Friends and family call Evergreen old-timer Louise Stransky Hendryx one of a kind, a strong woman, a lover of animals.
And at 100 years old, Louise is still going strong. Hundreds of well-wishers turned out for her birthday party Sunday at the Church of the Transfiguration.
They sang “Happy Birthday” as she stood before a huge cake, and she blew out the three candles showing the number of years she has lived. She sat in a rocking chair, greeting an endless stream of well-wishers who learned more about her life by looking at a photo album and watching a DVD.
“She is an amazing woman, who cooks the best homemade mac and cheese you have ever tasted,” according to her granddaughter Michelle Hendryx. “She avidly knits, spoils her five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, roots for the Broncos, takes piano lessons and has taught me so many valuable lessons. She is an amazing woman, with a heart of gold and a mind that is unbelievable, still to this day.”
Louise said she’s been contemplating turning 103. She saw a 103-year-old woman dancing on television, and Louise thinks that would be pretty cool.
Louise cares for two Siamese cats, Zoro and Echo; she calls them her nurses because they boost her spirits if she’s not feeling well.
Attendees at the party ranged in age from toddler to elder, all with stories to tell about how Louise has impacted their lives.
Friends Eileen Crane, Lisa Vance and Julie Ayers said they grew up feeling like they were part of Louise’s extended family. Louise sponsored Crane to be the Evergreen Rodeo queen in 1976.
“We just know her as ‘Gammy,’ ” Crane said.
Crane said she admires Louise because of her ability to roll with the punches.
“She’s easy-going with a great sense of humor,” Crane said.
Jo Ann Rice said she’s known Louise for 60 years, mentioning that her father had dated Louise many years ago.
“She’s always been a strong lady,” Rice said.
Linda Rice of Conifer has known Louise all of her life, and said what Louise has going for her is her incredible memory.
Kate Porter, co-owner of Olde’s Garage in Evergreen and an Evergreen native, said there aren’t too many of the old-time natives left.
“I’ve known (Louise) almost 60 years,” Porter said. “She’s one of a kind. She’s part of old Evergreen. She’s part of a hardy breed.”
Louise Hendryx was born in Englewood on March 7, 1912, and her parents moved to Evergreen in 1917. They camped out near Maxwell Falls, decided to rent a ranch close by and took over what is now known as the Stransky ranch in 1918.
After going to kindergarten in Denver, she attended Evergreen’s one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade. She went to South High School in Denver and graduated from the University of Denver in 1934.
Hendryx taught physical education, science and English at Wheat Ridge High School right after college. In 1934, she eloped with John Hendryx on Christmas Day in Denver and moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, where John worked.
They returned to Evergreen in 1936 where John ran the Texaco gas station, and they lived near Bear Creek. Their daughter Adajane was born in 1938, and son John was born in 1940.
Louise worked for 29 years in Aurora Public Schools as a second-grade teacher, a physical education teacher and a guidance counselor.
Her husband died in 1947, and she never remarried. After she retired in 1965, she returned to Evergreen. She’s been active in various Evergreen activities, including the Evergreen Rodeo.