Margaret Ann Meta “Midge” Cranson peacefully passed away June 12, 2020, at home on her farm in La Junta, Colorado, just days before her 95th birthday. Midge maintained her independence, living on her own with support from her children. Her prayer was to live out her life at home; that prayer was answered. Though she suffered a massive stroke on June 9th and never regained consciousness, with her children’s love and care, Midge slipped away peacefully in the same bed where 15 years earlier she had held her sweetheart Walt in her arms as he breathed his last breath.
In a May 1993 interview, Midge was asked how she would like to be remembered. She replied: “That I loved and served God, that I loved and respected my family and they loved and respected me, that I loved and helped care for my fellowmen, and that I enjoyed and appreciated life.”
Margaret Ann was born June 30, 1925, to Albert and Otillia “Otie” Krueger in Burr, Otoe county, Nebraska, the third of four children, two older brothers and a sister. The Krueger family made their living farming. They lived through the depression and dust bowl, relying on a strong work ethic and faith in God. Over the years, Midge shared many memories of a happy childhood. Beginning in 1934, as grade school children, Midge and her siblings made a name for themselves performing for several years as “The Krueger Kids Tumbling Act” at area community picnics and village celebrations, such as the July Fourth celebration in Syracuse, her home town. Midge and sister Junetta developed a tap and acrobatic routine; Midge did tricks riding bareback on her horse. In August 1937, a local paper pictured Midge and Junetta, ages 12 and 10 respectively, in ornate matching outfits (made by their mother) after entertaining at the Syracuse beauty pageant.
Midge earned a teaching certificate and after high school started teaching at a small grade school near her home. Three years later, while attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she met Army Air Force Pilot Lieutenant Walter N. Cranson, who was stationed there until he deployed to England. After WWII, Midge and Walt were married on September 16, 1945, in Syracuse, Nebraska. They took up residence in La Junta, Colorado where Walt worked briefly for his father at Cranson’s Golden Rule Dairy.
In 1946, the year their first son was born and before they owned a car, Midge and Walt purchased a small airplane, a Piper Super Cruiser. Over the years, the family often flew to Nebraska, landing on the farm where Midge grew up and her parents lived. Eventually Walt taught Midge to fly. After earning her pilot’s license, Midge occasionally flew solo to Nebraska for visits with her family. Midge and Walt became members of the Colorado Flying Farmers Association. In 1957 Midge was named Colorado Flying Farmer Queen. The entire family, including all nine children, traveled (by train) to Chicago, Illinois, where Midge was honored in the queen competition at the National Flying Farmer convention.
In 1952 Walt and Midge purchased a farm east of La Junta, where they raised their children and lived till their deaths. Midge focused on being a wife and mother. Ever busy with family and the farm, she made time to volunteer and serve in the Ft. Bent school P.T.A., in church, and in the community.
Midge helped orchestrate fun events for her family and friends, including creating parade floats, hosting farm hayrides and river bottom cookouts. She, Walt and their nine children, (“Cranson Consolidated”), celebrated many unique family traditions. Among these, raucous family viewings of old 8 MM family movies and the joyous Thanksgiving Week family pilgrimage to the farm. They often took family trips, especially camping in the mountains and visiting relatives in Nebraska.
The Cranson family were Presbyterians and the growing family fully participated in the life of the church. Midge actively served in the church as an elder, taught Sunday school for many age groups, sang in the choir, played handbells, and served on many church committees both locally and denominationally. She helped establish the Stephen Ministries program at the church. It was her joy to help serve home communion until early 2020.
After all her children were in school, Midge began working as a clerk for the Santa Fe Railroad. Not being a “paper and pencil” person, Midge moved into people-focused programs. Her entry into social service programs began as a result of the government’s 1964 “War on Poverty”. After receiving training at Kansas State University, she worked as a migrant program social worker, focusing on child development and the challenges of poverty. She helped establish day care centers for migrant children and later became a Head Start teacher. In 1967 she became the planning director for the Otero Bent Crowley County Parent Child Centers. She was executive director of this tri-county program from 1968 to 1972. In 1974 Midge helped develop Sage Nutrition Program; a private non-profit corporation which provides meals, transportation, and other services for the elderly in six rural southeast Colorado counties. She retired from this rewarding job in 1994, having been its executive director for 20 years. At her retirement party, Midge received many cards and well wishes from family and friends as well as from federal and state officials with whom she had worked, including a personal letter from Colorado’s First Lady Bea Romer. While running the Sage Nutrition program, Midge was appointed to and served on several state and local governmental agencies, commissions and task forces, and received recognition for her contributions. She was appointed in 1977 by Governor Richard Lamm to serve on the Otero Jr College Advisory council, serving 12 years, 10 as its president. In 1984 she was recognized by Governor Lamm as “State Volunteer of the Year”. She expressed that these were “Jobs that I enjoyed, felt challenged by and knew that I was being of service to others.”
In addition, Midge worked for years with the original steering group to organize the Arkansas Valley Hospice where she ultimately became involved in direct patient care; she helped organize and deliver meals for the home-bound for twenty-six years with Jay’s Community Christmas dinners; she avidly supported Inspiration Field, an organization providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and served on their board for fifteen years. Everyone there enjoyed her creative Halloween costumes. She and the family were members of the La Junta Community Concert Association, she served many years on the board, and was an enthusiastic and effective membership salesperson. She was a founding member of the local Toastmasters group, honing her skills and earning numerous awards as a communicator.
Connections were always important to Midge. She treasured her family and dear friends. In one of her yearly Christmas letters she wrote: “Our relationships to family and friends is, indeed, a great gift that gives quality to life and makes me feel blessed.” Midge especially loved Thanksgiving and the gathering of her children and their children, and their children! Until 2017, this gathering was held at the farm. Though the growing family filled her home to overflowing, grandkids enjoyed sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder on Grandma Midge’s living room floor. It was truly a time of giving thanks! Gratitude abounded! “God is Good!”
Over the years she expanded her knowledge of health, nutrition, and health-promoting products. Midge willingly shared her knowledge with others. She partially credited her longevity to her attention to health, acknowledging God’s goodness and grace in all her blessings. Midge kept her mind active with the daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
Midge faithfully sent birthday cards to her children, 34 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, and their spouses. During her last year, Midge added a special personal touch in each card: a poem she wrote just for that person. Recently her grandchildren shared how special she made them feel, each knowing they were Grandma Midge’s favorite.
Midge was preceded in death by Walt, her husband of almost 60 years, sons Garth and Danny, daughter, Babette Tully, Babette’s husband Stephen, and grandchildren Lavender Cranson and Samuel Kniley. She is survived by her children: Gary (Sue), La Junta; Jan (LeRoy) Polkowske, La Jara; Nate (Kathy) La Junta; Annette (Jerry) Warsaw, Lima, NY; Greg (Addie), Paonia; and Randy, La Junta; and 34 grandchildren and 75 great-grandchildren, and her lifetime BFF, sister Junetta Copenhaver, Nebraska City, NE, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Midge truly loved the Lord and spent her life in loving service to family and community. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.
In celebration of Midge’s life, a private family funeral will be held at 10:00 AM MDT, June 30, at the First Church of La Junta, 22nd and Raton. A future inurnment service is being planned.
Memorial contributions may be made in her name to Children’s ministries, First Presbyterian Church, La Junta, or to Inspiration Field, La Junta.
The funeral service will be live streamed by the First Presbyterian Church of La Junta.
To view the service on their YouTube video channel, click the link to “Join the YouTube Stream” on the home page (Go Back) on this site
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