A Couple That Truly Made a Difference to Parker
Fred and Gunhild Dransfeldt were part of the strong civic-minded culture that made Parker the wonderful community it was in its earliest days.
In fact, if you recognize the name, it’s because Dransfeldt Road was named after the family.
Fred and Gunhild were always civic-minded, says their daughter, JoAnn “Josie” Fetters. They always wanted to see what could be done to make the area a better place for people, she adds.
Fred passed away in 1993, after more than 50 years of marriage to Gunhild, who is now 97 and lives in an assisted living home in Parker.
But together, the couple made their mark on the town. Here’s just a sampling of what they accomplished during their years in the Denver metro area.
Gunhild first came to America and the Cherry Creek Valley in Colorado from Denmark with her parents, Louis and Jensine Kragelund, in 1924. She spent her youngest years living in homesteads up and down the Cherry Creek Valley, where she met Fred, who lived in Melvin, a defunct town located at the south side of the Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam.
Fred spent his youth helping out on the family farm located in the defunct town that had been purchased by his father, Hans Claussen Dransfeldt.
After marrying in 1940, the couple was very active. They rented the dairy farm in Melvin from Fred’s parents and were part of the Grange, a fraternal organization of agrarians dedicated to improving the economic well-being and quality of life of the American agriculture producer and his urban neighbors.
Josie says her mother “blossomed” as a member of the organization, serving as the chair of all of its committees and becoming the Master of the Cherry Creek Grange, the first female to hold such a position in the state of Colorado.
The couple had hoped to purchase the Melvin property, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s plans to build Cherry Creek Reservoir prevented that from happening.
After moving to Parker in 1950 on land they purchased between what is now Jordan Road and Dransfeldt Road, Fred served on the local school board. The couple also participated in the construction of the Community Building, the area’s first gathering place and gymnasium for Parker School basketball games and other events, such as plays and graduations.
While Fred worked with the other volunteers to construct the Community Building, which opened in December 1950, Gunhild was among the women who prepared food for the workers.
Despite the family’s efforts to save the building, including a lawsuit to stop its demolition, the facility was torn down in October 2013 to make way for expansions at O’Brien Park.
“That building was so important” to the community, Josie says, adding her “mother put her money where her mouth was and paid for the lawsuit clear to the Supreme Court.”
The couple was active in other areas too.
Fred helped start the Parker Volunteer Fire Department and served as its treasurer when it became more than a volunteer department. Gunhild always volunteered to help with meals and fundraisers.
In 1978, they helped organize and finance the Bank of the West, the first bank in Parker located on land donated by Gunhild’s mother on the northwest corner of South Parker Road and Mainstreet. Fred served on the board and as its chairman in the 1980s.
Gunhild was an active member of the Cherry Creek Valley Historical Society, the Parker Area Historical Society and the Parker Garden Club.
In 1992, Gunhild and Josie became part of the business community when they opened Glitzy Glitz Girls Boutique. It operated for 10 years on a farm on Parker Road and led the two women to become involved in the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Denver, the Parker Women’s Leads Club and the Parker Chamber of Commerce. They even decorated a horse-drawn coach for the Parker Days and Christmas parades, and sponsored the Mrs. Colorado Pageant and related activities.
Although a massive stroke in 2007 took away Gunhild’s ability to speak and she now moves about in a wheelchair, Josie says that doesn’t stop this long-time Parker resident from communicating through eye movements, sounds and mannerisms as she looks forward to celebrating her 100th birthday in Parker – a place she’ll always call home.