Women Who Light up the Community
LaVern Johnson's Speech
June 8, 2016
Members of the Boulder Chamber, friends, family, and cohorts,
It is indeed an honor that I have been chosen as one “Who Lights Up the Community,” and I certainly thank Julie, Priscilla, and Tamara for
nominating me. This is something that I would never have dreamed of. However, as I look back on my life, I will admit I have been very busy with “never a dull moment.” I do want to give credit to all I have worked with through the years to make these accomplishments.
In 1945, just out of high school and a poor farm girl, I waited on tables in Estes Park to pay my way to Barnes Business School. Then O. J. Ramey asked me to work for his Insurance and Real Estate Company, and that is how I got involved. I started teaching Sunday school in 1948.
At that time, they were trying to close our high school and have one big County School (later two district schools) but we rounded up the outlying areas and won our cause with high schools in Lyons, Niwot, Silver Creek, Skyline, Erie, Mead, and Frederick. (I welcome the school officials that are here today who help us “keep an eye” on our small school).
I married Mr. Laverne Johnson of Niwot in 1950 and we became known as Mr. and Mrs. Laverne. We have two sons, Jerry and Ron, so I became involved in the PTO and school sports, and I am still on the Parks Committee that we formed in 1965. Here we have written grants, passed an ordnance to buy land and to fund the Parks & Rec. Department. We were making great accomplishments until the flood.
Meadow Park suffered severe flood damage and is being restored. We will have a new Park, which has a new name; the “Lavern M. Johnson” Park, an honor the Town of Lyons recently bestowed on me for my fifty-plus years of service with Lyons Parks & Rec.
In 1958, we started the Red Rock Ramblers Square Dance Club, and still hold dances in Lyons every Saturday night throughout the summer. This is our 58the season. We invite you all to stop at the Lyons Elementary School gym and see what “do-si-doing” is all about. A special square dance tour of the restored park is scheduled for Sunday, September 4, at 5:30 p.m. We invite you to come. We welcome the several square dancers that are here today!
In 1973, we formed the Lyons Historical Society to save our old train depot that was going to be sold and moved. It served as the Town Library until the 2013 flood. The depot has now been restored for Town of Lyons offices.
In 1976, we heard they were going to tear down our 1881 schoolhouse. We panicked, and called the Lyons Hysterical Society. However, we did save the school for the town museum, and have operated it daily during the summer for the past thirty-eight years. It is the “place” to visit. The Lyons Redstone Museum is supported by the Town, School District, and Historical Society with grants, donations, fundraisers, and dozens of garage sales. We recently completed restoring the exterior of the museum, and thank Estella Cole and husband Jim, of the State Historical Fund; and the museum cohorts that are here today for their help in preserving and displaying area history.
In 1976, we started fighting Coffintop Dam, which was proposed to be four hundred-foot high, hold thirty-eight billion gallons of water, just one-half mile above Lyons, over an earthquake fault on fractured sandstone. We formed the “Dam Concerned Citizens” and persuaded a $1 million study to be undertaken that proved the Coffintop site to be #10 instead of #1. We certainly still watch any dam discussions.
My husband was elected on the Town Board in 1982 to Dam the Dam and served eighteen years. After his death, I was appointed on the Town Board, was elected for twelve years, and am now term limited. The worst has been trying to help with the 2013 flood damage and the recovery. Trustee Wendy Miller is here representing the Town.
As a sideline I write a weekly column of the goings-on and town history for the Lyons Recorder, this is my 35th year. I want the many new families to know how various town amenities got there. The editors. Lora and Joseph are here today.
People ask me if I am taking it easy. I will say “NO,” as I am on a School Bond Committee, which includes new schools and additions, added space for the Lyons Elementary, and a much-needed auditorium for the high school.
Thanks to Joseph who sang the “Ballad of Mrs. Lavern” and Tamara who wrote the words, and Brian and Kim who played and recorded the music. I thank my sons and family for their support; in addition, thanks to Judge Terry Ruckreigle of Frisco, State Representative Jonathan Singer, wife Allison and baby Gwen, all who came today, and especially the Boulder Chamber for this wonderful honor. I pledge to keep on “keeping on” as long as possible. Thank you.