Heil sets the example … 90 is the new 70

­Rangely’s Jean Hejl celebrated her 90th birthday in September with her five children, pictured here: (left to right) daughter Peggy Davis, son John Kraft, Jean Hejl, daughter Shirley Rauch, son Richard Kraft, and son Steve Kraft (front).

RANGELY I If Jean Hejl is what 90 looks and acts like, people need not worry so much about aging. Jean celebrated her 90th birthday Sept. 22 with about 25 family members gathering in Rangely for the party.
Anyone who knows Jean undoubtedly has the same response to her turning 90. “She is the youngest 90 you’ve ever seen.” She is active, involved and certainly in control of her surroundings.
Jean moved to Rangely in 1964. Her parents started the Rangely Auto Parts store. Jean worked for B.C. Well Service for 12 years and later spent 10 years in the real estate business with her son Stephen.
Jean married Edward Hejl in 1981. He worked for Chevron for more than 20 years before retiring. The two were married for 17 years before he passed away.
“We always worked,” Jean said. “If a person wants to work, they can work in this town (Rangely).” She’s complimentary of the way Chevron has always been steady and the gas and oil has kept the town going.
“It is a town that is busy at 6 a.m.” She expressed her appreciation for the community and its kindness. “It is a great place to live, a good place to retire and people do a lot for each other.”
Jean’s five children all attended her birthday party, making the event extra special for their mom. Shirley Rauch traveled from Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jon Kraft from Oklahoma City, Okla.; Richard Kraft from Salina, Kans.; Peggy Davis from Elizabeth, Colo.; and Steve Kraft of Rangely. Along with her five children, Jean has 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and four great great-grandchildren.
Steve Kraft is the financial officer for the Rangley School District, a position his mother realizes is very stressful but so critical for the school system.
“Our schools are wonderful here, we have great facilities and the community stands together.” She has seen a great deal of change in the past 50 years in Rangely and she said, “It has greatly improved. It has cleaned up and things like the recreation center are wonderful.”
“Rangely is a progressive town,” she added.
Jean attends the Radino Senior Center for lunch and has made many friends in the community. One friend is Maggie Long, who gets the credit for the birthday tip.
“You have to be on top of your game to stay ahead of Maggie,” Jean said. The two friends share an appreciation for the area and Maggie shares in the excitement of celebrating Jean’s 90th birthday. Maggie, along with so many others, are amazed by Jean’s youthful personality and appearance.
To meet Jean, one might guess her age to be about 75, but certainly not 90. With her copy of The New York Times freshly read, her quick humor and kind cooperation was refreshing. She is an inspiration who proves 90 may be the next 70. Happy birthday, Jean.