A look at people in our community

My Name Is … Cynthia Drew

Artist, former teacher has big family with Colorado history

Posted

‘Edge of civilization’

My husband and I moved to Arapahoe County in 1973 because we were expecting our first of four children. We were both 28 years old, and I am now 76 years old. I have never left Arapahoe County. I am a Denver native, so when we moved to the Knolls area, it was the edge of civilization to me!

We raised our four children here, and they all attended Littleton Public Schools — Carl Sandburg Elementary School, Isaac Newton Middle School and Arapahoe High School.

Sports inspiration

Teaching art was my only job outside the home. My degree from Colorado State University was a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education, and my first job was at Lincoln High School in Denver, which lasted five years until we moved. 

From 1973 to 1988, I stayed home with the children, who played many sports. In 1988, I attended CU Denver and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1990.

I began painting sports since this is what I knew from standing on the sidelines for countless years. In 1993, I published a limited-edition lithograph of a Rockies baseball pitcher, titled “Bringin’ Heat,” which sold well for many years. Subsequently, I also published a limited-edition lithograph of Andres Galarraga, all of which he also autographed.

Then in 1995, I began substituting for art teachers in Littleton schools and later also in Douglas County. My art substitute career lasted 19 years.

Deep roots

In the 1880s, my great-grandparents homesteaded in South Park in Park County, where they grew hay. Their homestead was at the foot of Kenosha Pass near the town of Jefferson.

There are 80 descendants in total of our grandmother, who was the first generation (of our family) to be born in Colorado — my siblings and cousins are the third generation.

Most of our family gatherings are for weddings or other special events, but my children and I planned a full family reunion for September 2021. This was the only reunion in which most of the three generations came together at once. 

I have four siblings, we all live in Colorado, and all of our children and grandchildren live here — except for a nephew in New Zealand.

Of the 17 siblings and cousins in my generation, seven live in the Denver area.

‘Family lore’

My great-grandparents on my father’s side came to Denver in the 1860s, so there was extensive family lore revealed to us over the years. Some members on both sides of my family have researched our heritage, back to the old country. 

All generations know that our grandparents, Clara and James McConaty, had to struggle with setting up the family business, two world wars, the Depression and persecution from the Ku Klux Klan in Denver. Facing these struggles was aided by a strong Catholic faith. The takeaway is that life is full of obstacles that have to be overcome — a faith in God makes this possible.

The family is the center of my life, especially the four children, their spouses and the three grandchildren. The extended family, consisting of all of the in-laws, is also very close and plans adventures among themselves.

Mother knows

I have a T-shirt that says, “If you met my family, you would understand.” When asked for the meaning, I reply: “I’m the second of five children, the mother of four and a teacher; I’ll tell you what to do.”

If you would like to suggest someone for My Name Is …, or if you would like to be featured in the segment, contact Ellis Arnold at earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com or 303-566-4109.

Cynthia Drew, James McConaty, Clara McConaty, Centennial Colorado, My Name Is

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