Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award

The Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award remembers the work of the first president of The Society from 1980-1982. His leadership helped to bring increased awareness and recognition to the field of gerontology in Colorado. The Award recognizes the work of community leaders who strive to be on the vanguard of efforts to improve the quality of life for older adults. The Award was established in 2014, with the inaugural recognitions of Eugene Dawson of Metropolitan State College of Denver, Marvin Montgomery of the Denver Broncos, Justina Curlee of KUVO Jazz89.3, Dennis Gallagher of the City of Denver, Wellington Webb of Webb Group International, Stevon Lucero of the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council and Senator John M Befalls, Colorado General Assembly. Other past recipients include Ferol Johnston, Golden Orchard (2015), Robert Trembly, 50 Plus Marketplace News (2016), Ernest Parker, Alpar Human Development Services (2017), Julie Kraft, Kraft Homes (2018) and Mark Koebrich (2019).


The Awards Committee of the Board of Directors is pleased to present the 2020 Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award to jointly to Priscilla Bapp, Maggie Sparks, and Donald J. Opera.

Priscilla Bapp, studied at Multnomah University and graduated from Arapahoe High School in Littleton. She has worked at Alpha, USA. She is the owner of Master’s Touch, a small assisted living in Centennial.  As a woman owned business for the past 27 years, her market niche is a loving Christian home that respects individual choice in a residential home.  Her style is to promote independence and personal choice, as well as to have services available to provide residents and families peace of mind.  As an older worker, she has continued to bring services to her residents, often working the shifts herself.

Maggie Sparks became the owner and administrator in 2007 of Monarch Manor Assisted Living, a 39-bed assisted living apartment complex in the heart of downtown Denver, specializing in the treatment of the chronically mentally ill individuals.  As a female owned business, Monarch Manor has served the chronically mentally ill for 50 years.  Prior to owning Monarch Manor, Maggie worked for Lucent Technologies and Avaya.  She has been active in policy working with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to change the classification for individuals with mental illness and serving on the Colorado Department of Pubic Health and Environment Assisted Living Advisory Committee helping to re-write the regulations for assisted living.  She served as secretary of the Colorado Assisted Living Association Board of Directors.

Donald J. Opeka opened Orion Mortgage with his wife in 1996 providing loans and refinances.  Starting in 2016 the line of business began focusing on reverse mortgages.  Don believes that every borrower’s current situation must be understood to structure a loan that meets their unique circumstances.  He has completed the Certified Senior Advisor designation.  He is active with the Jefferson County Council on Aging, Adams County Aging Network and Colorado Gerontological Society.  He is a regularly featured speaker on reverse mortgages.  His seminar “Reverse Mortgage Myths – The Stories Behind the Loans” is approved as a one hour continuing education unit for Colorado Real Estate Professionals. He was a Navy Pilot and had a career in oil and gas previously.

The Society is pleased to present the Eugene Dawson Leadership Award in Aging to Priscilla Bapp, Maggie Sparks, and Donald J. Opera.