A surprise never seems to get old.
“All I know is they’re going to give me a birthday party. That’s all I know!” Gertie Abkes said.
Gertie knew about the party the staff and residents at Clermont Park Retirement Community had planned, but she shrugged it off.
“It’s no different than 104,” she said. “Same thing.”
On Friday, Gertie Abkes turned 105.
“Doesn’t feel like 105!” Gertie laughed.
The surprise wasn’t the party. It was who showed up. Former Broncos players Billy Thompson, Dave Studdard, Larry Evans, Larry Brunson and Ron Egloff stopped by to celebrate.
“Broncos are everything to me,” Gertie said.
Gertie was 47 years old when the Broncos became a team in August of 1959.
“105 is really special. I mean, really, really special,” Billy Thompson said. “Unbelievable! I mean, can you imagine how much she has seen?”
Thompson and his fellow Broncos gave Gertie a bag full of Broncos memorabilia and autographed pictures. Gertie was quick to put on a blue Broncos hat.
“People like that – that’s a true fan,” Dave Studdard said.
Studdard and the other former players joined a crowd of people in the restaurant of the retirement community.
Residents took the microphone to wish Gertie well and share stories.
“Seeing these people, I kind of tear up a little bit” Studdard said.
As pieces of cake were handed out, people greeted Gertie and dropped off cards.
“Happy birthday Gertie,” a staff member said, kneeling down beside Gertie. “This day is about you, not about the Broncos,” she added with a smile. “I know that,” Gertie responded.
Surrounded by a room full of fans, Gertie even signed her first autograph at 105.
“I’ll put my John Henry on there,” Gertie said, signing her name on the bill of a hat.
Any Bronco will tell you, that’s a feeling that never gets old.
“Couldn’t be any better!” Gertie said.