BY KAREN BOSSICK
Wendy Collins became a mailbox minister in 1967 during the height of the Vietnam War for personal reasons.
“I had two little boys and didn’t want them to get drafted because Vietnam was so horrible. I thought if I should show we had a conscientious objector in our family, I could protect them from the draft,” she said, adding that the boys were free to enlist if they so choose.
That ministerial license bought through the mail eventually grew into a full-fledged ordained minister’s license and a full-time passion for Collins.
She has married countless couples, conducted Sunday services for the Wood River Spiritual Center for seven years and even officiated over the annual Blessing of the Animals. Now 70, she’s still doesn’t hesitate when someone calls in the middle of the night and needs an ear to confide to.
“I call it ministerial sharing—and it involves lots of coffee. If anyone needs anything I’m available to meet for coffee,” she said.
“She’s a very kind, generous and spiritual woman—she doesn’t even charge for funerals,” said her husband Billy Collins. “And she’s too modest to tell you but, at one time, she was even the Idaho State Women’s Champion in Cowboy Action Shooting.”
Collins’ self-sacrificing ways earned her the admiration of members of the Ketchum/Sun Valley historical Society, who nominated her for this year’s Blaine County Heritage Court. She and three other women will be honored for their contributions to the Wood River Valley in a ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Wendy and her husband Billy, whom she met on a daily hour-long school bus commute when they were both 14, moved from California to Sun Valley in 1971 after visiting friends who’d moved here.
“They took us to Galena and we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. We returned to check it out in August and never went back. We loved the small tight community, the fact that people cared about each other,” she said.
The average age then was about 27, Wendy reflects. There was no mountain biking, but everyone did a lot of camping and fishing at places like Mackay. Billy pursued work as a carpenter; she was a T-shirt tailor for Sturtevants before opening a sewing shop and herb company in the little building in front of Grumpy’s.
Her true love, however, was horses—a love she’d had since her parents gave her a horse as a child. She learned how to use touch, movement and body language to communicate what she wanted to animals from TTouch Trainer Linda Tellington-Jones.
She parlayed that into an animal hospice she formed with Sheila Summers and Andria Friesen to help people dealing with dying pets and work at the former Sagebrush Arena, a therapeutic horse riding program for children and adults with disabilities.
“Horses are so magical because they’re so big and they trust us,” she said. “They could hurt us because they’re so big but they have such a desire to serve. Talk to them in a common language, in a kind way, and you can get them to respond as if they’re your partner.”
Wendy’s years at Sagebrush proved magical, as well. She saw one little boy who had never talked mimicking her after she had continually praised the horse he rode, “Good boy, Jack.” Another boy would talk to his horse, even though he wouldn’t talk to adults.
“It’s cool to see the kids gain confidence as they interact with the horses. Little kids with social issues who have never felt powerful feel powerful on a horse,” she said.
Wendy’s work with animals inevitably led to using Healing Touch with patients at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. She has been certified at Level 5—the highest level there is.
“Studies have shown that gently touching in a prescribed pattern can reduce pain, help people with sleeping. I’ve seen it put someone to sleep who hasn’t slept in a day and a half,” she said.
Margery Friedlander marvels at the bright inquisitive nature and sense of humor Wendy exhibited as the two completed Level 5 training together.
“She’s a darling, generous and caring , a true friend,” Friedlander said. “And she’s a leather worker, along with everything else she does. When my puppy Tova chewed the handles on their both my dogs’ harnesses, she repaired them.”
Wendy believes it is important for older people like herself not to think themselves useless.
“They can contribute so much if they stay involved,” she said.
But she admits she’s in a quandary about how to support young people.
“They have so much pressure about how they should look from advertising and other media when we don’t look like that. When I was young, people worked to help their family. Kids today aren’t called on so much to work to help their family. But they’re deluded to think that if they have money they’re going to be happy,” said Wendy, whose own two sons Billy and Jamie and their families live next door to each other in Hailey.
“Young people today are not being taught life skills, which are so important to function and feel good about themselves. I counsel young people to get a job. Washing dishes may not be what you want to do for a career, but it’s giving you a paycheck that you can use to attend classes or buy a bike so you can get to those classes.”
