For this 101-year-old, it’s all hugs

Meet Cecilia Droll, and know a hug is on the way.

Over the 101 years the Brooklyn native has spent as a wife, mother, World War II factory worker, homemaker and gardener—many of those years in Golden—she’s made a point to share some cheer with others.

“You’d be surprised how many people warm up when you give them a hug,” she said while sitting at her kitchen table in her 1950s home.

The invitation to her 100th birthday party in April 2013 at St. Joan of Arc Church in Arvada told guests to “Come get your hug.” Photos of the day show her embracing family, longtime friends, fellow churchgoers and clergy.

One of her daughters, Binny Howard, said her positive attitude is infectious.

“She is amazing, she really is,” Howard said. “She is a spark of light when she’s in a crowd. They all greet her and they know they’re going to get a hug.”

Underlying her hugs is a belief in the power of love.

“I think love is the answer,” said the centenarian.

As Ceci sat reflecting in her purple top and painted lips, she recalled that her life wasn’t planned.

“I was born right after midnight and my father delivered me at home,” she said.

Her mother was 40 years old when she delivered her April 24, 1913.

“I was not a wanted baby,” she said. “She told me herself I was an accident.”

Howard responded, “What a wonderful accident.”

Cecilia Droll

Cecilia Droll holds one of her childhood dolls she was once pictured with in the early 1900s. Photo by Nissa LaPoint/DCR

Ceci grew up in New York where she recalls seeing horse-drawn carriages and kerosene lamps flickering at night. Her Hungarian father, Gustave, worked as a pastry chef and emigrated from Germany to America in 1905 with her Slovak mother, Paula.

Although wary of sailors for their reputed coarse manners, Ceci met a sailor and soon married him in June 1936 at St. Joan of Arc Church in New York. He was sent to sea on the U.S.S. Langley, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, but went down with the ship after Japanese dive bombers damaged it so badly that it was scuttled in 1942.

With their first child Barbara to care for, Ceci went to work as a “Rosie the Riveter” at a factory in Long Beach, Calif. She was one of many women who went to work during World War II making war supplies and building airplanes.

“We had to take over for the men,” she explained.

She returned to New York to care for her dying mother and worked for American Airlines. While there she met another sailor, Edward Droll. This one was Catholic.

“He was friendly and I liked him,” she said about their first meeting at the famous Roseland Ballroom in New York City. “He had a good sense of humor.”

They married at the same St. Joan of Arc Church in April 1946. They drove to Denver where he worked as a machinist and worked for the Rocky Flats Plant. He later died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2000.

They raised Barbara and their four children—Mark, June, Bernadette (Binny) and Susie—in the Catholic faith. They prayed the rosary together regularly as a family while kneeling on the basement tile floor. Sunday Mass and family dinners were a priority.

They spent most of their days in the home Edward built on two acres of land in Golden. During that time, Ceci budded into a gardener and became the longest-certified master gardener in Jefferson County. She wrote columns, taught classes, held outreach efforts and visited elementary schools to mentor children on gardening and forming sustainable lifestyles.

In her days, it was a way of life, she said.

While she doesn’t maintain a garden today, Ceci still lives in her Golden home. Her meals typically consist of a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup and added vegetables. She proudly demonstrates how she can touch her toes, a sign of health she attributes to vitamins.

Ceci said she attends Mass as able or watches the TV Mass and frequently prays. She also stays in touch with her 12 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

She’ll continue to share hugs until God calls her home.

“Whatever God wants for me,” she said.


COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit:  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 

HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.