Freda and Jerry with their loving children: Danny, 26, Jason, 23, Becky, 26, Alex, 29, and Zach, 23.
Paula Burger is a mother of three and a grandmother of nine. She is the center and core strength of her family, the object of deep love and fierce devotion by every one related to her by blood or marriage. Patient and kind, she gives wise guidance, but only when asked. Paula’s grandchildren love her most because they know she will always listen to them without judgment. Paula’s own mother was taken from her in the Holocaust at the tender age of eight, leaving her to watch over her three-year-old brother as their father miraculously saved the family by hiding in the forests of Poland with the famous Bielski partisans. After four years in a displaced persons camp following World War II, Paula came to the United States as a young teenager. She married at 17 and started a family, relying on her instincts to raise her children. Her husband, also a Holocaust survivor, was 19 and worked three jobs to support their young family. They moved from Chicago to Denver in 1967. With her children in school, Paula worked in real estate and business administration, but her passion was art. In time, she was able to pursue it in earnest. Paula’s paintings have been displayed in the state capital and are in dozens of homes in and out of Colorado. Paula’s children, Susan, Freda, and Steven, attended Denver public schools and college in Colorado. Susan and Steve are lawyers and Freda is a C.P.A. by training, but her passions are community, city government and writing.
Though her children are devoted to her, they are not alone. Paula’s daughter-in-law Alisa, who lost her own mother as a teenager, said, “Paula, my mom is a force to be reckoned with…her power is undeniable. She leads her life from wisdom seeing clearly the whole picture of a person or situation using her knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and humor. I admire her more than can be measured and consider her loving me a gift from God. I keep learning how to be a better woman and a better mother.” From a family friend who also lost her own mother when she was 12, “Paula is one of my best friends’ mom. I was lucky enough to meet her when I was 15. Paula showed me how it felt to be loved and accepted. From her, I saw and felt what family was. I learned about the holidays, how to celebrate them, how to make a home. I really feel Paula, who I call Ma, helped me become the successful woman I am today.” Another family friend who is Paula’s daughters’ age said of her, “Paula’s love is like no other love. She is tender but true. She is our guardian and our guide. She will do everything and anything for those she loves.”
An oil painting of flowers showing Paula’s talent and creativity.
Freda and Jerry Miklin are the parents of five, including two sets of twins. Originally from Chicago, Freda attended Denver Public Schools and the University of Colorado, where she studied and excelled in accounting, passing the C.P.A. exam before she got her bachelor’s degree. During college, she worked as an accountant for Denver’s premier rock concert promoters, Barry Fey and Chuck Morris. After graduation she accepted a position on the audit staff of the country’s top accounting firm, Arthur Andersen & Company, at its worldwide headquarters in Chicago. After a few years, she was asked to join Chicago city government to work directly with the City Controller. She soon discovered that being a part of city government was a way to make a real difference in people’s lives and she never looked back. Missing her family in Colorado, five years later she responded to an ad in the Wall Street Journal for a newly created position in the City of Denver Department of Revenue. Freda accepted the job of Director of Tax Compliance and remained there until the birth of her first child. Freda says, “Once I became a mother it was clear to me that anyone else could do my job at city hall, but no one else could be my son’s mom.” Freda and Jerry added two sets of twins to their family over the next six years, creating a very busy household. Freda never went back to work, but turned to volunteering for her neighborhood and her city. In addition to two stints on her homeowner’s association board, she spent 15 years volunteering on Greenwood Village boards and commissions, including six as chairperson. When her younger twins went off to college, she was elected to Greenwood Village city council. After that, we asked her to join the Villager as our governmental reporter, where she has combined her vast knowledge of government and politics with her great writing skills to keep our readers highly informed. We think she has found her calling.
Last Mother’s Day, Freda’s son Alex wrote to her, “You are an inspiration for all of us. You never give up, no matter what. When I get married, I hope to have as strong of a family as what you and Dad have created. Don’t ever give up on your dreams.” From her daughter Becky, “I appreciate your constant love, support, and honesty. You continue to be such a great role model and I’m proud of the type of person you are helping me become.” Danny wrote, “I have never met anyone more committed to her family. Mom, in you I see extraordinary love, compassion, and intelligence. You protect those who cannot protect themselves. You always find a solution to seemingly insurmountable problems because you do not give up. You have always been there to pick us up, dust us off, and push us toward what we were meant to do. None of us would be who we are today without your love and guidance.”
Jerry is a busy cardiologist so Freda had her hands full as her children grew up. Her mom Paula was always there to help with anything the family needed, from cooking to driving to just listening to her grandchildren. Day or night, she would stop what she was doing to help when they needed her. Freda says, “I always knew I was lucky to have a mom who was as loving as she was wise. I learned everything I know about being a mom and a person who cares about others from her. I am still learning from her, even though she is struggling through a challenging illness.”
Paula was in a car accident two months ago and she is still recovering from her injuries. Freda and her sisters by blood, marriage, or just love are with Paula every day, morning until night, helping her to overcome the challenges she still faces. Sometimes Freda say she just sits next to Paula and holds her hand, making sure she is getting the best care possible. Says Freda, “I look forward to going to the hospital every day to be with my mom. She has been there for all of us all our lives. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
All in their twenties, Freda and Jerry’s children are successful young adults. Alex is executive director of integration services at a local software company, Becky is a C.P.A. working as a senior consultant at a Big Four accounting firm, Zach works in the emergency department at Lutheran Hospital and is pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant, and Jason is working on his C.P.A.
Freda and Jerry will celebrate Mother’s Day this year attending their son Danny’s graduation from the University of Miami School of Medicine. Danny plans to be a cardiologist like his dad.
Happy Mother’s Day to you both from the Villager staff!
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