March was a busy month for longtime Wheat Ridge resident Edna Wagner. On March 19, she celebrated her 100th birthday at a family party in Arvada (there was even a red carpet for her to walk in on her …
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March was a busy month for longtime Wheat Ridge resident Edna Wagner.
On March 19, she celebrated her 100th birthday at a family party in Arvada (there was even a red carpet for her to walk in on her daughter said). Then, just a few days later, Wagner took a trip up to one of her favorite places, Blackhawk, to spend the day at the Monarch Casino.
“They say they would like to buy me a drink and up popped my granddaughter who said `give her a beer,'” said Edna. “And I said `no, I don't think so.' I didn't want to start dancing around.”
But while Wagner didn't feel like getting (too) wild on that particular day, the moment was nonetheless a testament to the enduring nature of the sense of humor and love of life that have carried Edna into her 101st year.
“I think I was the one that got all the genes in my family,” she said. “All of them died and I'm still here.”
Edna's story began in Victoria, Kansas, where she helped raise her seven younger siblings.
That was also where she married her high school sweetheart, Paul, and started her family before moving to Wheat Ridge in 1962. They came to Colorado, a place she had long loved, after one of her sons developed asthma that could be better treated here.
“When I was 16-years-old, my parents brought us out here on vacation and when we drove around, I was just looking at everything and I said `I am going to live there someday,'” Edna said. “And I did.”
The couple raised their kids on West 38th Avenue before moving to Edna's current home on Teller Street, where she continues to live with her oldest daughter, Sharon.
“My mom never has steered me wrong in everything,” said Sharon. “When I grew up, she saw it to it that I got to church and made my first communion.”
Following Paul's death in 1982, she enjoyed many trips to such places as Branson and Las Vegas (her favorite destination) with her siblings and their spouses.
“I had too much fun,” said Edna of why she never remarried. “My brother was always looking for a guy for a me and he would say `there's one on the corner.' And I would say `yeah, but I don't want anybody.'”
But while Edna has always looked to embrace the joyful side of life, she has also faced her share of challenges, too. World War II broke out just as her and Paul were readying to marry and she would spend most of the next two years not knowing where he was at as he served overseas.
In those days, the family also sometimes didn't have enough to eat.
“Paul wrote a letter to his dad and said `we are so hungry for meat' and so he sent us a big thing of pork and wrapped it up really good but still some mice had gotten in and eaten around the corners,” said Edna. “But we were so hungry for the meat we just cut everything off and ate it.”
She also isn't too worried about COVID-19, given the number of illnesses she's both seen and experienced in her life.
“I had the measles, the mumps, the chicken pox and then all of a sudden diptheria came to town so we had to go out of school for a few weeks,” she said. “The first time I was ever struck by a needle was when polio came. But our parents took care of us.”
In addition to bingo games and trips to the casino, Edna continues to enjoy cooking.
“Every time we come over she's got to cook us lunch,” said her granddaughter, Amy Leifheit, who visits Edna about once a week.
However, it is her faith and family that she said ultimately matter most and keep her going.
“They're all so good to me,” Edna said of her family.
“Because you're good to us,” replied Leifheit.
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