by Beecher Threatt
The room erupted when a slideshow revealed Dee James was named Woman of the Year by the Woman’s Club of Ouray County on Tuesday. James joins her mother, Joan Fedel (2011), and her sister, Pam Larson (2009), in receiving the honor.
“It doesn’t seem like it should be me,” she said. “So many people do so much more than I do. It feels disconnected. When I was little I would come with my grandma or my mom to these meetings. So it wouldn’t be me!”
James’ daughters, Nikole Stanfield and Kia James, and her husband, Ron, were in attendance to hear the announcement.
Earlier in the meeting, James accompanied Ouray County Chorus as they entertained the crowd with Christmas carols and seasonal songs. The chorus was led by Laurie Wenzel.
Heather Greisz, WCOC second vice president, reeled off a list of James’ volunteer activities in addition to her job at the school in IT and teaching business and her work for a caterer and at Mountain Fever in the summer.
James coaches the Screaming Eels Swim Team, Greisz said. She donated hours to Ouray School during construction there; she and Ron put out flags on holidays in support of a Boy Scout troop; she assists others in bookmaking; and, she is a water safety instructor at the pool.
In addition, Greisz said, James is the go-to pianist in town for the chorus, concerts, musicals, Ouray County Players, and melodramas and Christmas shows at Wright Opera house.
James created a program in which students deliver cookies on Valentine’s Day for people who are alone or who had a difficult year.
“I’m feeling a bit lazy,” husband Ron said after Greisz finished.
Scott Pankow, superintendent at Ouray School District, sent a statement that read: “Dee is the go-to person at OSD, doing everything from classroom teacher to Future Business Leaders of America coach to technology infrastructure to budget analysis to set design and construction for drama productions. Dee is always working for OSD and the students. She is so valued that this year’s senior class has selected her as their guest speaker.”
The club’s criteria for Woman of the Year include residing in the community for 10 or more years and being known for extraordinary dedication and service to the community.