Dorothy Ann Outzs: Hailey Girl and World Traveler
Story by Karen Bossick
Dorothy Ann Outzs still lives in the house in which she was born 92 years ago, a home filled with mementos from traveling and bicycle touring.
Then, she says, the Third Avenue house in Hailey was just “a shack” that was scarcely bigger than today’s living room.
While Outzs has lost much of her sight to age-related macular degeneration, her memory remains sharp. Her grandparents were of Irish descent and moved to the West to seek their riches in America’s gold and silver mines. Her father Les Outzs, who grew up in Cleveland and drove an ammunition truck in France during World War I, served as Blaine County sheriff between 1940 and 1960, and her mother Mary helped found the county historical museum in 1964.
The Blaine County Heritage Court named her to its court honoring women for their role in building the Wood River Valley. Outzs was crowned during a coronation ceremony last week, along with Vivian Bobbitt, Joyce Edwards and Elizabeth “Betts” Simon.
Outzs has been here long enough to recall a different way of life.
She remembers, for instance, when sled dogs raced up Hailey’s Main Street amidst 6-foot snow piles. “Everyone put the cars away during the winter and that was our way of getting people to come to town,” said Outzs, whose home movies of the dog sledding can be seen at the county historical museum and at the Hailey Welcome Center.
“My dad had a dog team. He worked for Maj. James McDonald, who built the house that is now the Ellsworth Inn, Hailey’s bed and breakfast. Mr. McDonald had cabins at Pettit Lake where he stayed one winter and he asked my dad to train a dog team so if he needed something my dad could bring it.
“Dad would start at Ketchum, stay overnight at Galena in one of Mrs. Barber’s cabins, then walk up and over Galena Summit with the dogs following him into Pettit.”
Dorothy Ann Outzs had a horse which she rode down Hailey’s streets and into the canyons radiating from the town.
“I remember going to what is now called Hop Porter Park and seeing Indians camped there to fish. I traded one Indian woman the skin of a mountain goat my father had shot for a pair of buck skin gloves.”
One of her father’s primary duties as sheriff, she says, was to keep out the unsavory characters who were attracted to Ketchum’s gambling.
“He’d tell them: ‘Better go out and keep on traveling. We don’t want you here,’ ” she recalled.
After earning her master’s in physical education and health from the University of Oregon, the 1940 Hailey High School graduate taught in Bellevue, Wash., for 31 years. When she retired, she spent much of the next ten years traveling with friends. She skied, hiked, and biked her way through Europe, China, and Japan. Even before retiring, “traveling was my life. As a teacher, I had no responsibilities in summer so every summer someone would plan a trip and I’d go along,” she said. “It taught me to be aware of the world.”
She followed the Lewis and Clark route from St. Louis to Oregon on her bike. She hiked the ruins of Machu Picchu and eyeballed what ended up being the last tortoise in existence on the Galapagos Islands.
She kayaked through the San Juan Islands and paddled among the grey whales in Baja and the orca whales swimming off the coast of Vancouver Island.
While doing all this traveling, she frequently visited her mother in Hailey. She finally returned to Hailey in 1990 to be with her mother, who was then 90 and ailing.
Her extensive experience in the world gave her perspective. “I was for it when they reintroduced wolves here. We need wolves for balance. People wonder why we’ve lost the salmon. Part of it is that elk have eaten the vegetation along the rivers and it’s too hot for the fish. I’d hate to think something is last—no one thought there would ever be that last tortoise. I think we should have room for everybody.”
While she can see off to the side and the outline of people in front of her, Outzs no longer cooks because of her limited vision. She takes her lunches at the Senior Connection and dinners at Souper Supper.
She attends the Over 60 and Getting Fit class at College of Southern Idaho in the Community Campus three days a week.
“I’m impressed by her determination,” said Lois Heagle, who drives her to Souper Supper. “In winter she takes the bus to and from exercise class. And she wouldn’t think of not going to Souper Super!”
