Tiaras line the shelves of a display case near a small white couch. A great grandchild’s painting of a bouquet of flowers is displayed proudly in the hallway. Photo albums containing snippets of a woman’s life lay scattered across the coffee table. No matter how many years pass, she always has a smile on her face.
After 100 years of life, two husbands, five children, and many roles including Spanish teacher, dancer, AARP volunteer and decorated pageant queen, Highlands Ranch resident Yvette Gunther hasn’t let any time go to waste.
Gunther turned 100 years old on July 30, celebrating with 80 friends and family members at Mount Vernon Canyon Club west of Golden.
“I have a lot of friends. You know, you accumulate them over the years,” said Gunther.
Before the party, Gunther described how she planned to dance with her performing group, Cream of the Crop, which started when she lived in Littleton. Three of the original members are still involved and would be dancing with her. Gunther also takes Chinese ribbon dancing lessons from instructor Christina Ye and planned to perform her own dance.
Before her time in Colorado, Gunther grew up in British Columbia and attended an all-girls boarding schools from age 6 to 12. “I graduated number one in my class, and guess what I won? Four years of another girls school in California, and I wouldn’t take it,” said Gunther. She decided to attend the University of Washington instead for general studies.
Gunther spent the summer after her senior year working in Seattle while living at her sorority house. That’s when she met her first husband, Carl Gunther, who was a navy officer at the time, on a blind date.
She followed Carl to Colorado to meet his family, and he proposed to her in the mountains. “Then we came back here and raised our family in Littleton. It was a very nice place to live. And finally, we moved to Highlands Ranch,” she said.
After 59 years of marriage, Carl died, and Gunther joined a widows’ club where she met her second husband, Calvin Wilson.
“This fellow came up to me and asked if I’d go out with him and I said, ‘No, I don’t know you.’ So, he waited a few months and asked me if I’d go out with him, and I did,” said Gunther.
She was married to Wilson for nine and a half years before he died. Gunther said both of her husbands loved her very much and she was lucky to have two wonderful people take care of her.
Gunther has been very involved in the community over the years, founding chapters of Toastmasters in Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock and Parker.
“It’s a great organization where you learn to speak,” said Gunther. “I was made president of three clubs at one time, and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I need to have some experience talking in front of people,’ so I started Toastmasters.”
She taught kindergartners in Denver for a few years, including one year of Spanish. “The next year they said, ‘You have to take the test now to see if you can pass,’ and I said, ‘I don’t think I can pass the test,’ so I dropped out quick,” said Gunther.
Gunther volunteered for AARP for many years, founding two chapters in Colorado.
She also competed as a senior pageant queen, winning Miss Senior Colorado in 1998 among others.
Now, Gunther attends an aerobics class every Monday and Thursday with her friends and walks her dog and best friend, Toby, every day.
She said maintaining good friendships is the most important part of life.
“I think to have a good friend, you have to be a good friend,” said Gunther. “I try to be a good friend. I remember everybody’s birthday and do things like that and remember to call them every once in a while. Friendship is the most important thing right now.”
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