Melva Darlene Anderson
Melva Darlene Anderson
  • February 20, 1924 - May 10, 2017
  • Broomfield, Colorado

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February 20, 1924 - May 10, 2017

Melva Anderson died on May 10 at ManorCare of Boulder. She was 93 years old.
Melva was born on a farm near Colon, Nebraska, on February 20, 1924, the third child (and second daughter) of John Rutherford and Mabel Ruth (McConnell) Torrens. They had moved to eastern Nebraska from southwestern Illinois in the fall of 1916, hoping eventually to own their own farm. Their hopes were dashed, along with those of so many like them, by the Great Depression. In 1930 they moved, now a family of four, to Cedar Bluffs, where Ford and Ruth (as they were known) operated a produce store, cream station, and ice house, added three more children to the family, and somehow made ends meet until the beginning of World War II. In 1942, following Melva's graduation from Cedar Bluffs High School, the family moved 12 miles south to Wahoo. There Melva found employment as a clerk and bookkeeper in the J. C. Penney department store; she continued to work there until 1948, when she married an Army Air Force veteran who had gone to work in Penney's after the war, Wayne Anderson, of Ceresco. The couple moved to Omaha, where their first son, Fred, was born in 1949 while Wayne worked in Penney's shoe department. They returned to Wahoo when he took a job at the Nebraska Ordnance Plant, which was reactivated in 1950 to produce munitions for the Korean War.

The couple's second son, Donald, was born in Wahoo in 1954. With the exception of a few months in Spokane, Washington, in 1956, when Wayne briefly as a safety engineer worked for Kaiser Aluminum, the couple lived in Wahoo until the summer of 1957. Then Wayne's new job, as a safety consultant in the Denver branch office of Employers Insurance of Wausau, brought them to Colorado. This proved to be a more satisfactory job, and a permanent relocation. They bought a house in the new subdivision of Broomfield Heights, a town with perhaps 2,500 residents and very few paved streets, and succeeded in putting down roots. They were among the founding members of a new Lutheran congregation, Beautiful Savior; Melva remained a communicant there until at her death. Both their sons graduated from Broomfield High School, in 1967 and 1972. The family meanwhile took advantage of summer camping and fishing opportunities around the state and region, and eventually developed a special attachment for the northern Colorado community of Red Feather Lakes. In 1965 they bought a small cabin there, on Letitia Lake, which Wayne and Melva intended to enlarge and improve into a plumbed and heated house to which they would one day retire.

Wayne died in 1976. By then Melva had worked as cook for the Boulder Valley schools for a decade; when she retired in 1984 she was the manager of the kitchen of Broomfield High School and satellite kitchens in two elementary schools. In retirement she realized the old dream of moving to Red Feather, exchanging the old cabin on Letitia for a winterized cabin on Hiawatha Lake. She lived there from the summer of 1984 through the fall of 2001, undaunted by winters when the local population would fall below two hundred and the snowdrifts between her back door and garage might climb as high as her head (the top of which was never more than five feet from the ground). In all likelihood she was never happier than in those sixteen years in Red Feather, where she found a place at the very heart of the year-round resident population, playing bingo at the community center in the summers, playing cards year-round, drinking coffee endlessly with friends, working part-time in one of the two town's two stores, fishing for trout, making Christmas wreaths, gadding about to meetings of the Library Friends, the Historical Society, and the Mountain Gals, and entertaining the endless stream of Nebraska relatives and friends who came to visit. She would surely have stayed longer had she not suffered health problems-breast cancer in 1998, followed by other maladies and the normal afflictions of increasing age-that made it imperative (in her children's minds, at least) that she live somewhat less than fifty miles from the nearest hospital.
Thus in 2001 she moved back to Broomfield, where she lived in the Silvercrest Apartments, made new friends, renewed contacts with old ones, and resumed her place in a community that she knew well. This return, to a town vastly larger than the one she had left in 1984, did not immediately cut her off from Red Feather Lakes, to which she continued to return whenever she could to fishing and visit old friends; but it marked a new phase in her life. She remained independent, and very much her own woman, for more than a decade. Eventually, however, growing health challenges-a broken wrist, ovarian cancer, a transient ischemic attack, advancing osteoarthritis-gradually shrank her realm of movement and diminished her levels of activity. Finally, in 2014, she agreed to move to Boulder to be nearer her son and daughter-in-law.

Melva's two years at The Mezzanine of Golden West, an assisted living residence, were a kind of rear-guard action, during which she came to accept the loss of independence-she had given up driving-with good humor and good grace. Once again she made friends and wove herself into the heart of a community of residents bound together by mobility problems and complex health challenges. Eventually those infirmities conquered her: at New Year 2017 an episode of congestive heart failure accompanying a fall sent her to Boulder Community Hospital. After a month in rehabilitation at Manor Care failed to return her to a level of strength and balance sufficient to allow her to return to Golden West, she made the move to the Long-term Care wing, her last new home. There she proceeded, once more, to make friends, making herself once again a member of