Betts Simon: Living the Classic Sun Valley Life
Story by Karen Bossick
Elizabeth “Betts” Simon is the granddaughter of the man who founded the Nash automobile in 1917.
She attended school with child star Shirley Temple.
And she has carved out a “classic Sun Valley life” for herself that included playing golf with the late Gretchen Fraser, America’s first Olympic alpine ski medalist.
Born in Wisconsin, Simon grew up in the shadow of the Detroit automobile business thanks to her grandfather Charles W. Nash and her father, who worked for Chrysler.
Cars, though a novelty for many Americans, were nothing special for her, she said, since they were such a familiar part of her life.
When her grandfather moved to Beverly Hills, her family followed and there she attended school with Shirley Temple.
“She was very nice, but we didn’t see a lot of her—she was a busy gal,” Simon recalled.
Staying true to her Detroit heritage, Simon married a man who was an electrical engineer for the automobile industry. When he passed away in 1964, she married one of her husband’s good friends—Mitchell Simon–also an engineer for the car industry.
Simon first came to Sun Valley in 1950 with friends. “I skied every day for a month and loved it,” she said. “[Sun Valley Ski Instructor] Sigi Engl talked us into coming back in summer—it was considerably more quiet—there weren’t as many people here then—but we loved it just as well.”
In 1967 Simon and her husband built the second home on Fairway Road in Sun Valley—the first was a spec home locals called “the church house” because of its steeple.
She and her husband Mitchell Simon thought it would be a great place to raise the children in their blended family, Simon recalled.
Here, Simon and her friends frequented the Duchin Room, which then was where Gretchen’s Restaurant now is in the Sun Valley Lodge.
“At that time, there weren’t a lot of places to go in Ketchum and the music and dancing in the Duchin Room was pretty fun,” she said.
During the day Simon played many a hole on Sun Valley’s Trail Creek course.
“I love the lay of the land, the trees, the river running through it,” she said. “And, of course, the weather is always so good with lots of sunshine and no clouds.”
Simon spends from May to November and the Christmas holidays at her spacious home in Gimlet, where ornamental birdhouses sit on counters and statuesque deer stand outside, occasionally rubbing noses with the real thing.
She has given generously to the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, which nominated her to the Blaine County Heritage Court. She’s also active in the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Wood River Land Trust, Idaho Conservation League and the Sun Valley Ski Club.
Her four children and their children, including Bellevue horse owners Skip and Tami Kammer, also keep her busy.
“After 64 years here I still love the mountains the camaraderie and the peacefulness,” she said. .
Joyce Edwards: An ATV-riding Grandma from Carey
By Karen Bossick
Joyce Edwards has eclipsed 70. But that hasn’t stopped her from standing in front of 18 fellow seniors and showing them how to exercise their arms by holding a rubber band with one hand and pulling back on it with the other as if it were a bow.
Over the next hour she leads the seniors, including a 94-year-old woman, through a variety of exercises including lifting two-pound rubber balls filled with sand.
“It started four years ago after I was rear-ended in Bellevue,” said the Carey woman. “It broke the frame of my 1951 pickup and popped the rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I joined a class similar to this at the Hailey Senior Center for therapy. And, when they asked if anyone was interested in teaching a group in Carey, I said, ‘Yeah, I will.’ ”
Edwards has never gone to college for a teaching degree. But she’s spent a lifetime teaching youngsters—and now adults—everything from how to handle snowmobiles to how to raise pigs.
That prompted the Carey Economic Revitalization Group to nominate her for this year’s Blaine County Museum Heritage Court, which recognizes women for their contributions to the Wood River Valley.
Edwards, Vivian Bobbitt, Joyce Edwards and Elizabeth “Betts” Simon were inducted into the court Sunday afternoon during a coronation ceremony at the Liberty Theatre.
Raised in Twin Falls, Edwards moved to Carey when she married .She helped irrigate, run threshers and bale hay on the farm, in addition to keeping the books for the Picabo store and Wood River Drilling and Pump.
She and her husband raised three daughters, including a Seattle hairdresser and an Oregon rancher. Her daughter Linda Hansen is married to a farmer who lives right around the corner.
