Paula Mechau

Obituary
1 entry
  • "Paula was a delightful person that I had great pleasure..."
    - Marci Smilanich RN
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Paula Mechau January 31, 1907 - November 17, 2005 Paula Mechau, born Paula Ralska to Nathan and Frieda Ralska on January 31, 1907, passed away at Community Hospital November 17, 2005 where she had been admitted for a broken hip. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Frank Mechau, a noted Colorado artist to whose career she was deeply devoted. She met her husband-to-be in a Manhattan bookstore; both were avid readers. Later, considering his proposal of marriage while on tour as an actress with a dramatic troupe, her train derailed and she was thrown through a window. Seeing one of the train cars falling toward her, she expected to die. But regaining consciousness, she saw that it's fall had been blocked by a train car on the adjacent track. Moved by being thus spared, she was filled with wonder as to how best to use her gift of life. Returning to New York, she married Frank Mechau. They sold their book collection to cover a one-way ticket to Europe where Frank studied and painted. Paula liked to tell how, when their funds ran out, Frank wrote the Guggenheim Foundation to say he could hardly accept their refusal of a grant since he had already spent the money. (Subsequently, he was granted three Guggenheim fellowships.) Paula, however, luckily landed a job doing layout ads for an American cosmetic firm. This job enabled them to stay on for two more years in which Frank continued his painting and his study of early renaissance masters. Shortly after their daughter Vanni was born, they returned to Colorado in the height of the depression. During the next several years they had three more children and lived mainly in Colorado Springs. After her husband's untimely death in 1946, she devoted herself to her children. She taught them folk singing. They gave concerts and made recordings and thus helped support the family. Paula was a fierce opponent of racial prejudice, and in 1948 helped to provide a hospitable welcome for the great African-American bass, Paul Robeson, when he came to Colorado Springs. Paula was a teacher of folk music in the Grand Junction public schools and secretary to John Holden, the founder of Colorado Rocky Mountain School. There she taught weaving, served as librarian, and inspired students and faculty for 30 years. She was an outspoken environmentalist, a founding member of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association. She helped defeat plans for a dam on the Crystal and an ill- conceived ski area and development in Marble. Paula Mechau was a dynamo of spiritedness who in her 60's crossed high mountains in cowboy boots lugging a back pack full of sweet corn. Her love of nature, the Crystal River valley in particular, and her love of literature, her children, and friends, sustained her. In later life she rallied on numerous occasions from illness and injury. For the past several years, she lived in assisted living centers in the Palisade area. The family wishes to thank all those who gave her loving care. Paula is survived by her four children: Vanni Lowdenslager of Gunnison, Dorik Mechau of Sitka, AK; Duna Stephens and Mike Mechau, both of Palisade; 10 grandchildren: Kris Stephens (Annette) of Albuquerque, NM; Karl Stephens (Bea) of Fruita; Jim Stephens of Palisade; Sandra Daws (James) of Clifton; Erin Marner (Joel) of Palisade; Clarissa Whitehead (John) of Soldatna, AK; Mark Mechau (Fionnuala) of Palisade; Mally Strong of Carbondale; Elizabeth Gartner (Daniel) of Grand Junction; and Christopher Sanford of Forest Grove, OR; 14 great-grandchildren: Derek & Blakely Stephens; Leandro, Melina, & Luis Velasco; Homer and Jemima Strong; Zondra& Dylan Masden; Roman & Felix Mechau; Ian & Sean Sanford; Logan Youngblood; two nieces Judith Shongut of AZ, and Nancy Kozeradsky; and nephew George Miller of New Jersey; three great-great-grandchildren: Roman Jr. and Jonathan Mechau, and Devon Mechau, all of CA. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 1:00 P.M. in the Callahan-Edfast Mortuary Chapel. A later Memorial will be held at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale on Sunday, June 18, 2006 in the morning at a time to be announced. Donations in honor of Paula Mechau may be sent to the Colorado Rocky Mtn. School, Carbondale, Colorado 81623 for a student scholarship fund.
Published in The Daily Sentinel on Nov. 27, 2005