Each year the Cody Medical Foundation recognizes volunteers in our community for their outstanding service. Here are past honorees.
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
“I want to open people’s eyes to the beauty of where we live. There’s no better place. I paint for the people who live here.” Vivian McCord
Local plein air artist Vivian McCord has been painting and drawing since she was a child. Says McCord, “I’ve always painted or drawn, even before I moved to Cody at about five.” By nine she was oil painting. During college, she studied at The Colorado Institute of Art in Denver. After moving to Chicago she worked with artist Frankie Johnson at the Studio in the Woods. In the 1990’s she returned to Cody with her husband to raise their sons and soon after began taking workshops with artist Geoff Parker.
Embraced by the Impressionist, plein air or open air painting attempts to capture the immediacy and spirit of a location. Plein air artist often select subjects for their natural appeal, quality of light, and compositional life. True to her plein air roots, McCord begins her paintings on site. Notes McCord, “I drive through the Big Horn Basin, Sunlight and Yellowstone. I choose what to paint when I see a moment in time I want to share. When I notice high drama, heavy shadows, appealing color values, or (color) temperatures I stop. I’m a seasonal artist.”
Working in oil – often “wet on wet”, she builds her paintings, laying down fresh, open brushstrokes with an eye to color and light. Relates McCord, “Oil painting is a process of discovery. I really enjoy that process. I take the long road to painting. I try to do it honestly, authentically.” Says fellow artist Geoff Parker, “Vivian’s a wonderful artist. She’s got her own style and knows what she wants to do.”
As generous with her time as she is with her art, she given much to the Cody community. When her children were at Eastside Elementary School, she revitalized the school cafeteria by painting murals. She regularly donates her paintings to organizations for fundraisers. When the Soroptimists, Northwest Family Planning, Crab Crack, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Garret Randolph fundraiser, or Vital Signs with the Cody Medical Foundation – just to mention a few, ask for a donation, McCord charitably obliges with one of her paintings. Remarkably, she’s donated art to many of the same organizations year after year.
For Spirit Mountain Hospice, McCord curated all of the art at the hospice. She asked fellow local artists for their work and personally created original paintings to cover hospital-like control panels in each residential room. Notes McCord about her paintings, “The hospice serves so many people. I wanted everyone to feel like they were in a home, not a hospital. The paintings help to do that.”
What is her favorite painting? In the spirit of plein air, with a confident smile she confides, “My favorite painting is always the last one I finished. I enjoy sharing my art. It makes me happy.” To see her work go to www.VivMcCord.com.
Kirk & Linda Waggoner
“We have found our life of service to be absolutely satisfying.” Kirk and Linda Waggoner. Kirk is a life long Cody native. Linda born in Montana, lived in Powell for several years before moving to Cody. They married 33 years ago, first meeting while volunteering for Park County Search and Rescue.
For the past 25 years, they have worked with Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) in Wyoming. In Park County specifically, Kirk and Linda volunteer as team peers on the Park County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, Linda as team coordinator and Kirk as a law enforcement peer. According to team peer, Clinical Director Theo Riley, “CISM provides intervention for first responders to diminish post-traumatic stress. Responders include individuals ranging from law enforcement dispatchers, EMT’s and highway patrol personnel to family members. Incidents may include deaths of children, multi- casualty accidents, deaths of peers, or other traumatic scenarios. Through a group process, CISM helps first responders stay in jobs or volunteer activities long term without developing post-traumatic stress disorder.”
In the 1990’s, Linda attended a specialized training in Denver from Jeff Mitchell, Ph.D., founder of the CISM model, becoming one of the first volunteers in the newly formed WYOASSIT. Notes Kirk, “First responders can have a history of burn out. Burn out is a result of unmitigated stress. Dealt with properly the stress can be managed. Adds Linda, “After a traumatic event, the functional and emotional elements of a responder have to come back together psychologically so that a responder can feel whole. It’s important to validate their emotional response, give them permission to be human, and reintegrate the emotional piece into their functional lives.”
As volunteers in WYOASSIT and after its disbandment, Linda and Kirk provided intervention services free of charge, traveled to locations throughout Wyoming and Montana, and provided face-to-face sessions with the necessary follow up for individuals to make sure they were all right. Theo Riley commends their service, “When help is needed and someone asks whom can we get to support our responders? Linda and Kirk are often the team that responds. I have seen Linda and Kirk work hundreds of volunteer hours on the telephone or in person to provide support for emergency responders.”
