Kathryn R. Burke

Uncommon Women, Uncommon Lives

For the past few years, I’ve been interviewing local women who met this criteria: Uncommon Women, Uncommon Lives.  Most of these interviews appeared in various publications. Many were also publicity for presentations which I helped them prepare. You will also find many of these stories on the Featured Articles or Interviews pages. Here are some of my favorite stories.  Although much of my writing is from a ‘green light marketing’ standpoint, these interviews are done for personal enjoyment – both mine and the reader’s.

The interviewees below are loosely aligned alphabetically by last name. Within the groups placed under each letter, you will find those folks whose last name begins with that letter. But I did not place them in exact alpha order within the group. It’s more fun to hunt a little, and too much structure gives me a headache.

  – A –

Marian Austin,

After retiring from the Army and moving to Log Hill, near Ridgway, Colo, both Marian and her husband, Tom, became volunteer firefighters. [Story]

  – B –

Alice Billings, artist,
author, horsewoman

Combining her life-long interest in art and horses, Alice offers both at her Thunder Heart Haven, with retreats, workshops, art classes, and more. Alice is the author of Hooey, featuring her colorful horse portraits. Both Hooey and her artwork are available her publisher, San Juan Publishing. Read more about her here:
• Alice the Artist.  • Alice the Horselady.

Jane Bennett,
author, storyteller

Now living in Australia, where she continues her career as a storyteller, entertainer, and musician, Jane’s focus is western history. She is the author of (Tales of the Bachelor Mine and is currently working on a new book contrasting Australian and Colorado mining. Her publisher Kathryn R. Burke, San Juan Publishing.

Jen Brock,

Hobbyist Bee Keeper, Jen Brock, currently resides in Ouray, Colo. and keeps hives there and in her home state of Texas. Learn more about honey bees, their habits, industry. history and importance to us as producers of the worlds most stable food. [Story]

 – C-D –

Joan Chismire,
Museum Director

Joan Chismire is the board president and director of the Ouray County Ranch History Museum. Chismire discusses the new location for OCRHM, how it came to be and what it offers. [Story]

Lorraine Coyle,
Evergreen Crystal

She designs for clients like Dole Pineapple, Exon, Cabellas, Sea World, and even the Senate and the White House. Designs are hand-drawn and etched. [Story]

 – E-F –

Jan Einboden, Jab’s Auto

Jan’s Auto is almost a household word in the Montrose area. You see one of her plates on more than half the cars you pass on the road or parked in a lot or around your neighborhood. [Story]

 – G –

Beth Goralski, ice climber

Beth competes in Ouray Icefest, climbed in Iceland with U.S. alpinist for Patagonia, and competed in World Cup at Bozeman Ice Festival, Montana. [Story]

 – H -I –

Susan Hale & Ann Mellick, CAIC Avalanche Forecasters

These women work the Highway 550 and 145 corridors in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep the highways safe for winter travelers. [Story]

Tracy Hill, Hall of Famer

Tracy made Colorado basketball history while playing for Ridgway High School. She was top scorer between 1980 and 1983 and record still stands. Hill was  named to the National High School Hall of Fame. [Story]

Sue Hirshman, birder

Nationally acclaimed birder, Sue Hirshman, has observed and photographed the elusive Black Swift in Box Canyon for nearly 20 years. These amazing birds migrate annually nearly 4300 miles to Brazil, then return to breed in Ouray, Colo. [Story]

Coleen Hollenbeck, coroner

Now in her second term, Colleen Hollenbeck needs compassion, curiosity, and courage to manage her job as Ouray County Coroner. [Story]

Connie Hunt, city administrator

Ouray County Adminisrator, Connie Hunt wears many hats. She handles finance, budgeting, grant writing, policy administration, long-range planning, and supervision of nine different departments. [Story]

 – J-K –

Melanie Kline, helping veterans

Melanie Kline, who is also an internationally famous jeweler,  is the founder of the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans and the Warrior Resource Center, both in Montrose Colorado, and dedicated to helping local area veterans. [Story]

Tamara Knutsen, building inspector

Tamara Knutson is the Ouray County Building Inspector. She worked for her father’s remodeling firm as a project manager, then formed her own company in 1991. She spent 10 years as a licenced appraiser before joining Ouray County.[Story]

 – L –

Rosemary Litz,
‘All About Lavender’

Charter member of the Lavender Association of Western Colorado, Litz is a grower and entrepreneur creating and selling hand-crafted lavender products under the label ‘All About Lavender.’ [Story]

Susan Long, fairgrounds & event center Mgr.