Wendy and her husband Billy are reaching out to young people as the leaders of a new 4-H group to teach youngsters about shooting and gun safety in an effort to help them carry on age-old family traditions of hunting and shooting.
“We’ve been married 51 years,” said Wendy, whose own parents were married 55 years before her father passed away. “We’ve always done everything together and we still do—right now that means fishing and skeet shooting. The major thing is you don’t ever quit. When you hit a road bump you ask: What can we do different?”
Thoughts from Wendy Collins:
“My mother taught me that God is love. That’s the equation I grew up with.”
“Love is lov-ing. It’s asking, ‘How can I help?’ more often. I can’t fix your stuff but I’ll be happy to do anything I can to support you. That’s why I love this community—the people, the non-profits all are trying to find ways to help others.””
“I’ve learned to see everything as an opportunity, no matter how bad it looks.”
“I have usually learned the most in a downturn because it’s then that we want change. I say: What an opportunity for my personal growth!”
“Each person born is one of a kind. They can be so much if they accept the possibilities of their own mission.”
BY KAREN BOSSICK
Dolly Collier tells the story that so many Wood River Valley residents tell.
She and her husband Lynn spent their honeymoon in Sun Valley skiing. When they returned to show their kids where they’d spent their honeymoon, they fell in love with the area all over again.
They sold their chicken farm next to the then-fledgling Disneyland in Orange County, California, in 1968. And they and a hundred dairy cows moved onto a farm south of Bellevue.
“It was so nice,” said Collier, who had grown up in Hollywood where her Dad was in the butter and egg business. “You could sit by the highway and talk for hours without ever seeing another car.”
Collier has had plenty of opportunities to reminisce about the good ol’ days in the Wood River Valley since the Bellevue Historical Society named her to the Blaine County Heritage Court. She and three other women who have left a mark on the valley over the years will be inducted into the court at 3 p.m. in a ceremony at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
The dairy business was hard work, she said. She and her husband would milk twice a day.
“And the cows would get out at night and we’d have to holler at our four kids to chase them down in the snow,” she added.
Dolly and Lynn sold most of their milk to the now-gone Kraft cheese plant in Carey.
“They picked it up every day,” she said. “We also sold some of the raw milk to the public in gallon jugs. We couldn’t take it off the property, but we had doctors and lawyers—all kinds—come by and get it. That was good ol’ wholesome milk, then.”
As busy as she was, Collier found time to work with 4-H kids raising beef cattle, dairy cows, chickens and sheep. She taught them how to make yogurt, cook with dairy products and decorate cakes, which she gifted to Blaine Manor.
And the youngsters in her charge helped build picnic tables and a picnic shelter at the Blaine County Fairground in Carey.
“It’s still standing so they must’ve done a good job,” said Collier. “I enjoyed working with the kids. My daughter Deborah raised a turkey and had it trained so Tom would follow her. She had every kind of animal to raise there was—it taught her respect for living creatures.”
Dolly and Lynn sold their farm, moving to Bellevue when they retired. The land was dredged for a lake but the farm house still remains.
Lynn died a couple years ago after 64 years of marriage.
Now Dolly spends much of her time sitting on the wrap-around porch of her corner house with its lace curtains and wooden cut-outs of cows.
“I used to know everyone—now I don’t know a soul,” she said. “And now you sit at the corner waiting to get out onto the highway. My, how things have changed.”
Mary Green has lived in the Carey area all over her 77 years, save a stint during high school when she spent a summer working as a maid for Sun Valley and stayed in the resort dorm. “I enjoyed it,” she said. “We could hike on the golf course after work and I liked to sit and watch the people—like Bing Crosby, who was making a show while I was there.”
BY KAREN BOSSICK
Mary Green was born the year the Sun Valley Lodge was built. But she didn’t have to drive the 46 miles from her home near Carey to skate on the iconic ice skating rink that soon emerged outside the lodge.
She grew up skating, instead, on a pond that sat the length of a football field from her family’s farmhouse on the Little Wood River six miles north of Carey.
“We’d skate until my father harvested the ice,” she recalled. “He and the others would saw blocks with a handsaw. Then he’d put the blocks on a sled and a horse would pull them through the snow to an ice house, which was about 20—by-40 feet. My dad would cover the blocks with sawdust to keep them from melting. And in the summer he’s sell ice to the people going into Muldoon since there was no refrigeration then.”
