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Older men – from Colorado pioneers to current politicians – often are awarded accolades and some have streets named after them; but, when was the last time you saw or read about the accomplishments of ladies-of-a-certain-age or drove down a road honoring one of these women?

I got to thinking about this when I read one my favorite blogs written by Tammi Hartung of Desert Canyon Farm, which is near Canyon City, Colorado. Normally, she writes about plants, birds, bees and pastoral settings. In her September 17, 2015 blog entitled, “Who Are Your Heroes and Heroines,” she lists 10 people she admires most. All of them have made the earth a better place. She asks the question, “Who are the people who you really respect for all sorts of reasons…all important?”

Since this is a blog about and for ladies-of-a-certain-age, those “Invisible, powerful vital women,” I decided to list many of the women I admire most. Some you will know and some you won’t. Where possible, I have pictured them and added a hyperlink in case you want to know more about them. I do hope you will share in our comment section the women in your life you admire.





Dana Crawford

A woman of my own heart, I so wish I had had an opportunity to work with her over the past 50-plus years. She is known for the development of Larimer Square, the skidrow of Denver, which I can attest to, having had to park there when I attended CU Denver in the mid-1960s. I love her directness and guts. In a recent interview on KCFR’s “Colorado Matters,” she stated all the new buildings going up in Denver are made out of plywood and would not last very long: a sentiment shared by many, but not publically stated.







AlRuth (AL RUTH) Toney, 85

A leader in the City Park Women’s Golf Association since 1953, when few women – and certainly not African-American women, were on the golf course. She has influenced and encouraged hundreds of women to play. She regularly beats me on the golf course, and while she does so, teaches me valuable lessons about life.

Elenor roosevelt






Eleanor Roosevelt

My mother snickered at her appearance. I think her spirit is incredibly beautiful and courageous. Harry Truman called her “The First Lady of the World.”

lois wilson






Lois Wilson

She co-founded Al-Anon with Anne Smith in 1951. Today there are over 25,400 Al-Anon groups in 130 countries.


Carole June Harshman November 19, 1929 to November 19, 1994

She played golf, and softball, ran marathons, wrote for numerous national and local publications, adored her grandchildren and children alike, cooked extraordinarily, stood by her husband, the president of the local Bar, and was my soul sister, who died way to early from lung cancer. She quit smoking long before I knew her.  I met her in 1980 at the office of the Chipeta Girl Scout Council in Grand Junction, Colorado when I went to sign up my daughters for the scout program. There was an immediate connect. She knew I loved old houses and when the Colony Shale Oil Project, where I worked, came to a dramatic close, Black Sunday, May 2, 1982, she called me and said “Now you have time to write that book about the old houses on 7th Street we’ve been talking.” It was published in June, in time for the Grand Junction Centennial, and sold out later that year. This is a good example for how Carole supported me and all her friends in good times and bad.  I wish I had a picture of her instead of a picture of this book. If I could dedicate this blog, I would dedicate it to her.

Harriet Isabelle Cunningham Elrod and Catherine Lane Lynch

My paternal great-great grandmothers – both early pioneers, arriving long before Colorado was a state – worked beyond today’s retirement age   Catherine is buried at Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.   Harriett is buried in Aspen next to her husband and grandson, Earl Wheeler, my grandfather





Jane Powell

What do you do after you divorce your husband? Why, buy and restore 11 California bungalows! That experience allows you to write numerous books, such as my favorites – “Bungalow Kitchens” and “Linoleum” – magazine articles in national magazines, and become a national speaker. I loved her saltiness and mourned her loss to lung cancer.






Marion Downs

It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Marion Downs, then in her 80s, at the University of Colorado Hospital. We worked on a fundraiser together – a bike ride if I remember correctly – which, of course, she participated in by riding her bicycle.   I knew I was in the presence of greatness.










Rosemary Gladstar

Author, lecturer, writer, teacher, internationally known herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar’s wisdom has always touched me. I make and use many of her recipes in her book “Herbal Recipes – Vibrant Health.” This book has a wonderful section on “Elder Health.”







Signe Hartmann

Signe is an elementary school teacher by day and an Iyengar Yoga instructor at night and on Sunday afternoons. She started and teaches the free Sunday Community Class at the Iyengar Center of Denver and collects and distributes voluntary donations from her students for numerous charities.