Sally Steele Metzger, 92, widely known in the Denver Jewish community for her long career at Rose Medical Center, her career as a performer and her community activism, passed away peacefully on Dec. 29, 2021, surrounded by her children.
A memorial service took place Dec. 31 at Feldman Mortuary, conducted by Rabbi Steven Kaye, followed by a private burial at Mount Nebo Cemetery
A Denver native, Mrs. Metzger was the daughter of Morris and Florence Price. She graduated from North High School and the University of Denver. During her DU years, from 1948-51, she worked at the Intermountain Jewish News as a feature and society writer, under the supervision of Max Goldberg and Bob Gamzey, who became longtime personal friends.
After living for a few years in New York, Mrs. Metzger returned to Denver and was hired by Rose Medical Center in 1967, originally as director of women’s activities, eventually becoming the hospital’s public relations director.
At Rose, where she worked for 25 years, her skills as a people person made her the perfect position for the demanding position. Chris Leppek, IJN assistant editor, worked with Mrs. Metzger frequently and remembers her as “both a consummate professional, in terms of representing the hospital in its public relations and marketing, and a warm and accessible friend who perfectly understood the demands of newspaper production. It was never less than a pleasure to work with her.”
A major dimension of Mrs. Metzger’s life was as a singer and actress, playing leading roles in local productions over a span of decades. Her first show was at the Green Spider, a beatnik coffee house in Denver’s Uptown district, in which she shared the stage with Jonathan Parker, the father of Denver dance maven Cleo Parker Robinson.
She would later star in such musicals as “Pajama Game,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Pal Joey,” “Carnival” and “Fiddler on the Roof” at Denver’s famed Bonfils Theater and the Third Eye Theater. She loved to sing and entertain, and family and friends will always remember her renditions of “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”
In her last interview with the IJN in 2013, at the age of 83, Mrs. Metzger discussed retiring from her acting activities, and readily displayed her omnipresent wit.
“What part would I play? ‘A Little Night Music’ has a part for a grandmother but she doesn’t have a good song,” she said with a laugh. “And I always want to be the leading lady.”
Her attributes as a people person also served her well in her many community activities, which included the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Family Service and NCJW. Always skilled at marketing, she came up with the names of events that were used for years, including RMC’s Rose Celebration and JFS Reel Hope.
Mrs. Metzger was preceded in death by her second husband, Jerry Metzger, in 1995.
She is survived by children Shelley Steele Gaynes (Bruce) and Craig Steele (Nancy); grandchildren Carley Gaynes (Matthew Blass), Jonathan Gaynes, Melanie Gaynes, Dylan Steele (Camden Mobley) and Laura Steele (Michelle Collar); and her new great-grandchild Eleanor Collar Steele.
Donations can be made to the Sally Steele Metzger Passover Fund at the JFS food pantry or to the JFS fund of choice.
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