Longtime Methow Valley resident Ann Henry will mark her 90th birthday on Aug. 24, and residents and visitors who are aware of her impact on the valley will celebrate our good fortune in having had her in our community for two-thirds of those years.
Ann moved to the valley in 1960 with her young children and husband, the late and legendary Dr. William Henry — known to most as “Doc Henry” — and for the past 60 years has been making her mark here.
“Throughout her entire life,” says her daughter Cindy Button, “my mom identified things she thought needed doing, and she made them happen.”
Cindy lists the programs Ann — working with other Methow Valley movers and shakers — accomplished: “When we first arrived in the valley there was no kindergarten, so she started one in the upstairs of our house. There wasn’t a ski school at the Loup so she started one. She helped consolidate the Winthrop and Twisp elementary schools. When we girls were old enough for Camp Fire Girls she started a club, and she did the same thing with the Boy Scouts for my brother. She started a bridge club in the valley, as well as a series of welcome luncheons for women who were new to the valley.”
Not all of Ann’s initiatives have met with widespread approval, Cindy says — referencing the school consolidation, for example — but “she will always stay the course. She is stubborn, but in a gracious way. She is never mean.”
“She’s quite tenacious,” Ann’s daughter Laura Grimstad says. “When she believes in something she sticks with it, and nothing can sway her.”
Ann doesn’t just focus on starting new programs; she makes existing ones stronger and richer. You name it, Ann has volunteered for it. She has, at one time or another, volunteered with and/or served on the board of the following nonprofits: Aero Methow Rescue Service, Classroom in Bloom, Confluence Gallery, The Cove, Habitat for Humanity, The Merc Playhouse, the Methow Valley United Methodist Church, Methow Conservancy, Methow Recycles, Methow Trails, Methow Valley Education Fund, Methow Valley Fund, Methow Valley Interpretive Center, Methow Valley School District, the Native Plant Society, Room One, Shafer Museum, Washington Outfitters and Guides Association, Washington Trails Association, and both local libraries. And those are just the ones that her friends and family can remember!
COVID was — and continues to be — frustrating for Ann because she hasn’t been able to get out and do the things she has done for so long. “I want to be useful,” she lamented to Cindy, when the first COVID shutdown put a halt to normal volunteer activities.
Ann knows the Methow Valley’s special places as well as she knows its programs. “I’ve never been there before, let’s check it out” has been her mantra for getting to know the North Cascades. Whether it involved hiking, biking, skiing, snowmobiling or skating to get there, Ann made it happen for scores of family members, friends, as well as the guests who she cooked for on Claude Miller’s pack trips.
In her exploring heyday — which lasted more than a half century — Ann was always the first to rise in the morning to prepare food and gear for the day, the person who somehow always had a dinner ready when the day’s activity was complete, and the one who kept pushing to prolong the adventure. “We kids would be ready to quit,” Cindy says, “but mom always said ‘Let’s just go to that next pass there.’ She always wanted to keep going — another run at the Loup, another mile on the trail.”
“She knows this backcountry like the back of her hand,” Laura says. “Sometimes Cindy and I will be talking about a hike and mom will be nearby but not participating in the conversation, and then suddenly she’ll say ‘That’s the one where you turn left and cross the creek and see that enormous boulder with the log leaning against it,’ and sure enough, the next time you’re there you notice exactly what she means. Or you’ll be out hiking with her on a trail she hasn’t done in 10 years and she’ll say, ‘Now there’s a little spring coming up,’ and sure enough, you hike a little further and then there’s a spring off to the side of the trail.”
Ann’s breadth of knowledge extends to interpersonal relationships. Her longtime friend and adventuring partner Roxie Miller says “Ann knows the hats and the caps,” meaning that Ann has friends in the longtime cowboy crowd as well as the recreation crowd. “She is so fun and open to everyone,” Roxie says. “A gal after my own heart.”
That’s the thing about Ann Henry; she has a little piece of many people’s hearts. If you’re one of these people, you may want to send Ann a birthday card, sharing a memory, a story, or just some birthday wishes. Mail it to PO Box 637, Twisp, WA 98856.