February 11, 2018
"This elegant, classy lady.... and a long-time Denver Icon, passed recently at the age of 103. Adrienne Hayden, we all learned so much about living our best life from you....You will be missed!"
Guess who's going to be 100? Looking into Adrienne Stratton Hayden's sparkling blue eyes, you can see a tapestry of memories from living such a colorful, rich life. Adrienne will be celebrating her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 28th with a big celebration at her favorite Denver landmark The Brown Palace Hotel.
Not much has changed since her 95th birthday at the Brown Palace... she's still vivacious, stays current and is fully engaged in every conversation you have with her. She lives independently in her own home; and her perfectly coiffed red hair and sense of style is a trademark she wears with pride.
Born in Denver at St. Luke's Hospital in 1915, Adrienne's mother died at age 38. Her dad remarried, and at age 15, her step-mom sent her to Mount Saint Gertrude's Academy, a Catholic Boarding School in Boulder. Those were the years during the Depression, and Adrienne credits Sister Mary Murphy with instilling a sense of pride and confidence in her.
In 1942, Mrs. Hayden went on to join the WAC's during World War II. At all of 5'2", she impressed everyone around her - including her commanding officers. During her early years, she also worked for the Colorado State Industrial Commission and had an uncany ability to memorize everyone's name - which Adrienne calls a "lifesaving skill she used throughout her entire career."
Then came her incredible life of "glitz and glamour" with Charles of the Ritz Cosmetics Company (at that time one of the number one lines available throughout the world), and she was known as a dynamo to be reckoned with as one of their top trainers and promoters based in New York - but traveling all over the world and "staying in many hotel rooms for over 22 years, but meeting many famous and remarkable people along the way."
After living in Los Angeles for several years, Adrienne came back home to Colorado and was assigned to work with the Denver Dry Goods, Neusteters and the May Company. She loved being in her native Denver and entertaining her many friends and being involved with numerous charities.
Adrienne met her husband, John "Luke" Hayden; they married in Las Vegas on December 16, 1961 and lived a beautiful life together in Denver until his death at age 93.
Adrienne Stratton Hayden is still a force of energy wherever she goes and embraces life like no one I've ever met. With her own sense of calm and stability, she doesn't let the "small stuff" get to her - perhaps this has contributed to her longevity and fearless ability to age along with what life brings - and enjoy everything around her with zest and passion.
Never having children of her own, many of the children of her dear friends who have passed are helping her throughout this incredible journey. With her feet still firmly planted on the ground, Adrienne isn't about to let any great life experience or opportunity pass her by... Beautiful Adrienne is a gift to all of us!
What is your favorite Denver event that you try not to miss each year? The opening at Cherry Hills Country Club in the Spring, and Hattitude for the Denver Center of Performing Arts in May. I used to love to go to the Doll Tea for the Salvation Army.
What is your all-time favorite place to go in Denver? The Brown Palace. When I go there, Johnny Kite always plays "New York , New York" for me.
How have things changed in Denver through the years? We have more parking lots, more retail stores, more banks - but we need better roads. Churches have changed, attitudes and rules have changed - mostly in our schools; oh, and marijuana -we didn't have that!
Adrienne, you have given to many charities, what nonprofits have you supported the most through the years? Salvation Army, Red Cross, Central City Opera and Sewall Child Development Center.
Can you give us a timeless beauty secret from all your years of working for Charles of the Ritz cosmetics? Never just use soap and water without a moisturizer... No matter what your age, you need a moisturizing cream - especially under your make-up. Treat yourself to several colors of lipstick, be careful with how you use eye shadow; and always carry a breath mint!
You have so many beautiful mementos, what is your most treasured keepsake? My collection of Waterford Crystal Santa Clauses... I have 8 of them.
What concerns you the most about our world today? Our present administration - including the President, senators, congressmen - need to make it a priority to come together!
If you could go back and revisit any place in the world, where would it be? If I could go back in a "time machine" it would be Paris.
What do you consider your greatest strength? Especially a trait that helped you survive your toughest times? During the Depression when I lived at Mount Saint Gertrude's in Boulder, I would say it was Sister Murphy who gave me the courage and confidence to stay strong. If it's just one thing, my good sense of humor for sure!
What is the secret to your longevity? God.
What advice would you give the young women of today hoping to succeed in the business world? Be professional... Don't tell your secrets to your boss - or any of your co-workers, they might use it against you at some point. Stay current and around people who are informed, have patience, and control your temper. Do have someone on the outside you are close to and trust that can advise you when needed... And don't flirt with a man that you shouldn't be flirting with!
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Gathering people together for several charities and always making sure they follow through on what they said they would do for the organization. Also my ability to always remember names, that was my talent!
What do you still want to accomplish? Stayin' Alive!
If you could change anything about your life, what would it be? I lived on the road for over 22 years in hotels, etc. and didn't have a chance to have a family. Too much time went by... Friends became my family.
What are you most looking forward to? My 100th birthday party in April!
How do you want to be remembered? As someone who tried not to be a selfish person and liked to make people happy. Also that I enjoyed giving advice and listening to people's troubles because I cared.