Each year the Cody Medical Foundation recognizes volunteers in our community for their outstanding service. Congratulations to the 2016 honorees:  Vivian McCord, Kirk & Linda Waggoner, and Kate Williams.

Vivian McCord

“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.”Vivian McCord_Marty

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.”Photo, courtesy of the Cody Enterprise.

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!

Kate Williams

“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.”

Kate and Friends_MartySays 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