Eyewitness to history | PostIndependent.com

Eyewitness to history

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

On May 26, 2003, Gretchen Darrow Cross, the oldest resident of the state of Vermont, died at the age of 110. Notably, her long life began in Glenwood Springs.

Gretchen Darrow was born Sept. 23, 1892, the fourth of 14 children. Her father was Charles Darrow, a prominent lawyer who, in addition to his respected private practice, served as attorney for Garfield County and Glenwood Springs. Her mother was Elizabeth Morpher Darrow.

Beginning in the 1890s, the family lived at 1032 Pitkin Ave. Gretchen and her sisters were educated behind the family home in a carriage house turned school. She learned the classics, languages, and the Bible at the home school while her brothers and youngest sister attended public school.

Studies and household responsibilities consumed much of Gretchen Darrow’s time. She also collected admission at the Fairy Caves, and in free time swam the Hot Springs Pool.

In June 1916, Gretchen Darrow married the boy next door, Bertram Cross. Cross, son of renowned taxidermist William Cross, possessed a scientist’s mind. A graduate of Colorado College who attended the Colorado School of Mines, Bert was a chemistry instructor at Garfield County High School.

His later engineering profession took Gretchen and their son to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York. At the time of his death in 1964, Bert was considered an authority in combustion engineering.

Gretchen Darrow Cross was born before the Hotel Colorado was completed, before her father discovered the Fairy Caves, and before Strawberry Day was conceived as a community event. She saw our community change on a grand scale. She lived an extraordinary life.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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