Strong, positive, youthful, and articulate; these are just a few adjectives used to describe Katherine, a long-time resident of Francis Heights in Denver. At 87-years old, she doesn’t dwell on mistakes or challenges she has faced in the past. Instead, she chooses to be happy every day and is grateful for her friendships, family, and the Mercy Housing community she calls home.
Katherine grew up in a small farming community near La Junta, Colorado, with her parents and sister. She was drawn to the opportunities of a big city and soon after high school, moved to Denver where she held a variety of different jobs before joining the Air Force. Katherine was stationed at Mitchel Field in Long Island, NY, and served from 1950-1951 before returning home.
However, her homecoming didn’t prove to be the welcome she had hoped for and only four months after returning, Katherine was diagnosed with polio. The illness left her unable to walk and totally dependent on her family for care. Katherine was strong, and although her recovery would take almost two years, she regained her ability to walk. Polio had left her completely debilitated and reliant on others, but it also showed her something about herself.
“It taught me that nothing can get me down!”
Now, with nothing standing in her way, Katherine moved again. This time to the West Coast. Portland, OR would become her home for the next couple of decades, moving her sister and parents out as well. Katherine worked her way up in the shipping industry and became one of the first female corporate executives in the industry. As Vice President of TMX Shipping and president of the Women’s Shipping Club, Katherine wanted to ensure women had a place in the corporate world.
“I helped women understand their self-worth and fight the system.”
In 1998, after the passing of both her parents and her sister, Katherine moved back to Colorado to be closer to her family. With much of her savings gone due to several surgeries required to combat Crohn’s Disease, Katherine looked for a place that would give her the independence she wanted, but also a place that was safe and secure.
Mercy Housing was that place! With a secure building, friendly staff, great neighbors, and lots of social activities available, Katherine feels safe and encouraged to live independently.
Katherine’s lively presence doesn’t go unnoticed either. Katie, the Resident Services Coordinator at Francis Heights, says, “I’ve always admired Katherine because of her strength. She takes life as it comes, every day, smiles and laughs.”
Today, you might find Katherine shopping with friends from church, enjoying lunch at her favorite Mexican restaurant, or just simply enjoying the view of the city from her apartment. Katherine is making her own decisions living independently while feeling like she is finally home.
“If you want to be secure in your old age, find a place at Mercy Housing and use the services. I’ve got everything I need. It’s a great supporting community that is helpful and concerned about taking care of each other.”