Life at 92
BRECKENRIDGE – In a couple weeks, Martha Kroepler will be in her garden planting pansies and enjoying the beautiful views of Breckenridge from her home that sits at nearly 11,000 feet.Soon, she will also be celebrating her 92 birthday later on this month, making the outgoing, sweet, bubbly little woman one of the oldest people in Summit County.”I have my aches and pains, but I’m independent. I get around,” she said. “I’m in good health. … That’s what amazes me, I didn’t think I’d live to be 92.”How she does it? Kroepler credits her family for the close ties they share, the natural beauty of Summit County, the mobility Summit Stage offers her and says much of it has to do with attitude.She moved to Breckenridge at age 77 from Chicago after her only son, Keith, built a home with a downstairs apartment for her here. Before arriving, she had never seen the mountains.
Keith, his wife, Debbie, and daughters, Cyndi and Kim, used to come to Summit County to ski. One day, they decided to make the move from Chicago to the destination they’d fallen in love with, said Kroepler who thought a change could be fun.She immediately took to the area where “there’s so much to do if you want to do it.” And the altitude never affected her. Although, “of course when I moved here, I had to drink 14 glasses of water a day,” she laughed.For Kroepler, Fridays are her nights out. Each week, no matter what the weather, a Mountain Mobility driver takes her to the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne for bingo. She is also a sports fan and, during football season, never misses a Broncos game. Previously, she enjoyed spending days at the Summit County Senior Center, but stopped going after nine of her friends moved away, mainly to go live with family, she said. Kathryn Davis Grohusky, manager at the senior center, explained that often seniors move away when health issues arise because there is no assisted living facility in the county. If no family is here or a nurse can’t be hired for care, than moving is the only option.According to data from Northwest Colorado Council of Government, less than 1 percent of the county’s population is older than 84. Out of the 1,100 members of Summit County Senior Center, 60 are in their 80s and two will celebrate their 90th birthday in less than a year.
Being healthy at age 90 is a “huge accomplishment anywhere … it’s pretty unusual,” Grohusky said.Impressively, Kroepler maintains her independence, doing her own grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.Her husband, Charles, died 19 years ago. The couple met when they were 17 through his aunt who lived next door to Kroepler. About five years later, they were married and 10 years after that their son was born. Charles had an insurance business, while Kroepler stayed home to care for the family.”It was a different time then,” said Kroepler who was born June 27, 1915.The couple had 53 years together.
Some of the sayings Kroepler models her life by include living for the day and accepting things you cannot change. Still, she said losing her husband and then later one of her granddaughters are “things you never get over.””You never think of burying your grandchildren,” she said about Cyndi who died 13 years ago in a car accident on Dillon Dam Road when she was 18.Kroepler said she feels she was here to help her son and family during that time. Today, she has a table in her room dedicated to memories of her granddaughter.”Something is keeping me strong,” she said quietly, before adding with a laugh, “I’m hangin’ in there. That’s one of my favorite phrases. … It’s a whole different world now. I go along with the times.”Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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