Milda Jensen Gade, 99, died peacefully on June 3, 2020, at the home of her daughter in Canon City, Colorado. Milda was born in Hay Springs, Nebraska, on January 18, 1921, to Jens Jensen Dahl, a Danish immigrant, and Ane Sophie Abelone Jensen, the eldest of twelve children. Milda was raised on a small farm on the Mirage Flats, south of Hay Springs and the Niobrara River, where her parents had purchased a quarter section of land. Jens and Sophie led a caravan of Danish relatives across the prairie from Antioch to the Flats in 1918, where they broke the sod, plowed and planted their fields, built their home and outbuildings, and raised their windmill. Milda and her three-year-old brother Ejvind became ill when an epidemic of whooping cough swept through the country in November 1921. Ejvind died in the arms of his father, but eleven-month-old Milda survived.
Milda grew up in the thriving Danish community and attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, of which her parents were charter members. Church services were often followed by picnics along the river and potlucks. Milda attended Danish folk schools on the Mirage Flats, as well as Young Peoples’ Conventions. She attended grades one through eight in a one-room school called Busy Bee 93, milking cows and helping with chores before walking to school. Milda’s father Jens died when she was in seventh grade, and Milda and her surviving four siblings worked hard to help Sophie keep the farm. Milda attended Hay Springs High School for three years, graduating in 1938. Like many Danes from the Mirage Flats, she worked for room and board while attending high school. Milda always loved music and dancing, sang in the HSHS Glee Club, and played the piano, organ, trumpet, and accordion.
After graduating high school, Milda took a train to Brush, Colorado, to help on the farm of Sophie’s Danish friend Bertha Gade during the summer of 1938. She became particularly close to Bertha’s daughter Hilda and son Harold. Harold convinced Milda to return to Brush that fall, which she did, living and working at Eben Ezer (now Eben Ezer Lutheran Care Center). She returned to Hay Springs in 1941 to work for relatives and neighbors, but had quietly fallen in love with her best friend and soulmate, Harold. Their 55-year marriage began on May 28, 1941, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on the Mirage Flats. The newlyweds returned to Brush and rented a two-room house across the street from Harold’s parents, Niels and Bertha Gade, in Hillrose. They owned and worked on several farms in the Brush area, including farming with Harold’s parents. Their five children were born at Eben Ezer and baptized in Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brush.
Milda and Harold moved to Greeley in 1953, purchasing the Victory Motel and living there until their eldest son Ron graduated from high school. They greatly valued education, and Greeley was home to Colorado State College (now UNC), from which three of their five children graduated. They opened their homes in Brush, Greeley and Ft. Collins to more than one friend or relative who needed a place to live to attend school or recover during illnesses. Several families lived at the Victory Motel for many years, as did Milda’s brother Orval. These families became great lifelong friends, and Milda would sew clothes for all, including Easter dresses for the young girls living there. After selling the motel, they traveled with their 5 children and niece Diane for six weeks in the western United States and Canada, and then moved to a large home in Evans. She and Harold supported their children in school activities, sports, 4-H and Scouts, and all took music lessons. Milda accompanied them on the piano in performances and contests. Milda worked at J. C. Penny for many years, but finished her career working as a secretary and bookkeeper for Bonell Good Samaritan Community and Loveland Village in Greeley and Loveland, Colorado, respectively, retiring after 31 years of service. A few years after their youngest children graduated from high school, Harold and Milda moved to Ft. Collins, where Milda continued to live until a year after Harold’s death in 1996, when she moved to Canon City to live close to her daughter. Harold and Milda traveled to all 50 states, made two trips to Denmark where she met many of her father’s relatives, were active members of the Loveland Rose Society and the Good Sam R.V. club, and were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greeley and Zion Lutheran Church in Loveland. She was a member of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Canon City, continued to attend musical performances, traveled to spend time with her children, and enjoyed her many neighborhood friends in Canon City. She loved to knit, sew, crochet, embroider, garden and bake (she was famous for her cinnamon rolls), although she sadly had to give up these hobbies as her eyesight failed. She enjoyed, most of all, time with family, and the many phone calls near the end of her life from her sister, children, grandchildren, loving relatives and friends gave her much happiness. Her greatest legacy will be her devotion to her family and community. She was a model for all of us in staying connected and supporting one another. We cherish her memory.
Milda is survived by her sister Vera Hoefer of Hay Springs; sister-in-law Dorothy Dahl of Albuquerque; children Arnold “Gene” (Muriel) Gade of Oregon; Wayne (Jeanne) Gade of Kentucky; Glenn (Mary Anne Braymer) Gade of Denver; and Barbara (David) Pruett of Canon City, and daughter-in-law Erica (Jay-Dee Arent) Gade of Georgia; fourteen grandchildren – Grace (Pete), Patton (Shari), Daniel (Wendy), Elizabeth (Nathan), Christopher (Kaddie), Caitlin (Luke), Jens, Eric (Serenity), Emily (Kirk), Melanie (David), Amy (Neil), Ryan, Kirsten (Raymond), and Lindsey; and twenty-two great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents Jens and Sophie Dahl; siblings Ejvind, Elvin, Orval, and LeRoy; son Ronald; in-laws Niels and Bertha Gade, Holger and Irma Gade, Al and Jeanette Gade, Harold and Hilda Johnson, and Jean Hoefer.
No memorial is scheduled at this time. Milda will be interred at Loveland Burial Park next to her husband at an undetermined date. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be given to Sangre de Cristo Hospice, Orchard of Hope Foundation, or Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, all of Canon City, Colorado, through Holt Family Funeral Home or her daughter, Barb Pruett.
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