MONTE VISTA-The staff at Tri-County Senior Citizens Center teamed up with the family and friends of Catherine Woods Tuesday, May 12, to wish her a Happy 100th Birthday. Woods stated she believed this was the first surprise party in her 100 birthdays; and was treated to cards, flowers, cake and gifts along with a socially distant luncheon with her friends at Tri-County.
After lunch, more friends along with the Monte Vista Fire Department, Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office and the Monte Vista Police Department held a drive-by parade down Third Street, so Woods could watch safely from her balcony on the third floor of the Tri-County building.
Woods was born in Del Norte and has lived in the San Luis Valley most of her life. She fondly recalled growing up with her twin brother and the man who would eventually become her husband, Dr. Richard Woods, a local veterinarian, saying, “We spent our whole lives together.” She graduated in Monte Vista in 1938, and attended Lindenwood College, an all-girls school in St. Charles, Missouri (now Lindenwood University), for two years before attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins where she received a major in Home Economics. Woods had the distinction of being named Miss Stampede in 1943 before she went to teach Home Economics and painting at Camp Amache - a Japanese Internment Camp near Granada, Colorado.
Woods raised Quarter horses with Dr. Woods and also raised four children. She was an accomplished china painter and her work was featured on the cover of numerous publications multiple times, including The World Organization of China Painters, although when asked she downplayed her fame in the genre. Since moving to Tri-County, she was unable to have the equipment needed to continue china painting and took up acrylic painting with some of her works featured in the Tri-County center building. She takes great pride in her 14 years driving for Meals on Wheels until 1997 and continued volunteering for them until December 2019 when she fell and broke her hip - an injury she has since recovered from.
Her daughter Gwyn Frison, of Texas, was in attendance at her party. Her son Rich also lives part-time in Del Norte and part-time in New Jersey. Woods now has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Woods has been very adaptable with the current COVID-19 crisis, with her and her daughter Gwyn happily describing their Mother’s Day breakfast eating in the car in the parking lot at IHOP in Alamosa. Woods thanked her friends many times for the surprises and extended her appreciation for the celebrations.