Green was inducted into the Blaine County Heritage Court Sunday afternoon, along with Wendy Collins, Laren Price and Dolly Collier. She was nominated to the court by the Carey Senior Connection for the contributions she’s made to the Wood River Valley during her 77 years—contributions that included 12 years as county clerk, a stint on the committee that helped incorporate Carey as a city, and gigs on the Carey cemetery board and the city’s planning and A Danish accent
Green’s grandfather on her father’s side came to the area from Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1890, settling with his brother near Silver Creek. In time, Albert Albrethsen, who served as state land inspector, county commissioner and county assessor, bought farmland near Carey.
Green’s mother’s side also came from Denmark but settled in Utah. Sybl Justesen met Green’s father Alex when she visited Carey to help her aunt with cooking and household chores one summer.
“We had a good life back then raising cattle and sheep,” said Green, who was delivered by Dr. Fox in the hospital that occupied the building that now hosts the Hailey Public Library. “I helped feed the chickens and the lambs and, as I got older, I’d help bring in the cows and milk them by hand. I’ve got big hands—maybe I got them from milking.”
Carey was bigger then, boasting a barbershop, post office, garage, gas station, grocery and dry goods stores, café, and sports shop where the kids enjoyed milkshakes while the guys played pinochle. The church showed movie shows, such as “Cleopatra,” “The Prisoner of Zenda,” “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca” and “The Grapes of Wrath” on Saturdays.
And the schoolhouse housed 12 grades under one roof, as five one-room schoolhouses were brought in from surrounding environs.
“My older brothers went to school in a horse-drawn bus but, by the time I went, it was a regular school bus. When we got a lot of snow we might be out of school for a week when the roads got shut. We’d just have to wait the storm out. I’d read books and the ‘Farm Journal Magazine,’ which had everything in it, even special pages for kids,” she recalled.
“Everything was a little slower then, which was good. We weren’t always in such a big hurry.”
SUBHEAD Talk about Florida’s dangling chads!
Green’s husband, Donald “Dude” Green, moved from Hagerman to a Carey ranch when he was in third grade. But Mary Green didn’t take note of him until she was in high school since he was a couple years ahead of her in school.
“He liked the outdoors, horse riding, the things I enjoyed doing. So, after I graduated, we got married. We never got farming out of our system, I guess. After he got out of the service, we bought 30 acres about four miles from where I grew up and raised some cattle and sheep. We also raised three daughters and a son. They’re scattered throughout Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Washington, except for our son Kyle, who works with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department.”
Dude worked as a county deputy for 27 years while Mary worked in the recorder’s office for 20 until she retired in 1999.
She recalls taking voter counters outside on the fire escape to cool them off with a damp cloth when they’d overheat.
One time, the counters malfunctioned and she had to take the ballots to Burley to be counted.
“We loaded the ballots in the sheriff’s deputy car and the party representatives went with us to make sure everything was on the up and up,” she said.
When work was done, Green headed outdoors. Marsha Reimann, who succeeded Green as county clerk, recalls fondly a horse trip Mary organized for members of the county clerk’s office in the Muldoon area.
And in 1990 Dude and Mary went on the Centennial Wagon Train ride, which marked Idaho’s hundredth anniversary as the nation’s 43rd state.
They joined the covered wagon odyssey as it came to Prairie, Pine and Featherville, driving over Dollarhide Summit into Ketchum. They then reported back to work while the train went up Trail Creek and through the Copper Basin, rejoining it in Mackay where they followed it along the East Fork of the Salmon River before finishing up in Stanley.
“It was a lot of fun and we met a lot of nice people but it was a lot of hard work since we had to set camp up and take it down each day and feed and harness the mules so we could be on the road by 7:30 in the morning,” she recalled. “And, working with horses, we knew we could always expect some wrecks—and we got them.
“I have so much admiration for the ones who came before us,” she added. “We knew where we were going to be each night. We knew we could get to the doctor if something happened. They didn’t know those things. They had to be strong, sturdy people to go through all they went through.”