Edwards’ career as volunteer teacher started when she began driving her children and their friends from Carey to the Hiawatha Hotel in Hailey where she taught them to swim. When her entourage grew to 60, she chartered a bus to carry the kids and the Moms who helped watch them.
“We started at 8 in the morning when they drained the pool for the little 4- and 5-year-olds,” said Edwards, a competitive diver and synchronized swimmer during high school. “When the Hiawatha burned down in 1979 we moved to Clarendon Hot Springs—that was a good-sized pool with wooden dressing rooms on both sides. I even got certified to teach life saving—I had a 300-pound instructor try his best to drown me. The idea is do not try to save someone if you’re not an expert swimmer because they will drown you.”
Edwards tried to get a pool built in Carey with a grant she secured and money from the snow machine fund. But townspeople built a tennis court, instead.
“The kids here need a pool so bad,” she lamented.
When winter closed the pools, Edwards rallied parents to help her teach youngsters about snowmobiling. They rode from Smiley Creek to Stanley and around West Yellowstone, with the kids documenting what they’d done for 4-H projects.
Edwards also taught cooking, sewing and bicycling for 4H. Not too long ago, she organized a swine-raising club.
“I taught 4-H for34 years. My husband Larry and I became interested in showing pigs when our grandson decided he liked them. We’ve shown them in all kinds of shows around the area. They’re small and easy to handle,” she said.
Edwards and her husband helped form the Southern Idaho Draft Horse and Mule Association in 1991. Their prize-winning Belgians draft horses have pulled wagons in Wagon Days since 1991.
Last year Edwards’ 22-year-old granddaughter Shelby Hansen drove the wagon in the parade.
“We have quarter horses to ride, but pulling horses are good for feeding cattle in winter when the snow’s so deep you can’t get tractors around,” she said. “I clean them and groom them. It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding when we see our beautiful horses all dressed up and prancing down the streets.”
Vivian Bobbitt: Horse Woman and “Zoo Keeper”
Story by Karen Bossick
When Vivian Bobbitt and her husband Bill moved to Bellevue some 30 years ago they boosted the town’s population many-fold.
They brought truckloads of cows, horses, ducks, dogs, rabbits, chickens—even pheasants–from their former home in Rupert. Oh, and two children to boot.
“We brought lots of loads,” said Bobbitt. “When I had a day care at our home, the children called us Ol McBobbitt’s Farm. They loved for me to take them walking around to see all the animals.”
Vivian’s day still begins with the crowing of the rooster. The neighbors’ dogs promptly bounce over to beg for treats with her dogs. Then it’s on to feed dozens of chickens, including some new baby chicks, and 25 peacocks.
Most of her peacocks sport the traditional colorful blue-green plumage of the Indian peacock—the national bird of India. But she has two other varieties, as well, including white peacocks, which have a genetic mutation that causes them to be born yellow and become white as they mature.
“My 100-year-old mother sometimes has to hit them with a walker to get them to get out of her way. She’s not quite used to this, having grown up in town. But we’ve lived this way all these years. It’s just the way we live,” said Vivian.
It’s Vivian’s love of horses that led the Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center to name her to the Blaine County Heritage Court, which will hold its coronation ceremony June 22. Vivian is active in the Sawtooth Rangers, a group that works to improve riding trails and supports activities like trail rides and rodeos. Vivian also has been a 4-H leader for years.
She grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming., where she rode her beloved horse everywhere.
“I didn’t have a car so I’d ride across town and pick up my best friend with her suitcase to bring her home for a sleepover. My dad was always having to get the horse trailer and retrieve me because I’d ride too far.”
Vivian was serving as maid of honor at that best friend’s wedding when she noticed the brother of the groom. It felt like love at first sight, even though she had known Bill Bobbitt since they were children. She called off her engagement and she and Bill were married five months later.
“Fifty-one years this year,” said Bill. “Seems like a lifetime.”
