Eleanor “Ellie” Richards said she really hadn’t given her 100th birthday much thought. But to her three daughters, Oct. 12 was a day that came with much anticipation. “This morning was …
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Eleanor “Ellie” Richards said she really hadn’t given her 100th birthday much thought.
But to her three daughters, Oct. 12 was a day that came with much anticipation.
“This morning was overwhelming,” said Sharon Baldwin, one of Richards’ four children. “We came in and sang `Happy Birthday’ and she opened her eyes and just smiled. It’s been a hard not to cry all day because here we are. She made it.”
Richards was born in Ness City, Kansas Oct. 12 1918. Her family moved to Colorado when she was six years old, one of 11 children. She attended Denver Public Schools until her health and the depression economy forced her to drop out and work to help the family.
She married Glenn Trotter Dec. 7, 1941 and worked at the Remington Arms Plant in Lakewood making bullets until just before her first child was born in 1942.
“She took pride in her war effort like many women during those year,” Baldwin said.
Richards and her husband raised four children — Marylou, Sharon, John and Cindi — in Jefferson County and owned and operated City Cleaners in downtown Arvada for several years.
Many years after leaving school, Richards attended Emily Griffith Opportunity School and graduated with a high school diploma at the age of 42. She then went on to get an associate degree in accounting from Red Rocks Community College in 1974 when she was 56 years old.
“It was a fabulous example to prove that you can do it all,” said Marylou Garscin, Richards’ oldest daughter. “You can raise kids, go to school, work and just do everything.”
Baldwin said her mom’s life of learning whether it be square dancing, Brazilian embroidery, painting or traditional academic, drove her children to keep learning too.
“As young adults her example to us was amazing,” Baldwin said. “She’s an inspiration.”
During those years, Richards’ first husband died and she was re-acquainted with a friend, Don Richards, who she married in 1965. He became the love of her life until he died in 2001.
She lived on her on until moving in with her daughter, Sharon, in Arvada in 2010 and then moving to Ralston Creek Neighborhood Assisted Living in November 2017.
At Ralston Creek, Richards tries to keep busy doing crafts, Wii bowling, attending the Rosary and communion and meeting new friends.
“Any activity we have on the schedule Ellie tries to make it to,” said Michelle Lucero, activity director at Ralston Creek Neighborhood. “She’s a great personality. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand with any new resident. She’s a real pleasure to be around.”
On her birthday, another resident made that statement that Richards was “easy to love,” which her daughter, Cindi Groen agreed with.
“She has always been easy to love,” Groen said of her mother. “She has never been demanding and always had open arms.”
For Groen, her mothers 100th birthday brings “pride and joy.”
“She has fought a lot to make it to 100,” Groen said. “It’s been overwhelming, heartwarming. We’re so blessed.”
When asked the advice she would give other after 100 years of life, Richards said simply, “Live life the best you can. That’s all I try to do.”
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