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Saint Joe's Takes Day to Thank Krantz for 50 Years

February 27, 2008
MASSARO: St. Joe's takes a day to thank Krantz for 50 years By Gary Massaro Tuesday, February 5, 2008 It was plain old Monday on the calendar for most folks. But at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital, it was Darlene Krantz Day. And it was extra special, for this day came along once in 50 years. A half-century - that's how long Krantz has worked at St. Joe's. That doesn't count the few years of part-time work she did for 55 cents an hour with her million-dollar smile while she was at Annunciation High School. "I had to pay my way through high school," said Krantz, one of 12 children in an east side family. Sister Virginia Torres, of Wheat Ridge, said Krantz has always been shy but outspoken. "Like when they asked her if she wanted a gold watch and she said no," Torres said. For Krantz, 69, the pay has gone up. And she still has her big-money smile. She was greeted with hugs and handshakes, smooches on the cheek and well wishes. That was another surprise. When someone remarked that a lot of people liked her a lot, she said, "I didn't know until today." Krantz knew the hospital was throwing a reception for her. She guessed there would probably be cake and punch. But she was totally taken by surprise by the other surprise the hospital had for her. First, officials had to lead up to it. COO Margo Karsten estimated that Krantz had eaten 12,000 meals in the hospital cafeteria over the years. And she gave her a lifetime cafeteria gift card. Bob Minkin, chief executive officer, said the reception was the right thing to do. "Fifty years' service in any employment is remarkable - 50 years of uninterrupted service," he said. "To let it go unnoticed wouldn't be right." Krantz was the hospital's first phlebotomist, a fancy word for someone who draws blood. "It took a few months to learn," she said. "I'm still learning." She has learned a lot. She helps in the morgue. She still draws blood. She does billing and filing. If someone wants to know something, it's: "Ask Darlene." And then the staff led up to the surprise. Karsten noted that Krantz has a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle she bought new. Krantz said she doesn't have a clue how many miles the yellow car has on it. She did acknowledge that she replaced the engine once. But she takes the bus to work from her home in Wheat Ridge. Karsten recalled first meeting Krantz 18 months ago. She asked how long Krantz had worked at St. Joe's. Then asked what she would like. "A new car," Krantz said. So Karsten said the hospital did just that, pay for a two-year lease on a new VW Beetle from Tynan VW. And then she said everything is paid up, including taxes and insurance. There were gasps from the crowd before all 60 who came on their own time stood and applauded. Krantz brushed away tears as she made the walk from the reception room to where her new car was parked. She got in. And this time, her smile was priceless. massarog@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5271 © Rocky Mountain News