann Warden’s (Wetzel) life bloomed with passions
April 2, 2009
With an unflagging determination, Shirley Ann Warden (Wetzel) bloomed amongst many challenges that faced her through life. On March 20 at the age of 84, the longtime Granby resident known for her inspirational flower gardens left behind a better and more beautiful Grand County community.
Her life began Aug. 14, 1924, when she joined the family of Jennie Ann (Johnson) and Elmer George Wetzel in Manilla, Iowa. Life was not easy for the family (which eventually included eight children, with Shirley in the middle). After a move to western Kansas they ran a farm on what was then wild grassland. Country life for the Wardens consisted of milking cows, herding cattle, tending to the horses, chickens and wheat fields, and attending a one-room school house.
The family was hit hard through those years with the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. And, in 1937, Elmer died after a long illness. Left to fend for themselves, the family lost the farm to foreclosure. They also lost Shirley’s oldest brother, the first local boy to be killed in World War II.
Shirley boarded with a family in town to attend the higher grades, graduating in 1941 and going on to earn an associate’s degree at Dodge City Junior College. She taught fourth grade in Ingalls, Kan., for two years before moving to Denver, where she worked for the Gates Rubber Company and a telephone company.
She met her future husband in the big city. Chaperones of a young adults group at Calvary Baptist Church introduced her to Robert Warden, their son. The two married May 25, 1948, and moved to Boulder so he could finish pharmacy school at the University of Colorado.
In 1952, the two joined the Granby community, where they’d stay until 2004. During those years the couple enjoyed a happy marriage and celebrated the birth of a son (Steven Robert) and a daughter (Dana Diane). Shirley, a homemaker while the children were in school, thoroughly enjoyed her job as a court clerk for the District Court in Hot Sulphur Springs after the children went off to college. When she left the position, she joined Bob at the drug store, keeping the books.
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The couple were avid members and supporters of the Church of the Eternal Hills. Shirley often taught Sunday school and was also active in the women’s circle. They attended services in the old log church and were instrumental in helping raise money for a new church in Granby. They also raised funds to build the church in Tabernash. The family enjoyed skiing together on Sunday afternoons and with little time to change before church service sometimes wore their ski clothes.
She liked to golf and play bridge, but gardening and reading topped her hobbies. She grew as many different flowers as one could at Granby’s elevation. Favorites were sweet peas, lupine, peonies and tulips.
She loved all kinds of books and was involved with starting the first library in Grand County. She also served on the library board. Always trying new authors, daughter Dana Andrews recalls a story from her brother about a neighbor’s daughter who married author Nelson DeMille. The news prompted Shirley to stay up all night reading his newest work.
Shirley lived in Denver her last four years, “but Granby was always her home,” Dana said. During that time she would visit the Denver Public Library often and joined a large-print book club.