GLA Living Landmark: Lorraine Wagenback

Living Landmark Lorraine Wagenbach

Lorraine Wagenbach

Golden Landmarks Association honored Lorraine Wagenbach as one of its 2002 Living Landmarks.

Lorraine, one of Golden’s most knowledgeable historians, lived in Golden for over 80 years.  Lorraine grew up in Wide Acres and took the street car to school in Golden each day for 12 years.  She enrolled in Denver University in 1936, and in 1942, she married Bill Wagenbach, a childhood friend.  Lorraine remained a stay-at-home mother until her two children, Jim and Margo, were in junior high.  She then returned to DU to get her degree in Business Administration.  She worked at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) for 15 years.

In 1978, when Lorraine retired from CSM, she took courses in journalism at Metro State College and was published in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.  In 1983, she became a charter member of the Historic Preservation Board.  At this time, she also began writing historical articles for the Golden Transcript, and continued writing articles and books.

In 1980, Lorraine edited a collection of stories written by members of the Pioneer Delphian Study Club, a women’s group started in 1929.  Entitled “A Woman’s Life in Golden,” the book depicted the lives of members  who lived in Golden.  In 1987, “Golden:  The 19th Century” was published by Lorraine Wagenbach and Jo Ann Thistlewood.  In 1999, Lorraine published “St. Joseph’s Red Brick Church,” which relates the history of the Catholic Church in Golden from 1899 to 1949.

In 1991, Bill Coors asked 34 old-timers to make a video of Golden’s history from 1900 to 1950.  Lorraine was the historian.  The video took six months of painstaking research at the Pioneer Museum.  Lorraine served on the Board of Directors of the Golden Pioneer Museum for two terms and worked at the museum as a volunteer for some time.

Lorraine Wagenbach had seen years of change take place in Golden during her 80 plus years as a resident.  Ever conscious of the important need people have to understand their heritage, Lorraine has recorded hundreds of pages of the City of Golden’s history.

Golden Landmarks has been proudly honoring Living Landmarks since 2001.  To support Golden Landmarks Association and its mission of historical preservation and education, become a member today or volunteer.

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GLA Living Landmark: Verna Elizabeth (Wendelin) Katona

Living Landmark Verna Katona

Verna Elizabeth Wendelin Katona

Golden Landmarks Association honored Verna Katona as one of its first Living Landmarks.

Verna grew up in Ladell, Kansas, a small town near Atwood in western Kansas.  She received a B.A. in Art and an M.S. in Education from Fort Hayes Kansas State College while working two jobs.

Ms. Katona came to Mitchell Elementary School in 1957 where she taught kindergarten for seventeen years before retiring in 1977.  She is remembered by her principals, Art Ohanian and Jack Seman, as being not only an excellent teacher but a teacher who was very supportive of new and young teachers.

Verna’s student teacher, Ruth Korthuis, says “Fortunate, indeed, were the children who were in Verna Katona’s kindergarten classes…so many interesting things to see and do.”  Holidays were special occasions to be creative, such as Thanksgiving when a live turkey joined the classroom.  She even made a black paper silhouette of each child.  “I hope that those parents will realize how very fortunate their children have been to have had such a talented, dedicated and caring teacher,” Korthuis continued.

In 1971, Verna became involved with a group of citizens who wanted to save the Astor House.  She was one of the founders of Golden Landmarks Association.  The winter and spring of 1972 she even sponsored groups of students from Mitchell to work on the restoration, scraping paint and wallpaper at the Astor House.  She was quoted as saying, “I wanted them to get the feeling that Golden was an important place, a unique place.”

In 1975, she was influential in getting Guy Hill School moved to the Mitchell site from Golden Gate Canyon.  The move of the Guy Hill School became a 1976 Bicentennial project involving many students who participated in petitioning, fundraising, and assisting the relocation process.  For many years, Verna conducted classes in the old school dressed in period costume and explaining how the school was conducted in the old days.

In 1978, she signed up for the Peach Corps and was sent to teach for two years on the remote Pacific Island of Ponape in the Soloman Islands.  Her stories of her primitive life there left all of us marveling at her determination and resourcefulness.

Every superlative has been used to describe Verna:  dedicated, determined, talented, kind, joyful, concerned, and most of all – loved.  She is an unforgettable person.

Golden Landmarks has been proudly honoring Living Landmarks since 2001.  To support Golden Landmarks Association and its mission of historical preservation and education, become a member today or volunteer.

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