Gray Rose a Fixture Downtown for 58 Years

Published July 11, 2007 by Colorado Springs Gazette.

Irene Woods Newcomb, whose upscale women’s clothing store the Gray Rose operated for nearly 58 years and became a downtown Colorado Springs fixture, died Saturday.

She was 97.

Newcomb was born Sept. 14, 1909, and raised on a cattle ranch before moving to Colorado Springs in 1916. In 1939 she opened the doors of the Gray Rose.

“For a woman, or anyone at that time, to start a business was impressive,” said her granddaughter, Susan Beckler, noting it was also during the Great Depression.

One of her grandmother’s favorite stories was about how, when she opened, other merchants placed bets on how long she would stay in business. She outlasted most of them to see the Gray Rose become one of the oldest continually operated retail stores downtown. Newcomb also operated a beauty parlor, bridal salon and corset shop at various times on the second floor.

“She was an icon to many women in this community,” said Vicki Diamond, the face of the Gray Rose in print ads for 20 years. “She really did define the word ‘lady.’”

Jerry Rutledge had known Newcomb since he opened Rutledge’s, a men’s clothing store downtown, 40 years ago. He said Newcomb and the Gray Rose were an inspiration for his own high-end store.

“She understood business, fashion and service and really was quite a lady,” Rutledge said. “She will be missed but I think what’s amazing for us is that she lived the life she wanted to live,” Beckler said.

Services for Newcomb will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at Swan Law Funeral Home. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery. Newcomb is survived by her daughter, Patricia Demmin; three grandchildren, Kappy Dye, Susan Beckler, and Scott Demmin; and six great-grandchildren.

Comments are closed.