Centenarian Mildred Nienaber has seen a lot of things in her lifetime.
Having just celebrated her 100th birthday, Mildred was born in 1916 – a time before smartphones, television and computers. A time when you could purchase a Model-T Ford for just $360.
It was also a time when hundreds of thousands of children were dying from medical conditions that are today considered completely preventable or treatable.
“Back then, there were a lot of babies who didn’t make it,” recalls Mildred, as she marvels at the medical advances of recent decades. “Today, they’re doing things that I could never have dreamed of.”
Motivated by a desire to support healthier futures for children everywhere, Mildred and her late husband, William Nienaber, made a generous bequest to Children’s Hospital Colorado several years ago. The couple established two endowed funds: one to support children’s health research and another to help cover the cost of care for families with limited means. With their generous gift, the Nienabers became members of the Gates Society, a special recognition for donors who contribute $1 million or more to Children’s Colorado.
“I believe that all children should have the opportunity for good health,” says Mildred. “I feel good knowing that our gift will be used to support new research and the best care for so many children.”
Mildred says that her husband was a hard-working man who loved to give back.
“He was a very kind and generous person,” says Mildred fondly.
During their working years, William had a career as a barber and self-taught carpenter, while Mildred worked as a switchboard operator. In the early 1960s, the couple moved from Nebraska to Colorado, and William built an all-brick ranch home near downtown Boulder. The Nienabers lived there together for nearly 50 years.
“Bill and I had a wonderful life together,” says Mildred. “The one thing we weren’t blessed with was children. That’s why we wanted to support Children’s Hospital Colorado. We thought about all the good that our gift could do for the little children – before they’re born, after they’re born and throughout their lifetimes.”
Mildred said that she and her husband always lived simply, which enabled them to give back to others. The couple had been married for nearly six decades when William passed away in 2009. The following year, Mildred sold their longtime home and donated all of the proceeds to a local charity that helps adults with disabilities – another cause that’s close to her heart.
Today, Mildred lives in Boulder where she continues to remain active. At 100 years old, she still makes her own bed and goes for a walk every day. Her memory is sharp, and her generous spirit continues to shine.
“It’s difficult to express in words how I feel about turning 100,” says Mildred. “But I have a lot to be thankful for each day. I count my blessings.”