Therese McElroy to be named Kremmling Citizen of the Year
April 12, 2009
An infectious smile, a ready laugh, willing hands and a loving heart characterize Therese McElroy, this years West Grand Community Educational Foundations Citizen of the Year.McElroy will be honored at the foundations annual banquet at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, at West Grand High School in Kremmling.People are often described as glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kinds of people. Spending time with Therese can make even glass-half-full people seem dour in comparison.Coupled with that cheerful nature is a compassion that has suited her well throughout her career as a nurse.In eighth grade, Therese was involved in an incident that helped her decide what she wanted to do for a vocation. Her brother Dan fell off of a horse and cut his knee badly enough that it was obvious he needed medical attention.Therese, who was 13-years-old at the time, put her brother in a Jeep and drove him to the hospital. When they arrived, she told Doc Ceriani that she would take care of her brother Dan.That was the day, McElroy says, I decided I wanted to be a nurse.Growing up in Kremmling on a ranch was a wonderful time, Therese says.Most of us kids were raised on ranches, she says, and we had so much fun doing things like going on sleigh rides and ice skating.Those were good times.Deep local rootsThereses parents were Joe and Isabel McElroy. She started her life on a ranch on Pass Creek, north of Kremmling. At the age of 4, sheand her family moved to the outskirts of town to a ranch that is still owned by the family. The house in which the family grew up is now the Treehouse Bed & Breakfast that is owned and operated by Therese.After high school, Therese was accepted into the St. Josephs School of Nursing. It wasnt until after she was accepted that she told her parents about her plans.At St. Josephs, the method of teaching at the time was to attend classes in the morning and then work in the hospital, putting into practice the lessons they learned in the classroom. During her time at school, she was chosen to serve as the president of the student body.A recent thrill for Therese was when she was able to use her bed and breakfast last September to host a 45-year reunion for 21 of her former classmates from St. Josephs. It was a wonderful and cathartic weekend, she said, as the individuals shared their lifes experiences.In 1976, Therese came home to Kremmling Memorial Hospital, where sheworked in the surgical department. In 1978, she was hired as a school nurse for the West Grand School District.More learningWishing to continue her education, in 1985, Therese earned a bachelors degree in psychology. Paul Reese, who was the elementary school principal at the time, was her mentor for that program. For six years, she got up at 4 a.m. to study for that degree.McElroy moved to Grand Junction in 1989 and stayed there for a few years before coming back to again serve the community in which she was raised.After working for the Grand County Public Health department for a few years, she was rehired to work in the West Grand School District as the school nurse.In 1999, McElroy was named the Outstanding School Nurse in the state of Colorado. She helped to start the Coordinated School Health Grant in conjunction with the East Grand and Hayden school districts. She still works in the school district as the school nurse on a part-time basis.Her emphasis over the past few years has been the promotion of healthylifestyles for students and staff members at the school district.Programs she has helped to start and coordinate include the annual staff physical fitness tune-up, a smoking-cessation class for high school students and education regarding the dangers of sun bathing and tanning beds.Involved in communityMcElroy has a lengthy history of community involvement. In the late 1980s, she helped to start a teen center in Kremmling. That center enjoyed early success and lasted for about four years. It was a place for high school kids to meet and hang out. It included an ice cream machine and there was always plenty of pizza, according to Therese.She also worked with an organization called Grand County Resources for Youth and was part of the Domestic Violence Sexual Abuse Prevention task force. That abuse prevention initiative involved educating young children about how to identify appropriate adult behavior and how to say no to inappropriate conduct.McElroy has also been involved with the Grand County Historical Association. She organized the Cow Pasture Golf Classic in Kremmling, a popular event that raised money for GCHA. She is currently working with the historical association on the preservation board, which is dedicated to saving older buildings within the county.She is also the president of the Kremmling Union High School/West Grand High School Alumni Association, which hosts annual high school reunions during the Kremmling Days celebration in June. McElroy is also the secretary of the Middle Park Medical Foundation.She is also well known for the CPR and First Aid certification classes that she conducts for individuals, businesses and government entities.When asked about her level of involvement in the community, Therese said that she enjoys giving to the community. It is a good thing godo, she added.More familyTherese has three children, Mike Zocholl, who lives in California, Laura, who lives in Kremmling with her husband Chad Gore and their three sons, and Kathy, who lives in Kremmling with her husband Jeff Matney, a son and two daughters.Enjoying her children and grandchildren is at the top of her priority list.The bed and breakfast in Kremmling has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. The venture has been more about preserving a part of her familys history and sharing that with family members and friends.It shouldnt be a surprise that the visitors who stay at the bed and breakfast often become part of Thereses extended family.When her father built a new house for he and his wife, he told Therese he wanted her to have the house where she was raised. Being able to restore the house and utilize it as a bed and breakfast has been a gratifying experience for the Kremmling native.