Bill worked for Idaho Power and the couple “followed the lines.” They moved from North Dakota to Montana to Utah to Wyoming to Idaho, with Vivian setting up home in an 8-by 39-foot trailer home built in 1954 that they hauled from place to place with a one-ton truck.
Vivian cooked roasts and other meals for the crew, comprised of single men or men whose wives were home tending to schoolchildren. At nights they would make waffles with the waffle iron Bill bought Vivian during their first year of marriage and play cards with the crew.
“Sometimes we moved every week,” Vivian said, recounting stints in Cascade, Yellow Pine, Twin Falls, Buhl and Rupert. “Our cat thought that car was her home because we traveled so much.”
She paused. “This is my favorite place. We came here in the early ‘80s and we’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, including Sheridan. This land looked like home. It was just a plain field then with a couple old farmhouses. We had antelope in our front yard, deer in the back and elk in the pasture. I could get on my horses and ride as far as I wanted and not ever hit a fence.
“We have beautiful hills, spectacular sunrises and sunsets and nice neighbors. The people here are a lot friendlier than anywhere else.”
The cowboy way
Vivian and Bill were invited on a trail ride with the Sawtooth Rangers shortly after they moved to the valley and they have been avid members ever since.
Bill has served as president of the club for nine years, in addition to serving as vice-chairman of the Intermountain Pro Rodeos Association (IMPRA). Vivian has served as secretary. They’ve been heavily involved with the ski-joring competition the Rangers put on, as well as the July 4 Days of the Old West Rodeo the Sawtooth Rangers, which raises money for high school rodeo, 4-H and the Senior Connection. The last rodeo raised $20,000 for the community.
“I haven’t seen the rodeo in a long time I’ve been so busy taking tickets,” Vivian said. “But I get to see all my friends that way. I did get to see Bill get chased up the fence by a bull when he was bull riding judge. It scared me to death, but the bull didn’t hurt him. He just scraped his shin.”
The Bobbitt’s daughter Michelle Bobbitt, a rodeo queen at several events, is always bringing home cowboys with no place to stay during the rodeos. They wind up in bedrolls on the living room couch and in the front yard.
Close to a hundred rodeo participants from such far-flung places as Jerome, Pocatello and Idaho Falls also wind up in the Bobbitt’s yard after the rodeo concludes each night to share Dutch oven meals and set up camp in their RVs.
“It looks like a city out here then,” Vivian said.
Both Bill and Vivian have been 4H leaders, helping their son Devin and daughter Michelle and their friends show animals. They’ve also judged kids’ dogs, horses, rabbits, chickens all over Idaho.
“I always enjoy seeing the kids we’ve worked with–Ryan Thomas is working with cows. Another is in Texas working in the horse industry,” she said.
Vivian worked full-time with the Atkinsons’ floral department until two years ago when she fell off her horse near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park and broke her hip. She lay there seven hours before she was chauffeured to the hospital aboard a helicopter. When the pins inserted into her hip didn’t heal, she got a whole new hip.
At 71 she still rides horses nearly every day—recently, she took part in a breakfast ride with the Sawtooth Rangers that included 25 horse riders and a mule-driven wagon carting others. The ride was preceded by blueberry pancakes and capped with a Dutch oven meal of Pepsi chicken.
In July Vivian plans to ride in the historic Appaloosa trail ride commemorating the route that Nez Perce Chief Joseph took his people on as they tried to escape to Canada in 1877.
Each summer between 150 and 300 riders from as far away as Germany, England, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia have ridden a hundred-mile segment of the 1,300-mile trail from Joseph, Ore., to a spot in Montana just south of the Canadian border, where Chief Joseph surrendered.
Vivian has ridden in the event for 39 years—her favorite stretches being the Lolo Trail and the stretch that goes through Chief Joseph’s childhood home in the mountains of Eastern Oregon.
“Here, we’ve ridden at Baker Creek, Big Basin, near Solder Mountain, Little City of the Rocks, Square Lake near Timmerman Junction… My favorite is Miner Lake—it’s real pretty scenery,” she said. “Part of why we love to live here.”