If you go
What: 90th birthday party for Evelyn Monger
When: noon to 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Scott Community Center, near the Selbe Apartments
What: 90th birthday party for Elaine Gay
When: 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Lake House at Catamount Ranch and Club
Cost: Free (no gifts)
Steamboat Springs When those who know them well describe the dispositions of longtime Routt County residents Elaine Gay and Evelyn Monger, one word comes up before others: strong.
"What really gets me," said Elaine Gay's grandson Todd Hagenbuch, who works on the family's Pleasant Valley ranch with his uncle, Bill Gay, "is that everybody always says, 'Oh, do you and Bill take care of your grandmother?'
"I say, 'No, she still takes care of us,'" Hagenbuch said.
Gay has food ready, made from scratch, for everyone who comes to visit her Lake Catamount home. She keeps the house clean and is completely self-sufficient, Hagenbuch said.
That commitment to taking care of a home, neighborhood and community - and the people who live in it - characterizes Gay and Monger. On Sunday, the women will celebrate their 90th birthdays with afternoon parties.
Donna Mae Hoots, the youngest of Monger's five children, said her mother was intent on instilling strong values in her children.
"Her goal was to make sure that we all went to college and that we all turned out to be responsible adults," Hoots said. "She's always known what is right. And she spent a lot of time teaching us respect and integrity and to be honest. Together with my dad (Lloyd Monger), they both invoked that on us to be very important."
Hoots said her mother's strong work ethic, continuing involvement in the community and strong will stand out as personality traits.
"She's just had a great sense of drive and doing the right thing, and being a great person, a good neighbor and a good friend," Hoots said.
Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of Community Agriculture Alliance, has known Gay and Monger her whole life. She said their level of activity in Routt County throughout the years is one of the community's strongest assets. She puts Vernon Summer, Margaret Hogue and her father, Raymond Gray, in the same category.
"All of those are people that donated a lot of time to our community, and were active in everything from school boards to church boards to community activities. : All gave in many different ways and held this community together when there weren't as many people to hold it together," Daughenbaugh said.
"Their sense of ethics, and right and wrong, and the handshake being a good way to operate - I think for all five of those people, it's a real standard for what's right with agriculture, that your word was what it was," she said.
Monger was Daughenbaugh's neighborhood 4-H leader growing up. Daughenbaugh said Monger taught her about leadership and impressed on her the importance of being organized, punctual and accurate in everything she did. Daughenbaugh remembers Gay always listening to what she said as a child and having a friendly sense of humor.
"They were leaders in the community, in one way or another. They raised families, and they stayed here and kept their ranches together and have felt strongly about the environment, the land and water, and felt strongly about how to treat it," Daughenbaugh said. "We're pretty lucky to have some of these old-timers still around."