Mechau’s legacy was her undying dedication
Paula Mechau, widow of famed Colorado artist Frank Mechau and a champion of environmental causes in the Crystal River Valley, died last week in Grand Junction at the age of 98.
“Paula had so many remarkable qualities,” said longtime friend Pat Fender, of Emma. “To me, the thing she represented most was how much difference one person could make. Nothing slowed her down.
“She had a sharp mind and high ideals, and she was always willing to fight for them,” Fender said.
Paula was married to Frank Mechau, perhaps best known locally for his large painting depicting a wild horse round-up that hung in the Carbondale Post Office for several years. The original was replaced by a reproduction a few years ago when the original was moved to Denver.
The Mechaus had four children before Frank died at a young age in 1946 after they had settled in Redstone. Paula dedicated the next several years to raising her family, and even made a living promoting herself and her children as a traveling singing troupe for a time.
After the children were grown, Mechau became a founding member of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association, which formed in the 1970s to fight plans to dam the Crystal River at Placita. Successful in that effort, the CVEPA has remained active in a variety of local environmental issues.
“She was an incredible woman,” said fellow CVEPA member Peter Westcott. “One of best memories I have of her was when she was in her late 80s. We were having a joint meeting with some people from Crested Butte up at Crystal City. We were in the Jeep bouncing around, and she comments, ‘I feel like I’m belly dancing.’
“I just admired her so much,” he said.
Another longtime friend, Ditty Perry, remembered hikes in the mountains and playing scrabble with Paula.
“We’ve done a lot of things together. I will really miss her,” she said. “She was such a remarkable woman, raising four children with little money. But they all went through college and have done very well.”
Ditty’s husband, Bob Perry, recalled being at her birthday party recently.
“It was so wonderful to see her rise to the occasion. She was the old Paula, singing and telling stories,” he said. “She and I used to argue politics, right and left. She was really a remarkable woman.”
One of the Perry’s daughters, Roz Turnbull, has fond memories of visiting the Mechau home in Redstone.
“It was such a treat to arrive at her wonderful old house above Redstone, to be greeted warmly in the cozy kitchen where the tea kettle always sang, and yummy zucchini or apple bread was baking in her woodstove,” Turnbull said. “She had such an intense love of family, friends, music, art … and the outdoors.”
The memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Callahan-Edfast Mortuary Chapel in Grand Junction. A later memorial will take place at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, where Paula worked for many years, on June 18, 2006, at a time to be announced.
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