As Manager of Ouray County Fairgrounds and Event Center, Long, now retired,  was instrumental in developing existing events into larger venues and bringing in many new ones. [Story]

 – M –

Ann Mellick & Susan Hale, CAIC Avalanche Forecasters

These women work the Highway 550 and 145 corridors in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep the highways safe for winter travelers. [Story]

Brenda Miller, Director and Licensed Wildlife Rehabiliator

Miller operates Roubideau Rim Wildlife Rescue, Colorado Western Slope’s only wildlife rehab facility. RRWR is a 501c3 non profit organization licensed by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Her goal is to “release these creatures back into their appropriate habitats” in western Colorado. [Story]

 -N-O –

Sharon Nevelle, executive producer

Working for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), which is a premier association for financial planners, Sharon  business theater live events, which included video, as well as lining up motivational speakers and event venues around the world. [Story]

Maureen O’Driscoll, library director

Maureen is theDirector of the Ouray Public Library. Her educational, technical, and working background that can help patrons improve and enjoy their reading experience. Before moving to Ouray, she lived and worked Washington DC, where she was involved in public relations and business writing. [Story]

 -P-Q-R –

Gia Porter, triathlete

Gia Porter, who is also the owner of Indulgence Salon in Montrose, Colo. collects Finisher Ribbons. Her favorite ‘tri’s are the ones that give the best medals. Her biggest accomplishment to date, is having finished in Ironman events, world-class triathalons. [Story]

Yvone Reed, African wildlife conservation

Born in South Africa, and with a lifetime interest in wildlife conservation, Reed’s goal is to help raise money to support South African wildlife artists whose work promotes African wildlife conservation. She does this through her business, Bush Babies of Africa: Wildlife Art.  [Story]  (Of all the interviews I’ve done, this one is definitely near the top of my list.

 -S –

Kathy See,
native plant coordinator

Kathy See works as a liaison with land management agencies and other organizations involved in land rehabilitation and restoration. She is the Native Plant Coordinator for the Uncompahgre Partnership. Kathy finds and collects wild seeds for genetic preservation. [Story]

Katie Sickles
Ouray City Administrator

Former City Administrator for Delta, Colo., Katie Sickles is familiar with the infrastructure issues facing small towns in Western Colorado. She’s a natural fit for the job. [Story]

Liana Schmidt, architect
Silver Mountain Designs

Liana was born in Argentina and studied architecture there. She has a unique sense of design for high mountain country. She lives in —and works from— Ridgway, Colorado, ‘Gateway to the San Juans.’ [Story]

Erin Stadelman
Ouray County Fairgrounds & Event Center Manager

Erin went from a California beach kid who loved horses to living in the mountains and riding them… and married to a cowboy. “Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for,” she says. Today she rodeos and runs the fairgrounds and event center. [Story]

Ruth Stewart
Paramedic, Mountain Rescue

She’s a paramedic with  with Ouray County Emergency Medical Services and member of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team. Whatever you call her, whenever you call her, Ruth Stewart is definitely the woman you want when you have an emergency. She’s had some amazing adventures! [Story]

Tammy Stroup
Ridgway Marshall

Tammy grew up on a sheet farm near Montrose Colo., then moved to Colorado’s ‘front range’ where she became involved in law enforcement. She returned to Montrose and served as an investigator with the District Attorney’s office in the 7th Judicial District (San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, Hinsdale, and Gunnison counties). Today she is a town marshall.  [Story]

 -T-U-V –

Winifred Tappan

Wini was a late bloomer. Got her masters degree at 55 and began a teaching career. Wrote her first book at 87. And now, at 93, she’s working on her fourth! What an inspiring lady.  [Story]

U Valley Vixens
Roller Derby

Roller Derby is an international contact sport dominated by all-female amateur teams. Montrose, Colo. home town Derby Girls, the U Valley Vixens (UVV), is one of six teams in western Colorado, and they’re already competing in a lot of events. [Story]

Julia Vann
quantatative public health

Julia is a student on full scholarhsip at Amherst in Mass., where she is a math major. Her interest in studying about disease and finding cures began in middle and senior high school, but rather than going into medicine and treating disease, she’s more interested in helping find causes and cures. [Story]

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