On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in October, red, pink and gold balloons were released at Globeville’s Broadway Recreation Center. Rice Krispy bars, potato chips, candy and soft drinks were served, and family, friends and all those who were fortunate to know her celebrated the life of Annie Bolden. Bolden retired in 2000 and passed away in Houston, Texas. Some at the gathering had been children who used the Center when Bolden was in charge, but people of all ages shared stories of adventures, activities, conflicts and lessons learned that were vivid even after 20 years.
Bolden wasn’t born in Globeville, nor did she live in the neighborhood, but she influenced all who knew her at Globeville’s Broadway (formerly Stapleton) Recreation Center.
Born in Waco, Texas in 1934, Bolden attended schools in Waco and completed her college education at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, earning a bachelor of science in physical education in 1954. Her accomplishments included both academic and athletic awards in women’s basketball, track and softball. She never lost her love for sports, and would go on to play semi-pro and competitive fast-pitch softball as a pitcher for over 20 years.
After college, she moved to Denver for better opportunities and to join her older sister Mae Kyle. Bolden got her first job with Denver Parks and Recreation at the Glenarm Center that serves Denver’s Five Points and Curtis Park neighborhoods. In 1965, she was transferred to the St. Charles Recreation Center, at 3777 Lafayette Street in the Cole neighborhood. During her eleven-year term, Bolden gained appreciation and respect in the heavily
Then Joe Cianco, head of the Parks and Recreation department, abruptly transferred her to Globeville’s Stapleton Center to “straighten things out.” There had been a series of violent incidents at the center, including a fatality. Bolden was apprehensive. “You’ll do fine,” Cianco said. And she did.
Many of the people who used the center were from the nearby Stapleton Public Housing Projects and were a very diverse group. Bolden could relate to them all. Shannon Kanan remembers, “Any child, any parent, any need, she was an advocate for each one. [She] gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. She was fearless–always negotiating.”
Bolden was a Rec Center supervisor at a relatively young age, but she conveyed authority. Kanan elaborated, “She didn’t get along with everybody and she didn’t bite her tongue. She had to put a kid out of the center for one year, and when he came back, he had really grown up.”
Bolden created volleyball, softball, basketball and cheerleading classes, but also crafts, food programs, educational assistance, summer and full-time jobs, adult activities and outings. Roberta Mollock Sanders smiles as she describes them. “On Fridays, we had these bus trips. We would go to Idaho Springs, to Estes Park, Chautauqua, and Tiny Town. It was fun.”
Bolden received accolades from civic leaders and police departments, but her greatest legacy is in the lives she touched through the Denver Parks and Recreation Department and the communities she served.
Mary Lou Egan is a fourth-generation Coloradan who loves history and is working on a history of Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Her blog http://globevillestory.blogspot.com contains tidbits about the community. You can reach her at email@example.com