Irene Kratzer

How Many Pennies Make a Mile? Irene Kratzer knows. As a founding member of the Friends of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library and twice its president, Kratzer played a significant part in its Mile of Pennies fundraiser. She also serves on the board of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce, has a regular column in the Coast News, and was grand marshal of the 2009 Encinitas Holiday Parade. Furthermore, she is the only person in her community to be awarded a prize for “infectious enthusiasm.” She even took on the mighty Rand McNally — and won. Dismayed to find her town’s name missing from their 1989 road atlas, Kratzer got 500 schoolchildren to write to the publishers persuading them to reinstate Cardiff. It duly reappeared in the 1990 edition. And the answer to the question? There are 16 pennies in one foot, and 84,480 in a mile.

There was one person in particular I was told I really should include when I was writing Legendary Locals — Irene Kratzer. As always, when several people recommended the same local hero, contact details became rather vague. But the Cardiff Centenary celebrations were coming up and I was told she would be there. “You can’t miss her. Just ask anyone.”It was a wonderful day in so many ways and I met a number of celebrities — Marion Ross, Teresa Barth, even a dog named Dylan — but Irene remained as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel.
And then just as I was about to give up, there she was: surprisingly diminutive, given her huge reputation. Irene’s achievements are many — and I apologized from the start for distilling her entire life into one paragraph — but when I asked what she considered her greatest accomplishment she needed only two words: “my sons.”

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