Sunset Meadows’ honor superheroes in their 90s |

Sunset Meadows’ honor superheroes in their 90s

Annual birthday celebration makes Craig's oldest seniors smile

Noelle Leavitt Riley
Sunset Meadows celebrated seven people in their 90s on Wednesday at its annual Nifty 90s celebration. This years theme was super heros. See the full story on page 11.
Noelle Leavitt Riley

Each year, Sunset Meadows honors residents who are in their 90s with its Nifty 90s birthday party. The goal is to bring family and friends together, showing the seniors that they’re loved and celebrated.

The celebration is not only to make them feel special; it also helps recognize an amazing milestone in life — making it into their 90s.

Some may not appreciate that as much as others. You always hear people say they don’t want to live that long. But on the flip side, many in society crave a long, happy life on our colorful and wonderfully complicated earth.

Regardless how people feel about growing old, it’s important to give kudos to those who have “roughed it out” for nine decades.

Many of the elders who are celebrated at annual Nifty 90s birthday celebration are from Craig, Hayden or other parts of Northwest Colorado, while others moved to Craig to be near loved ones in the later part of life.

A new theme is chosen each year for the birthday bash. Last year was a Hawaiian Luau.

This year, the theme is superheroes. Each Sunset Meadows resident who is in their 90s dressed up in super hero outfits and had their pictures taken.

Here’s a snippet into the lives of those who will be honored.

Mary PreeceMary Preece

Mary Preece

Birthday: Dec. 11, 1921Birthday: Dec. 11, 1921

Birthday: Dec. 11, 1921

Age: 94Age: 94

Age: 94

Birthplace: Northwest of HaydenBirthplace: Northwest of Hayden

Birthplace: Northwest of Hayden

Number of children: ThreeNumber of children: Three

Number of children: Three

Number of grandchildren: FiveNumber of grandchildren: Five

Number of grandchildren: Five

Number of great-grandchildren: 12Number of great-grandchildren: 12

Number of great-grandchildren: 12

Number of great-great-grandchildren: 2Number of great-great-grandchildren: 2

Number of great-great-grandchildren: 2

Mary is proud to be a Northwest Colorado native.

“I was born here, and I like the mountains,” she said. “In the wintertime, we had a lot of snow, and my dad would hook up the sleigh.”

Mary had two brothers and one sister.

After Mary married her husband, John, she lived in a sheep wagon and sometimes even in a tent during the summer months.

“My husband had a sheep business, and we stayed up there with the sheep,” she said. “In the winter, I stayed at the house in Vernal.”

The couple owned nearly 54,000 acres of land in Northwest Colorado and in Utah.

Her husband died in 1975, and Mary remained in Craig.

She used to love to golf, bowl and ski — both alpine and water-skiing. She also loved to garden.

“I even had a greenhouse in the back of the house,” she said.

She also loved to ski Steamboat regularly.

“I skied Steamboat every week,” she said.

Like many Colorado residents, Mary loves the Denver Broncos, and if you need to find her on a Sunday afternoon, she’ll probably be in front of her TV cheering the Broncos to victory.

Dorothy MurrayDorothy Murray

Dorothy Murray

Birthday: Sept. 17, 1920Birthday: Sept. 17, 1920

Birthday: Sept. 17, 1920

Age: 95Age: 95

Age: 95

Birthplace: Goodson, MissouriBirthplace: Goodson, Missouri

Birthplace: Goodson, Missouri

Number of children: OneNumber of children: One

Number of children: One

Number of grandchildren: TwoNumber of grandchildren: Two

Number of grandchildren: Two

Number of great grandchildren: FourNumber of great grandchildren: Four

Number of great grandchildren: Four

Dorothy Murray moved to Craig when she was very young.

“I was about 2 years old when I came out here,” she said.

Dorothy has four sisters and one brother who served in World War II. She and her family grew up north of Fowler in Colorado on a dairy cow farm.

She lived in Albany Springs and went to Bluff Springs country school for five years as a child.

She married Van in 1950. He passed away in 1962.

Her son-in-law is Jerry DeLong, who works for Craig Police Department. Jerry is married to Dorothy’s daughter Phyllis DeLong.

Dorothy is proud of her entire family.

In her spare time, she love to read books.

“I read books, and I do crossword puzzles,” she said.

Ruth WhiteRuth White

Ruth White

Birthday: April 22, 1925Birthday: April 22, 1925

Birthday: April 22, 1925

Age: 91Age: 91

Age: 91

Birthplace: CraigBirthplace: Craig

Birthplace: Craig

Ruth White is a tough old bird. In her younger years, she wasn’t afraid to change a tire or check the oil in cars and trucks.

At one point, she was a mechanic for the military, working on B-29 airplanes. She also was a welder in Colorado Springs.

“That’s why I didn’t get married. I didn’t have time. I was having too much fun,” she said.

She lived a rugged and free life, working for auto mechanics and selling auto parts at various shops throughout Craig.

Ruth was an auto clerk for 30 years, and she can change the tire on any old car or truck that comes her way.

She liked to drink, swim and play pool. As a matter of fact, you can catch Ruth playing a game of pool on any given day in the lounge of Sunset Meadows II.

Floating on the Yampa River taught her how to swim, something she always enjoyed in her younger years.

“You get in the moving part of that river, and you don’t have anyone around, you gotta learn how to swim,” she said.

She also enjoyed dancing on Saturday night and going to church on Sunday.

