Each year the Cody Medical Foundation recognizes volunteers in our community for their outstanding service. Congratulations to the 2018 honorees: Jan and Lee Hermann, Melanie Lovelace, and Theo Riley!
Jan and Lee Hermann
Jan and Lee Hermann have been volunteering in Cody since they first arrived in 1972 with their three sons, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Lee joined the Cody medical community as a pathologist and Jan, a trained nurse, was also a homemaker. In those first Cody days, they helped originate the Rolling Meals program through the Cody Senior Center. They’ve been driving meals every week for over 35 years. “They’re exceptionally caring and committed to helping others,” says Linda Johnson.
Jan and Lee grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and met while Jan was finishing nursing school and Lee was working to complete his Medical training. Lee already in the Air Force served 12 years of active duty and then nine years in the Reserves, achieving the rank of Colonel and retiring in1992. While at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Jan taught new parents’ classes.
Lee is an avid pilot who owns his owns plane. Recalls Kirk Waggoner “Lee and I were in Search and Rescue together for many years. He was a volunteer physician and pilot. He flew numerous missions. He’s a wonderful guy; smart, interesting and a talented.” When blood supplies ran low for Cody patients, Lee often flew to Billings to pick up emergency blood, a savings of several hours of time.
As secretary for AAUW, Jan was instrumental in the successful campaign to add kindergarten to the Cody public schools when it didn’t exist in Park County. “Jan is great. She takes volunteer commitments seriously. She’s proactive, weighs ideas carefully, is dependable and there when you need her,” notes Harriet Bloom-Wilson.
When their boys were younger, Jan became a Cub Scout leader, and Lee a former Eagle Scout, was a Scoutmaster. He often made preview flights over the destination routes the scouts were to hike or canoe later such as Eagle Creek Meadow and the Big Horn River.
Some of the other many volunteer positions Jan has held are; President of the Wyoming Medical Society, founding member and board member of Northwest Family Planning, board member for Habitat for Humanity, board member for Northwest Wyoming Film Series and Advisory board member of Wyoming Rising. She was a Presbyterian Church Session member, a volunteer for Crisis Intervention Services (CIS) and volunteers with the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.
Lee’s many years of community service includes President of the Wyoming Society of Pathologists, President of the Wyoming Medical Society, President and Trustee of Northwest Community College, board member of Northwest Community College Foundation, board member of Yellowstone Regional Airport, Elder of the Presbyterian Church, and Member of the Cody Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, he was awarded the A.H. Robbins Community Service award and was the Wyoming Physician of the Year.
Lee is also a painter and photographer. Together they’ve taken many trips with Northwest Community College to such places as France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru.
Why do Jan and Lee volunteer? Says Jan, “ When you work with people, you share similar kinds interests and passions about what you’re doing. What you’re working for is helping others. It gives you a community context you might not have otherwise. It’s gratifying. Rolling Meals, CIS and the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program are great places to volunteer in Cody”. Adds Lee, “Volunteering, it’s the thing to do. It makes you feel good. I think I’m supposed to help people. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”
Since moving to Cody in 1987, Melanie Lovelace has devoted herself to community service. “When Mel puts her heart to a project she is a force of nature. She brings ideas, energy, and teamwork. She commits and will never let you down. She’s the first there and the last to leave”, says Graham Jackson former Cody Regional Health Foundation Director.
Born in Fort Worth and raised in Texas, Lovelace’s family moved to Minnesota where she graduated from high school. She studied Interior Design at the University of Denver. After moving to Maryland, she met her husband, Pete Lovelace, on the Eastern Shore when a mutual friend introduced them. They soon moved to the EJ ranch on the Southfork, subsequently moving closer to town. “Cody is such a great community, with a fabulous museum, hospital, rec center and 300 days of sunshine a year,” says Lovelace
Lovelace, the current Cody Regional Health Foundation Chair began working with the formerly West Park Hospital Foundation in 2011. Some of the many hospital campaigns she has contributed to are; the West Park Hospital Spirit Mountain Hospice House, Barn Dances, Baker Community Rooms, the Big Horn Basin Cancer Treatment Center, the cardiac and pediatric units and Where the Buffalo Roam.
Says Lovelace. “With the Cody Regional Health Foundation, it has been very gratifying to raise money. When we moved to Cody in 1987, there were 12 doctors in town. Now we have close to 60. The hospital has doubled in size and treatment areas. You no longer have to go to Billings for your healthcare. I’m humbled to have played a part”. Affirms Jackson, “Melanie is the spirit of volunteerism, unparalleled. You can always count on her. She walks the talk and is a ton of fun”.
Theo Riley is dedicated to the mental health well being of her community. “Her deep desire to provide mental health services is unheard of the world of mental health. Her volunteer efforts are second to none in the entire region. She has a critical interest to promote and support mental health for emergency responders and hospital staff alike,” relates Linda Waggoner.
In 1959, as a junior in High School, she moved to Laramie when her father Bill Strannigan, a Rock Springs native, became the University of Wyoming’s Basketball coach. After graduating from the University of Wyoming with English and Speech degrees, Riley moved to Cody to teach tenth grade English. Notes Riley, “My first class of students is having their fiftieth reunion this year, the class of 1968. It was my first year teaching. I’m now more a part of the class than I ever was separate. We’re friends, but they did play a lot of pranks on me that first year.”
Waggoner recalls, “I met Theo in the mid-eighties when I was teaching a CISM class at the Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas. At first, like many psychologists, she wasn’t sure how the training for emergency responders differed from her training as a psychologist or if it was even necessary. As an attentive student, she quickly saw the value of the adjunct training. It was necessary because it could provide adequate assistance for emergency responders. Many psychologists don’t understand that. CISM isn’t therapy. It has a specific, significant therapeutic value for emergency responders. Her volunteer offerings beneficially promote mental health throughout the community.”
Riley is a member of the CISM foundation and a CISM introductory trainer. She is a board member and past president of the Wyoming Psychological Association, and a board member of the Wyoming Board of Psychology, the Children’s Resource Center and the Heart Mountain Free Clinic. She is on the Buffalo Bill Art Show committee and teaches Ministering to Others, at the LDS church to name some of her volunteer activities.
Thinking she would retire, Riley found a continuing need for psychological services in Cody and is currently working with the Park County School District and Wyoming Workforce Services. She has two children, Bart and Matt, and is married to Mike Riley a retired High School teacher.
“I’ve met wonderful first responders. Volunteering gives a purpose across a lifespan. It helps us be resilient, take the knocks of life, make social connections and create a routine. I’ve learned a lot by being affiliated with different groups of people. I’ve learned to take the other person’s perspective. I’ve always felt fortunate to have my education. I like sharing it”, notes Riley.
Images and articles by Cindy Bennett