The Arvadans who knew Lois Cunniff Lindstrom Kennedy know how she changed the city. Those who work at the Arvada Center know Lindstrom as a community leader who advocated for the bond issue that …
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The Arvadans who knew Lois Cunniff Lindstrom Kennedy know how she changed the city.
Those who work at the Arvada Center know Lindstrom as a community leader who advocated for the bond issue that ultimately established the center.
Members of the Arvada Historical Society knew her as the group’s founder and detailed keeper of the city’s history.
Those who had her as an elementary school teacher know her for the plays she wrote, which included a speaking part for every child in the class to encourage a love for the arts.
And most of the time, for those who knew Lindstrom, the strongest memories and most poignant stories don’t only revolve around how she changed the city; they center on the ways she changed the lives of individuals.
“When I think of those years growing up,” said daughter Linnea Soderstrom, “I think of how she had an old typewriter and the constant, constant clacking of the keys, and the meetings and the PTA and the flurry of activity, all the time. If not for her, I wouldn’t have been a part of so many things.”
Lois Cunniff Lindstrom Kennedy, 1922 - 2019, moved to Arvada in 1960 with her husband, Wallace “Lindy” Lindstrom, and Linnea. After the passing of her first husband in 1984, she married Patrick Kennedy in 1997.
A lover of history, Lindstrom didn’t need much time to realize that her fellow Arvadans hadn’t uncovered much of the city’s history; the realization set off decades of research, the formation of the Arvada Historical Society and the writing of several historical books and plays authored by Lindstrom. She received a number of awards and was named the Arvada Woman of the Year in 1972.
Those who knew her say she was “the force” behind numerous changes, said Vesta Miller, former Arvada mayor who once lived on the same street as Lindstrom did. Miller especially remembers Lindstrom’s forcefulness in establishing the Arvada Center and the historical museum within.
“It’s been nothing but a huge success, and it never would have happened if Lois hadn’t been the force,” she said. Without her, she said, “the whole city would have been totally different. When Lois believed in something, she pushed for it, and the impact was on all age-groups in the city.”
Adam Stolte, production manager at the Arvada Center, likewise credits Lindstrom with the center’s creation and success. His first experience with the center was when his class went there on a field trip, under the supervision of Lindstrom, who was his first-grade teacher at Secrest Elementary School.
“We were some of the first classes that would walk up to the Arvada Center, and she would educate us about Arvada history. I remember her kindness, her penmanship and that she supported all of us as if we were her own kids,” he said. “I work in theater now, and the first play I was ever in was in Lois’s class. I still have the script.”
During her decades-long career as a teacher in Jefferson County, Lindstrom and a fellow teacher earned their master’s degrees together, with the two traveling up to the University of Colorado in the summers.
“Ever since she was a little girl, teaching was what she wanted to do. She put herself through school because she wanted it that badly,” Soderstrom said. “She was a role model for hard work and doing the right thing.”
Lindstrom is also known for advocating for recognition of the first documented instance that gold was found in Colorado, by Lewis Ralston in Arvada, 1850; for playing an integral role in the designation of Arvada’s Gold Strike Park; and working to have the Arvada Flour Mill added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Soderstrom remembers her childhood visits to that mill where, alongside her parents and Arvada Historical Society members, she would help with the efforts to restore the 1925 mill and transform it into a museum, which opened in 1980.
“She didn’t stop until she got what she thought was right. It was about knowing where you came from and the history of where you are,” Soderstrom said. “I have a love of history as well, and I know where that comes from.”
Most recently, Lindstrom brainstormed and advocated for the rail line through Olde Town to be named the Gold Line, or G Line — a suggestion that RTD planners accepted.
The people who knew Lindstrom have different stories to tell and accomplishments to highlight, but all of them are sure to mention the same aspects of her character which, just as her contributions, made her famous among Arvadans.
“One of the reasons why Arvada is a quaint town in the middle of the metro area is because of people like Lois, who felt history and art and expression are important,” Stolte said. “Her thirst for history helped form Arvada. She was a walking history book for her 97 years.”
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