Ruth has two sisters, Opal and Pearl. She has one niece and two nephews who have blessed her with many grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Ray WagnerRay Wagner

Ray Wagner

Birthday: May 16, 1924Birthday: May 16, 1924

Birthday: May 16, 1924

Age: 92Age: 92

Age: 92

Birthplace: IowaBirthplace: Iowa

Birthplace: Iowa

Number of children: FiveNumber of children: Five

Number of children: Five

Number of grandchildren: 13Number of grandchildren: 13

Number of grandchildren: 13

Ray Wagner loves to dance, play horseshoes and pool.

When he was a boy, he rode with his siblings on one horse to school. His education took place in a small little shack.

According to his family, his first job was on a ranch.

Following in his family tradition, Ray enlisted in the Army infantry in 1941 during World War II.

He was 17, a year too early to be in the military, but his father fabricated his age and helped him get in.

Ray’s father fought as a lieutenant in the cavalry during World War I and his great-grandfather fought in the Civil War.

Ray served in Italy, Germany and Russia. He also went from Africa to Italy to Greenland for two years. He then brought dead soldiers home, delivering them to their families.

After the war, Ray eventually settled in Craig and established Wagner Construction.

The company is now owned by his son, Jay. He has five children, Chris, Jay, Clint, Wayne and Julie, and 12 grandchildren. He also has one brother and three sisters.

Ray likes everything about Craig, and he especially likes ranching.

Faye PaulsonFaye Paulson

Faye Paulson

Birthday: May 16, 1924Birthday: May 16, 1924

Birthday: May 16, 1924

Age: 94Age: 94

Age: 94

Birthplace: Dixon, WyomingBirthplace: Dixon, Wyoming

Birthplace: Dixon, Wyoming

Number of children: OneNumber of children: One

Number of children: One

Number of grandchildren: TwoNumber of grandchildren: Two

Number of grandchildren: Two

Number of great-grandchildren: FiveNumber of great-grandchildren: Five

Number of great-grandchildren: Five

When Faye Paulson was born, she weighed only 2 pounds and 1 ounce, and her parents used to put her in a shoebox, she said.

She was the firstborn of two sisters and four brothers, and they all grew up in Baggs, Wyoming.

Faye was one of six students who graduated from high school in Baggs in 1941. She then attended Central Business College in Denver.

Shortly after, in 1946, she met and married her husband Ralph and the couple exchanged vows in Steamboat Springs.

“He was in the service, and when he came back from the service, we started dating,” she said.

The couple ran Frontier Filling Station on Victory Way in Craig for 30 years until they sold it in 1987.

Faye has one daughter, Carol Preece, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

She loves to play Wii bowling and often scores 300.

“I love to bowl and I love to sew,” she said, adding that she also loves to play games on her iPad.

“I love my iPad. My iPad is my favorite,” Faye said.

She’s also a breast cancer survivor.

Ena Peed, 93Ena Peed, 93

Ena Peed, 93

Birthday: June 7, 1922Birthday: June 7, 1922

Birthday: June 7, 1922

Age: 94Age: 94

Age: 94

Birthplace: NebraskaBirthplace: Nebraska

Birthplace: Nebraska

Number of children: ThreeNumber of children: Three

Number of children: Three

Ena Peed was born in Nebraska and moved to Craig when she was 16 years old.

She worked at the movie theater and would often finish her shift at midnight, and that’s when the fun would begin.

She would go for sleigh rides, have chili and hot chocolate or go dancing at the White Horse.

Ena speaks highly about living in Craig, and she loves the people.

“I love the size of it,” she said of Craig.

In 1938, she was told that she wouldn’t live to be 17, so she quit school and started working. Little did the doctors know that she would live to be in her 90s.

She married Lyle Peed, and the happy couple had three kids. Jack and Kendall Peed are her two sons that are still living.

Lyle and Ena bought land up on Bakers Peak where they built a log cabin.

“We would get up there every weekend and there was a beautiful spring in the back,” she said.

Twanette AyresTwanette Ayres

Twanette Ayres

Birthday: July 10, 1919Birthday: July 10, 1919

Birthday: July 10, 1919

Age: 97Age: 97

Age: 97

Birthplace: Frankfort, IndianaBirthplace: Frankfort, Indiana

Birthplace: Frankfort, Indiana

Number of children: TwoNumber of children: Two

Number of children: Two

Number of grandchildren: FourNumber of grandchildren: Four

Number of grandchildren: Four

Number of great-grandchildren: SevenNumber of great-grandchildren: Seven

Number of great-grandchildren: Seven

Number of great-great-grandchildren: TwoNumber of great-great-grandchildren: Two

Number of great-great-grandchildren: Two

The oldest resident at Sunset is Twanette Ayres, who is 97 years young.

Her vibrant and enthusiastic personality can make just about anyone smile. She lives at Sunset Meadows I with her adorable Dachshund named Henry.

Twanette goes by Toni for short. She had two brothers and one sister, and they grew up on a farm in Frankfurt, Indiana.

She lost one brother at a very young age when he was a toddler, and she’s outlived her other brother and sister.

Toni married James Ayres, who served in the Navy, and she lived in Washington, D.C. when he was serving overseas during World War II. James passed away in 1995.

They were married for 54 years. Toni has one daughter, Kathy and a son, Jim, who lives in Craig with his wife Glenda. She has four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Toni worked at a seed lab at Purdue University for several years and she was also a cosmetologist. Additionally, she worked the farm with her husband and children, raising Hampshire hogs and growing corn and soybeans.

“She’s always been a sweet, wonderful mother-in-law, always,” said Glenda Ayres.

Toni loves to sing hymns and is proud of her Christianity.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.