Paula Mechau passed away at Community Hospital in Grand Junction Nov. 17, 2005, where she had been admitted for a broken hip.
She was born to Nathan and Frieda Ralska on January 31, 1907.
She met her husband-to-be, Frank Mechau, in a Manhattan bookstore; both were avid readers. They married in New York.
They sold their book collection to cover a one-way ticket to Europe where Frank studied and painted. Shortly after their daughter Vanni was born, they returned to Colorado in the height of the depression. During the next several years they had three more children and lived mainly in Colorado Springs.
After her husband’s untimely death in 1946, she devoted herself to her children. She taught them folk singing. They gave concerts and made recordings and thus helped support the family.
Paula was a fierce opponent of racial prejudice, and in 1948 helped to provide a hospitable welcome for the great African-American bass, Paul Robeson, when he came to Colorado Springs.
Paula was a teacher of folk music in the Grand Junction public schools and secretary to John Holden, the founder of Colorado Rocky Mountain School. There she taught weaving, served as librarian, and inspired students and faculty for 30 years.
She was an outspoken environmentalist, a founding member of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association. She helped defeat plans for a dam on the Crystal and an ill-conceived ski area and development in Marble. Her love of nature, the Crystal River valley in particular, and her love of literature, her children, and friends, sustained her.
In later life she rallied on numerous occasions from illness and injury. For the past several years, she lived in assisted living centers in the Palisade area.
Paula is survived by her children, Vanni Lowdenslager of Gunnison, Dorik Mechau of Sitka, Alaska, and Duna Stephens and Mike Mechau, both of Palisade; grandchildren Kris (Annette) Stephens of Albuquerque, N.M., Karl (Bea) Stephens of Fruita, Jim Stephens of Palisade, Sandra (James) Daws of Clifton, Erin (Joel) Marner of Palisade, Clarissa (John) Whitehead of Soldatna, Alaska, Mark (Fionnuala) Mechau of Palisade, Mally Strong of Carbondale, Elizabeth (Daniel) Gartner of Grand Junction, and Christopher Sanford of Forest Grove, Ore.; great-grandchildren Derek and Blakely Stephens, Leandro, Melina, and Luis Velasco, Homer and Jemima Strong, Zondra and Dylan Masden, Roman and Felix Mechau, Ian and Sean Sanford, and Logan Youngblood; nieces Judith Shongut of Ariz. and Nancy Kozeradsky; nephew George Miller of New Jersey; great-great-grandchildren Roman Jr. and Jonathan Mechau, and Devon Mechau, all of California.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Frank Mechau, a noted Colorado artist to whose career she was deeply devoted.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in the Callahan-Edfast Mortuary Chapel in Grand Junction.
A later memorial will be held at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale on Sunday, June 18, 2006 in the morning, at a time to be announced.
Donations in honor of Paula Mechau may be sent to the Colorado Rocky Mtn. School, Carbondale, Colorado 81623 for a student scholarship fund.
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Independence Pass opened just before 2 p.m. Friday after closing earlier this week because of a series of snowstorms, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Friday.