‘Just something I love to do’
VAIL ” In 1965, Vail made a serendipitous choice for the site of its new clinic.
The clinic that would grow to become the Vail Valley Medical Center was built across the street from the home of Cathie Douglas, who would become one of its most dedicated, longest-serving volunteers.
Gov. Bill Owens honored Douglas last week for her service at the hospital. Owens hosted a reception for about 20 winners of the “Governor’s Colorado Cares Volunteer Service Award” at his home in Denver.
Douglas, 85, has volunteered for the hospital for 25 years.
“It’s just something I love to do,” she said.
She volunteers at the information desk and in the emergency room. At the desk, she directs patients and visitors to the right places. In the emergency room, she does everything from greeting patients to changing linens.
“I guess it was the fact I wanted to be a nurse but my mother wouldn’t let me,” she said. “I couldn’t have passed the chemistry test anyway.”
A dedicated gardener, she also tends to the hospitals’ flowers.
Douglas, a native of Birmingham, Mich., has a long history of volunteerism. When she was still in high school, she volunteered at the Michigan’s Children Hospital. She later served as a nurse’s assistant during World War II.
She raised two children and has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Looking up at Vail Mountain from her living room, she remembered her first trip to Vail, during its first season.
“We were on our way back from Alta, and a friend insisted that we ski Vail,” she said. “We fell in love with Riva Ridge and the powder.”
She and her husband bought a lot on Gore Creek in 1963 and built a house. She fondly recalled early days of Vail ” there were just a few buildings in town, you knew everyone at Mid-Vail, and Roger Staub freely gave ski lessons. The Douglases became full-time residents in 1982.
Douglas is spry in her step and on her skis. She still races competitively. Injuries have hampered her skiing over the past few years ” “I blew my knees, as the kids say” ” but she still got in 20 days last year.
For many years, she traveled around the country to race competitively. She loved the downhill but has given it up, sticking now to giant slalom and slalom.
She still golfs, too, and plays bridge and gardens and volunteers at the Vail chapel. And she has no intention of curtailing her volunteering anytime soon.
“Not until God decides it’s too much for the old lady,” she said.
As for the governor, she was impressed.
“I couldn’t get over how nice he was,” she said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.
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