Celebrating 100: Birthday party for Betty Cranmer

Betty Cranmer will celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday at Granby's Polhamus Park.
Courtesy Holbrook Mahn

When Betty Cranmer was growing up, she dreamed of being a nanny because she loved children, later saying she wanted a dozen of her own.

Ultimately, on top of her six biological children, Cranmer would become family to three generations of Grand County students and many more community members through her service to the local schools and churches.

On Sunday, Cranmer’s family, friends and former neighbors are inviting everyone to celebrate her 100th birthday at 4 p.m. in Granby at Polhamus Park. The event will include an open mic for people to share their experiences and birthday wishes. Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status.

“It will be a great occasion especially with my family and friends there,” Cranmer said of the upcoming celebration.

For Betty Cranmer’s 99th birthday, friends and families drove by in a community parade in Granby during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtesy Kris Kuhnel

Cranmer moved to Renew Senior Care in Glenwood Springs earlier this year after spending more than 50 years in Grand County, which will always hold a special place in her life.

An assistant kindergarten teacher at Granby Elementary School for several years, Cranmer volunteered at the school helping children learn how to read until she was 97 years old. For her dedication to education, Cranmer received the prestigious Colorado Association of School Executives award in 2007.

Cranmer also spent her time with several bible study groups across Grand and volunteering at the Cold Springs Nursery in Granby.

“My favorite was teaching in the kindergarten with the children,” Cranmer said, later calling it her biggest accomplishment in life.

In 2016, Betty Cranmer was the Grand Marshall for the Veterans’ Day parade in Grand Lake.
Sky-Hi News file photo

Cranmer came to Grand County in 1969 with her second husband Chappell Cranmer, who died in 2000. Chappell was the longtime priest at Cranmer Chapel and served at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Granby and Trinity Church in Kremmling.

Prior to her life in Grand County, Cranmer worked as a nurse in World War II for the U.K.’s Royal Women’s Airforce at a hospital specializing in burns and plastic surgery in East Grinstead, Sussex. During her time at the hospital, Cranmer met and married her first husband, Henry Mahn, who was a patient for gangrene that required both of his legs to be amputated.

Mahn and Cranmer had two children together — Susan and Holbrook — before Mahn died from health complications in 1946. Following Mahn’s death, Cranmer, who was pregnant with Holbrook at the time, moved to Denver that year.

In Denver, Cranmer met Chappell in 1947 and the couple tied the knot in 1948. They had four children — Allen, Bruce, Jeanie and Forrest — before moving up to Grand County.

Though Cranmer was no stranger to overcoming adversity having grown up in England during World War II, she faced many challenges later in life as well. In 1988, her son Forrest died during a seizure.

When she was 73 years old, Cranmer was diagnosed with a rare cancer, which required her to undergo nine chemotherapy treatments, including one that lasted 96 hours. Her doctor said she might have three weeks to live.

Despite the prognosis, Cranmer survived the cancer and the treatments, only to find out she had colon cancer. One surgery later and that was taken care of too.

Looking back, Cranmer is thankful for her strength, which she says comes from her family, friends, faith, diet and exercise.

“I’m no one special, I’m just older than most people,” she said humbly.

Cranmer has also written a memoir in partnership with Cynthia Wigdahl called “Journey to Joy,” which is available on Amazon at

Betty Cranmer of Granby poses for a portrait shortly before her 90th birthday in 2011.
Sky-Hi News file photo

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