Lauren Price has been a Job’s Daughter and an Eastern Star. She played alto saxophone in the school band.
BY KAREN BOSSICK
It would be difficult to find many people whose roots stretch deeper into the Wood River Valley’s soil than Laren Price.
Both sets of great-grandparents came to the Wood River Valley in 1881 as the valley’s mining boomed.
“My dad’s bunch—David and Mary Davies—were from Wales. My great-grandfather worked in the Philadelphia Smelter in Ketchum before moving to Broadford near what is now Bellevue to work for the Queen of the Hills mine,” she said.
“My maternal great grandparents—Frances Ensign and his Dublin-born wife Margaret came to Hailey from Silver City and built a home near Bullion and 3rd Avenue. He was chairman of the Democratic Territorial Central Committee and ran a couple times for Supreme Court justice.”
Neither Price nor her other relatives have strayed far, and on June 23 she will be inducted into the Blaine County Historical Museum Heritage Court—an honor given to women who have devoted a fair chunk of their lives to helping the valley become what it is today.
Price herself was born in Dr. Fox’s hospital in what is now the Hailey Public Library, during World War II.
“We had Dr. Fox and then Dr. Hawk,” she said.
Laren’s father Jack was proprietor of the Palace Club, a Bellevue bar that his father had had. Jack Davies later traded in the bar business for the insurance business.
“My dad was mayor between 1957 and 1965—he got the first commercial airline to operate here…West Coast Airlines,” she said proudly, pointing to a newspaper clipping in a three-inch thick book of family history that her brother John Davies compiled.
When she was a high school sophomore, Laren developed encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain also known as the sleeping sickness, after receiving a penicillin shot.
“It plays with your memory a little. My mom said, ‘Get in the car,’ and I thought: Who’s that lady yelling at me? I later went into convulsions and they had to life-flight me to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise. We don’ know if the penicillin shot caused it or not, but I did have to go through physical therapy, walking in water and learning to walk up the stairs again.”
After studying bookkeeping and accounting at Boise Junior College, Laren married Gary Price, whose parents had a sheep and cattle ranch in Gannett.
“He was always on time for school even though he rode the bus from Gannett. I lived a half block from the school but I and my brother John were always late because we’d wait for the bell to ring and then run as fast as we could. “
Gary worked as an electrician at Sun Valley Resort, Alpenrose and Pink’s Electric while Laren did books for Dr. Robinson’s Souvenir Shop, Adamson’s Tire, Texaco and Wood River Mercantile.
“When I worked at Texaco, my memory got real good at license plates—I knew everybody in town by their license plate,” she said.
A lifelong member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church Laren received the Bishop’s Cross for keeping the church’s books and volunteering at its thrift store.
“My mother and father ran the store in the winter; we took it over in summer. It used to house the Hailey library; before that, the assayer’s office,” she said. “As for the church, I love the beautiful stained glass windows in that church—it’s always been such a friendly church.”
When a friend’s wife got cancer, the Prices became early supporters of the Hospice of the Wood River Valley. While Gary delivered Meals on Wheels, Laren helped in the kitchen at the Senior Connection.you feel good—when you help people,” she said.
Today the couple, who have three children, live in a quiet neighborhood in Hailey just a couple blocks down the street from the place where Laren was born. She had to quit biking last year because of knee replacements. But she still makes beef, potato and corn chowder soups and her prized cinnamon rolls loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts.
“My mother made them all the time,” she said. “And you can’t find a cinnamon rolls that’s good—you have to make them.”
Her pride and joy is a calico cat who is always having run-ins with the magpies that torment it. And hummingbirds.
“I used to have a whole bunch of them—they used to bite each other to get to the feeder. Then other people started putting out hummingbird feeders so now I just have one. Every time someone gets me a gift it’s something to do with hummingbirds,” she said, glancing around a home that includes hummingbird cards, a hummingbird chart and various hummingbird decorations.
“They’re just so beautiful. I could watch them forever.”
Editor’s note: Laren Price will be inducted into the Heritage Court during a coronation ceremony involving entertainment at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey. She was nominated by the Hailey Chamber of Commerce.
Dolly Collier, Mary Green and Wendy Collins will be inducted along with her.