In 1917, Woodrow Wilson was president, the U.S. had just entered World War I, and the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded when Margaret Crawford was born in Durango, Colo. Crawford's family gathered in Golden last Saturday to celebrate her 100th birthday. The centenarian is a former Paonia resident and still has relatives living in the area.
Ruth Margaret Bader grew up in the Durango-Silverton area, the oldest of five children. After graduating from Durango High School she attended the old Fort Lewis College's Hesperus campus, where her father was farm manager. When Fort Lewis became a two-year school, her dad became dean and she attended school in Durango for three years. She then attended Colorado A&M in Fort Collins, which would later become Colorado State University, where she earned a degree in home economics, with a minor in science.
After graduating she taught school for a year at Ordway, Colo., and returned to Silverton to teach.
She became engaged to Robert "Bud" Crawford in December 1941. After the U.S. entered into World War II in 1942, he volunteered for the Army and was sent to Camp Stoneman in California. In December of 1942, they were married. (She would later pen her recollections of their adventures, which was published in "Women of the Homefront: World War II Recollections of 55 Americans.")
They eventually returned to Silverton, where they lived for 50 years and Margaret taught school for 20 years. After her husband died, she moved to Paonia in 1984, where her oldest brother and wife were building a house. "I was getting a little tired of digging paths through the snow," said Crawford.
She found that, unlike in the high-altitude cold climate of Silverton, everything grows well in Paonia, and she planted a big garden. Her lilies, peonies, roses and fruit trees are still thriving today.
Even at 100 Crawford leads an active life. She attends the Methodist church, where she played the piano for many years, and she loves to paint with watercolors. Looking back on her life, Crawford said one of the most interesting memories was the first moon landing, which occurred 48 years ago tomorrow. "That was something to learn about," she said.
Crawford still has family in Berthod, Colo., and two siblings, including Floy Singleton, of Paonia, and youngest brother Bill Crawford, who lives in Washington. She also boasts 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
When asked what she thinks about turning 100, Crawford sort of shrugged it off. "There's not much I can do about it," she said.