Cover photo for Gwendolyn T.M. Serra (Leber)'s Obituary
1931 Gwendolyn 2022

Gwendolyn T.M. Serra (Leber)

August 21, 1931 — February 25, 2022

Gwen T. M. Serra

Gwendolyn Theresa Marie Serra passed away on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction after a long battle with Calciphylaxis and kidney disease.  Gwen was born August 21, 1931 in Cripple Creek, Colorado to Richard and Lois Leber.  Both of her parents came from hard rock mining families and Richard was a hard rock miner in most of the gold and silver mines around Colorado.  He also helped build underground oil storage tanks at Pearl Harbor.  Gwen grew up during the Great Depression era moving from the Victor/Cripple Creek area to the Silverton/Ouray area before her family ultimately settled in Ouray, Colorado.

Disney’s Snow White was released to theaters in 1937 when Gwen was 6 years old.  It was the first full-length animated feature film and the first animated feature to be produced in Technicolor.  Gwen was enamored with this film and became a lifelong collector of Snow White figurines.

Gwen graduated from Ouray High School in 1948 and was the class valedictorian.  After graduation, Gwen worked as a bookkeeper for Camp Bird Colorado Inc. located just south of Ouray.   While employed at CBC Inc., she met fellow employee Mike Serra Jr. who became the love of her life.  Mike and Gwen were married on August 25, 1951.  They started what was to become a large family of seven children with the birth of their oldest child, Mike Serra III, in June 1952 followed by Michelle, Mark, Matt, Monique, Myrl and Mead.

A few years after their marriage, Mike and Gwen moved from Ouray to Montrose where Mike became a successful building contractor.  In 1956, they bought a house on Park Avenue in Montrose that was originally built in 1908.  Mike renovated the home in 1964 to accommodate his growing family’s needs.  Mike and Gwen lived in their home on Park Avenue until their deaths in 2006 and 2022, respectively.

Gwen had an active work and social life throughout her nearly seventy years in Montrose.  She was employed part time at Ray and Lois Ladage’s laundry business, and when her sister-in-law Alma Huntington and  husband Jack purchased the Lazy IG Motel, (now the Country Lodge), in Montrose in 1978, Gwen helped by providing support for all aspects of that business.  Gwen was also active in the Montrose Emblem Club and served in various officer positions ultimately as the president, during her lengthy Emblem Club membership.  She baked countless chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for Emblem Club’s bake sales and served in any capacity needed

 Part time jobs, community service and club activities aside, Gwen was first and foremost a mother and homemaker who was focused on her husband and children.  With seven gregarious children, she never knew which family friends might show up for dinner at the Serra household.  Everyone was welcome and no one went away hungry.  She very much enjoyed canning Palisade peaches and making wonderful jams which she made an annual event for herself and her grandchildren. Gwen spent hours and hours helping with homework and school projects.  Gwen was very intelligent and encouraged her children to excel in school, study hard and to  think outside the box.  It was important to Gwen that her children live up to their fullest potential and they did.  All seven of Gwen and Mike’s children are college graduates and successful professionals.

Having grown up in Colorado with parents who were avid fly fishermen and big game hunters, Gwen loved the great outdoors.  She relished going camping and fishing with her husband, children, and extended family.  She was always available to help cut up and package a deer.  She truly enjoyed eating trout and venison.

Gwen was a creative artist who combined previously loved and typically discarded household items with natural materials into award winning craft art.  She could literally make something out of nothing.   The costumes she made for children won many prizes at the Emblem Club’s annual Halloween costume contest.  None of those award-winning costumes were purchased, all were hand made.  She also helped design and fabricate Emblem Club’s annual county fair booths.  With Gwen’s artistic talents, Emblem Club won numerous blue ribbons for their booths.   Gwen was an accomplished calligrapher, and her personal penmanship was beautiful.  Even in her late years when her eyesight was poor, she wrote letters to her children and grandchildren with elegant, flourished handwriting.  Lastly, Gwen enjoyed sewing and embroidery.  She made embroidered quilts of her own design for her granddaughters as well as original design embroidered kitchen towels for her daughters and daughters-in-law.  Her grandchildren received hand-made original design tactile learning books for toddlers.  They were works of art. Due to living through the depression and WWII shortages, she has lovingly left 14,237 rubber bands to her children…

Gwen was a sports fan.  She much enjoyed watching her children play baseball and football.  She was an active league bowler and supported and encouraged her entire family in that sport.  She followed all types of professional sports and was particularly fond of the Denver Nuggets.

Surviving family members include five sons and two daughters, i.e. Mike Serra III (Marie) of Centennial, CO; Michelle Serra (Brad Tompkins) of Overland Park, KS; Mark Serra (JeNaia) of Libby, MT; Matt Serra (Delila) of Durham, NC; Monique Serra (George Woolsey) of Fruita, CO; Myrl Serra of Grand Junction CO; and Mead Serra (Dixie) of Montrose, CO.   12 grandchildren; Michael, Ragen, Kiel, Tiffany, Geo, Landis, Gerad, Griffin, Niko, Giles, Dorian and Mario. 8 great grandchildren; Lydia, Meredith, Remington, Mia, Ava, George, Evelyn and James. Brother Richard Leber of Payson, UT; and Sister JoAn Tabor of Grand Junction, CO. Special nieces, Dona Capone and Cathy Hermanns (Montrose). Gwen was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Mike Serra Jr., her parents Richard and Lois Leber, and her brother Ralph “Bud” Leber.

Gwen will be interred in the Cedar Creek Cemetery on Friday, February 4, 2022 at 10:30 a.m.  Arrangements are under the direction and care of Crippin Funeral Home, 802 E. Main St. Montrose, CO.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Serra Family Education Fund established in 2001 for the benefit of Northside Elementary school in Montrose.  Donations may be mailed in c/o Western Colorado Community Foundation, 225 North 5th Street, Suite #505, Grand Junction CO 81501



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