Along with being the first woman in Park County Search and Rescue and volunteering as an interventionist peer and team coordinator, Linda is an interventionist trainer for Wyoming Law Enforcement, an EMT, a wilderness medic, a CPR and First Aid trainer, and canine handler. For the past three years, Linda along Theo Riley have created statewide consistent training for CISM, providing trainings in Pinedale, Saratoga, Rock Springs, Laramie, and Powell. Linda is the contact person in the Cody area, (307) 899-1581.
Kirk, in a addition to being a long time Search and Rescue volunteer and volunteer law enforcement peer, was Deputy Sheriff in Park County from 1972 until 2010, a photography instructor for the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, volunteer firefighter for thirteen years, and a Cody Fire Chief.
Fortunately for the Cody community, Kirk and Linda’s shared passion for volunteering in emergency situations created quality trainings for first responders and helped people in need to have confidence regardless of their situation. They also share a love of spending summers on their boat at Yellowstone Lake – where they still field emergency calls from rangers all summer long!
“It’s still true. Certain experiences of our youth really do inform the way we live as adults.” Kate Williams
Kate’s earliest memories are of being chased by her brothers at Grizzly Peak, now Red Lodge Mountain. Reminisces Kate, “Red Lodge in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s was what Sleeping Giant is today; one, big, happy neighborhood where kids of all ages learned to ski and hang out with their families and friends.”
Says Kate, “Skiing has enriched my life. I’ve been able to ski in the US and around the world, meeting wonderful folks who share my love of this incredible sport. In the winter outdoors, we breathe in fresh cold air, summon our courage, encourage inclusiveness, and overcome our fears while stepping up to the challenges ahead. Making a difference in someone else’s life, that’s what comprises my personal joy of skiing.”
Kate comes from a creative musical family. Her mother played the piano and her dad sang roles in the Billings community. She sang in the church choir, played the violin in school orchestras, and remembers “delighting in piano duets with friends and the occasional brother”. Recalls Kate, “During my early elementary school years, I was fortunate to learn classical Russian ballet from the best in Billings, Hungarian refugees Angela and Ildiko Perjussy. Strict like we’d never known, this mother-daughter duo drilled classical la danse discipline all the while speaking French. We were regularly tested!”
She and her husband Ted, of 34 years, have lived in Cody and Wapiti twice. Recalls Kate fondly, “These sophisticated communities at the foot of the Absaroka Beartooth mountains offered me absolutely glittering opportunities to engage with stellar citizenry. And, during my happiest years of raising our two young children, the staff at Wapiti School encouraged parents to get involved and impart their knowledge.”
At Sleeping Giant she taught the love of skiing. Reminisces Kate, “I helped kids form their skis into “pizzas” and “French fries”, master the t-bar – while keeping all their teeth intact, and to conquer Bobby’s Headwall. It was on the bus ride home that my heart grew to its fullest. I saw rosy cheeked kids aglow with their individual accomplishments contentedly snoozing all the way back to the school parking lot. Those were gloriously happy family days as a Wapiti School parent! Laisser les bon temps rouler!”
Says Kate, “When I was invited to join the board of Yellowstone Recreations Foundation – doing business as Sleeping Giant Ski Area, wild grizzlies couldn’t keep me away.” With her inimitable community joie de vivre, love of fitness, dance, music, and people she lead a group of danceX’ers every morning at the Presbyterian Church. Noting with pride, “It’s been a privilege!” They faithfully met six days a week, first rock n’rollin to the likes of Katie Perry, Maroon Five, Adele, and Springsteen before cooling down with yoga and stretching to choral tracks.
In Kate’s words, “It is my pleasure to be honored for having engaged in meaningful volunteer work in Cody. It takes a village to make everything good happen around here, so my hat is off to all the rest of you who work hard to make Cody the great place it is and always will be. Namaste.”
(pictured in her photo left to right: Mary Bingley, Val Walsh-Haines, Kate Williams, Linda Dowd, and Jan Eldredge)
Images and articles by Cindy Bennett