Elinor Catterall


(May 27, 2004)

Elinor Stine Catterall, a pioneer Wyoming schoolteacher and descendant of early settlers, died Thursday, May 27 at a Denver area nursing home. She was 88.

A resident of Powell since 1950, she had most recently resided at Life Care Center of Littleton after a series of debilitating hip injuries.

She retired from teaching in Powell in 1982, ending a career in education that began 46 years earlier in a converted bunkhouse at a remote ranch south of Mountain View in the Uinta Mountains of southwestern Wyoming.

She was active in community and professional organizations, serving as corresponding secretary and member of numerous committees in the Wyoming chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary education society. Her accomplishments are cited in the society's three-volume "Let Your Light Shine: Pioneer Women Educators of Wyoming."

Her great-grandparents on her mother's side arrived in Uinta County in 1867, her mother's maternal grandparents emigrating to the United States from Wales nine years earlier and traveling on to Wyoming by wagon train. About the same time, her mother's paternal grandparents came from Ireland and traveled by rail to the Union Pacific Railroad's end of the line, at that point, Bear River City. The family moved to Almy a year later after a riotous gun battle turned Bear River City into a ghost town. Both sets of great-grandparents settled in Evanston.

Elinor Stine, born in Evanston on April 2, 1916, was valedictorian of her high school class in Evanston and attended the University of Wyoming for two years. At the university, she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.

Her first teaching assignment was in 1936 at Thunder Mountain rural school at a ranch where she lived during the school year with her four pupils. She recalled hiring a rancher after one Christmas break to return her to school by sleigh warmed by a wood stove. She normally rode horseback for seven miles to catch a school bus to Robertson.

She married Willard Catterall, her college sweetheart, in 1938, resulting in a temporary end to her teaching career - married women were not hired in those years as schoolteachers. The family lived in Gillette, Midwest, Elk Basin, Powell and Worland before her husband's 1962 death in North Dakota, where the family lived for a year while he supervised construction and subsequent operation of an oil refinery.

After her husband's death, she returned to college and obtained her education degree from Eastern Montana College, now Montana State University at Billings. She returned to Powell to renew her teaching career, embracing new teaching methods, becoming involved in an experimental reading program for second graders and engaging in team-teaching at Powell's modular Westside School when it opened in 1970.

She belonged to the Presbyterian Church and served as program chairwoman and president of the Powell Fine Arts Club. She also served on the Powell Hospital Foundation Board and, after her retirement, as a volunteer at Powell Library and its literacy program.

She is survived by sons John (Diane), of Tampa, Fla., and Story; Lee, of Kapolei, Hawaii; and Stephen (Sue) of Littleton, Colo.; four grandchildren: Matthew of Austin, Texas; Andrew of San Francisco, Calif.; and Peter and Brita of Littleton. Memorial services are scheduled Saturday, July 10 at 10 a.m. at Union Presbyterian Church in Powell.

The Rev. David Hunter will preside at services. A reception will follow at the home of Esther Brumage.

For those who wish, memorials to the Powell Library through the Park County Library Foundation would be appreciated by the family.