Cathy Hedin McNeil, of Monte Vista, passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends at her home on Sunday, March 24, 2013. She had been battling inflammatory breast cancer since May of 2010.
Cathy was born on July 5, 1954 in Ironwood, Michigan. She was the third child born to Jack and Ollie Hedin. She grew up in Michigan, and moved to Grand Rapids, Minnesota during junior high. She graduated from Grand Rapids High School. After high school, Cathy moved to Gunnison, Colorado to attend Western State College, where she was a member of the woman’s ski team. She studied geology and physics, and after graduating, she began working as an exploration geologist. While working near Platoro, Colorado, she was set up on a blind date with her future husband, Mike McNeil. They were married on November 21, 1981. On February 11, 1987, they welcomed their only child, Kelly Jayne McNeil.
Cathy was an advocate for land and water conservation. She was the founding president of the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) and was instrumental in completing conservation easements on her own ranch, as well as helping others preserve their land. She served on various water and land conservation boards throughout her life. Her dedication to conservation has been an inspiration to many landowners, not just in the San Luis Valley, but across the country.
Cathy had a passion for music. She grew up playing several instruments and singing, and has been a member of many bands throughout the years. Most recently, she was a member of the band “High Knowhere” in Crested Butte, Colorado. The band released their first album, “Better Late than Never” in late 2012. She was also an avid skier and spent much of her time in Crested Butte. She enjoyed all of the beauty that Colorado had to offer and loved to spend as much time in the mountains as she could.
Cathy will be remembered for her strong, independent spirit and her intelligence. She was a loving mother, wife, sister, aunt and a friend to many. She is survived by her husband Mike McNeil, daughter Kelly McNeil, brother John (Michelle) Hedin, brother Jim Hedin, many nieces and nephews and a multitude of friends.
A memorial will be held on April 13 at the home of Mona Syring (3165 E. Hwy 160, Monte Vista, CO). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust.