Growing up in Denver, native daughter Nancy Grant developed an early and abiding affection for Evergreen.
“We did a lot of picnicking up here, and did a lot of skating on Evergreen Lake,” Grant fondly recalls. “I’ve loved the mountains all of my life.”
Young Nancy also loved swimming, and thanks to a well-placed nudge from her mother took more than a passing fancy to the art of the dance.
“Mom put my sister and me in the Florence Harrison School of Dance at the Denver Athletic Club,” she says. “I did tap, ballet and modern. It was a pretty big deal. They held a big dance recital every year at the Denver Auditorium. Dance was my passion.”
As is often the case, Grant’s passion was not to become her profession. Upon graduating from South High School, she enrolled at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, fell in love, married, and gave up her college career for a full-time job as devoted mother to her son, Randy. Founded more on passion than compatibility, the youthful marriage eventually dissolved and the single mom leapt into the workforce with a will. Grant took a clerical position with Prudential Insurance, where her natural talent, intelligence and leadership abilities were quickly noticed and put to good use.
“I ended up in the home office in Los Angeles,” she says. “I worked installing computers in Prudential offices across Southern California and the Southwest and training the staff to use them.” It’s worth noting that Grant wasn’t supervising the installation and use of trim and efficient desktop PCs. It was the 1980s, when a complete office computer system could weigh as much as a K-car. “They were huge units, and you had to use those cards,” she grins. “But they were pretty amazing for the time.”
As happy fortune would have it, Grant got a lot more from her job than a good salary for rewarding work. In 1970, she got her husband, Bill, a fellow Prudential employee with whom she would spend 35 loving years of her life. Nancy’s last post with the company proved to be among her favorites. Responsible for all of Prudential’s clerical staff throughout a large portion of the American West, she had plenty of opportunities to indulge her inner nomad.
“I always wanted that job, and I finally got it,” Grant says. “I loved the travel. Bill was retired by that time, and sometimes he would travel with me.”
In 1991, Bill traveled with Nancy to Evergreen. Randy and his young family had returned to the clan’s beloved Colorado stomping grounds, Grant took an early retirement and followed him east, and no sooner had she set foot a Mile High than the green heights of her summer memories began singing their siren’s song.
“We’d always vacationed in Colorado, and I’d always thought about living here,” she says. “When I came back from California, I knew I wanted to find something in the mountains. Evergreen just seemed right.”
Nancy and Bill bought a new house in the Cragmont area and threw themselves into volunteer work. Sharing a love of animals, the Grants spent many years as docents at the Denver Zoo, and every summer applied their minds, mouths and muscles in service to the National Western Stock Show.
“We did everything from work the information booth to unloading livestock,” Nancy laughs. “It was a lot of fun.”
With so much of her life centered down below on the plains, when Bill died in 2006 Nancy couldn’t help feeling in some ways isolated among the pines of south Evergreen. That would start to change in 2010 when a neighbor invited her to attend a service at Church of the Hills. Grant is a deacon there now, and a treasured and steadfast member of her spiritual community. That same year she accepted an invitation to attend a meeting of Mountain Foothills Rotary. Last year she served as that organization’s president, and this year she was voted its Rotarian of the Year.
“Rotary enabled me to make new friends up here, which I really didn’t have,” says Grant. “I love Rotary, and I’m 100-percent committed to it.”
Nancy deepened her commitment to the Evergreen community three years ago as a member of Leadership Evergreen’s Class of 2013, receiving a comprehensive education on the diverse factors that make the mountain area work. For their class project, Grant and her classmates led an area-wide campaign to promote Evergreen Fire Rescue’s life-saving Code Red program, and substantially increased the signage at Evergreen Lake for good measure.
“Leadership Evergreen was a really great experience,” she says. “I felt honored to be asked and I looked forward to every class. We had a really enthusiastic group,” she smiles. “We still get together once in a great while. It was really worthwhile.”
Also worthwhile are Grant’s efforts on behalf of a local chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a national organization of, by and for women that increases opportunity through education. Even so, all work and no play do not a balanced retirement make, no matter how worthwhile the work. Accordingly, Grant has been exercising her traveling Jones whenever family and volunteer schedules permit. She spent three weeks on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, toured Australia and New Zealand, soaked up sunny Costa Rica’s tropical delights, trod the soggy sod of the British Isles and sampled Italy’s ancient attractions. She even joined an artistic expedition to far Cathay. But wherever she may roam, Grant is always glad and grateful to return to her heart’s home in the Rockies.
“Evergreen is a fabulous community where people are really involved,” says Nancy. “Frankly, I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else.”