Have You Met?

Sharon Whiton Gelt is one of Denver's hardest-working volunteers and the Imelda Marcos of hats. With over 300 in her closet, she is never seen without one, but the reason behind her signature accessory is not simply fashion -- it's religion.

"It's a requirement as an Orthodox Jew that I cover my head," she says, "but I'm lucky, because I love hats! Many Orthodox Jewish woman wear wigs, but I chose to wear hats so I can have fun with it!"

Sounds like hard work getting dressed in the morning. "I have every hat embellishment imaginable," she says, "from hatbands, lace, bows and hat pins, to ribbons, fruit and flowers, so getting an outfit together does take some time. Thankfully I'm a very left-brain, mathematically oriented person, so it's more like solving a fun puzzle every day."

Growing up Catholic in Chicago, the youngest of three sisters, fashion always played a huge part in Sharon's life. But it wasn't until she converted to Judaism and met her husband Ted that she was able to combine her passion for fashion and a higher calling.

In the mid 70's, after completing her Masters degree in Florida, Sharon moved to Colorado. She had never felt comfortable with her religion, and after a neighbor introduced her to Judaism, she began taking classes to learn more about it. It was in one of these classes that she met her future husband, Ted. A few years later, her conversion was complete and she's been an Orthodox Jew and a habitual hat wearer ever since - and she couldn't be happier.

Sharon and Ted stick to a strict kosher diet and never go out on Friday nights. Although this curtails their ability to dine in certain restaurants and attend Friday night functions, it doesn't affect Sharon's dedication to volunteering. She is involved in numerous volunteer activities and is known to many as a marathon giver of her time and energies to a variety of causes.

What giives a woman/man style? Treating others with respect and appreciation.

Which social event is your favorite? I don't have one favorite. I'm a highly social person and each event is unique and special.

Do you have any volunteer activities? I've volunteered for over 80 non-profits since 1980. I'm very active, either on the board or a past board member for the DCPA Alliance, American Heart Association, Central City Opera Guild, Jr. League Sustainer Council, Food Bank of the Rockies, Children's Diabetes Foundation, Fine Arts Foundation, Jewish Family Services, Children's Hospital, Keshet of the Rockies and the Denver Zoo.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Richard Dreyfuss. I met him at a fundraiser for the Allied Jewish Federation and he had depth, was very personable and extremely tolerant of difficult people.

Who is your hero and why? My father because of the way he loved my mother. He was there for her until the day she died and he how he has courageously taken care of himself since she's been gone.

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? Julie Roberts, because she's played some pretty diverse roles. I've been in a lot of difficult situations in my life and I think she could handle the complexities and multi-faceted aspects.

What words describes you best? Charitable and social.

What words would you like others to use to describe you? Charitable and social.

What was your first job? When I was ten years old, I was a pet sitter for Oscar, my neighbor's award-winning, de-fumigated skunk.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? When I forget about my sense of humor.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty - there is no chance of a healthy relationship when the foundation of trust is breached.

What is your greatest indulgence? Fashion.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband Ted and our life together.

What is your most treasured possession? My invisible crown of precious jewels that represent my friends and family.

What is your favorite journey? I've had many great vacations to exotic and ancient countries, but my favorite journey is life itself - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Seeing what terrorism does to people.

Who are your favorite writers, favorite books? I'm not a fan of novels, I prefer non-fiction. I like reading about health science and nutrition, books on travel to ancient historical sights and fashion.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Focus on honesty, dependability and being balanced, have realistic lifetime goals and always set aside time to help others.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Betsy Ross, who created the first American Flag, because my birthday is on Flag Day.

What is your favorite quote? "Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost.