This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Meet Catharine and Bill ByrdMeet Catharine and Bill Byrd
This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Catharine and Bill Byrd have always shared a love of travel—especially on their own two feet. In addition to each state in America, the couple has participated in walks in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Denmark, and Luxembourg.

Bill’s career offered him various job opportunities, which eventually relocated the family to Vancouver, Washington. That’s where the couple discovered their passion for Volkswalking.

“I was a dedicated mall-walker at that time,” recalls Catharine. “One day, out of curiosity, I attended a talk on Volkswalking. I went home and told Bill this was something we might like to try.”

So they tried it, says Catharine, “And we were hooked!”

“When Bill traveled for business,” she recalls, “we’d stay a few days longer and do 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) Volkswalks in the nearby states.”

Bill adds, “We did enough walking to keep our weekends busy for a number of years.”

The couple has now logged official Volkswalks in all 50 states and in the process seen some gorgeous scenery. “Volkswalking is a great way to see the country, because you see the little things that you miss when you’re zipping by in a car,” says Bill.

The Byrds became charter members in a Volkswalking group that began over 15 years ago in Vancouver. The club is still active, but Bill and Catharine tend to take shorter walks on their own these days or head out with a Touchmark walking group.

From Alabama to Washington
Both Catharine and Bill were born and raised in Alabama.

When Bill was just 18, the US was pulled into World War II, and he joined the Army. “I wound up in the infantry,” he says, “so that was really the start of my walking. Bill remained in the Army Reserves for 21 years, serving in both Europe and Asia.

After he returned from service, Bill enrolled in Auburn University in Alabama, where he met and married Catharine.

In those days, it was common for women to leave college once they were married, so Catharine dropped out of school while her husband finished his degree in Chemical Engineering. Later, Catharine returned to school and got her degree in Accounting at the University of Portland.

Right out of school, Bill landed a job at a foundry in Alabama. Soon, though, he and the family were transferred to southern California, and then to Columbus, Indiana. While there, he took a job with a competitor and relocated to Vancouver, Washington, where he and Catharine have lived for the last 40 years.

After earning her Accounting degree in their new home, Catharine taught in a business school. “Then I used my degree to volunteer in a lot of organizations, including our church as treasurer for almost nine years.”

The Byrds raised a daughter and three sons. They now boast seven grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. The whole family gets together at least once a year.

Opting for easier living
A few years ago, the Byrds decided it was time for them to let go of the chore of maintaining their own home and yard.

“We already belonged to the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club, so we knew people here, and we were familiar with Touchmark.”

Still, they did their research and looked at other retirement communities in the area. In the end, they chose Touchmark.

“We liked the light and open feeling here at Touchmark when you walk in the front doors,” says Catharine. “And the people here are great.”

Bill chimes in, “And now we don’t have to drive crosstown to the fitness club; we just ride down the elevator.”

The Byrds originally moved into a Terrace apartment. When a larger apartment with more storage became available in the main building, they took it.

Staying physically and mentally active
Bill continues to take full advantage of Touchmark’s Health & Fitness Club. “I do yoga two days a week and work out on the machines the other three days,” he says. He especially likes using the pneumatic weight-lifting system and the rowing machine in his workouts.

Catharine used to take aerobic dance and now participates in the SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) class three days a week.

Walking is still a favorite way for them to get their exercise between classes and workouts.

They also volunteer on various Touchmark committees. Catharine is head of the Dining Committee, while Bill volunteers on the Interior and Dining committees.

“There are a lot of activities here to participate in,” says Bill. “In fact,” he says with a smile, “it can put a bit of a strain on you trying to keep up with it all.”

Catharine laughs with her husband. “There’s certainly no reason to be bored here!”

Since they have lived in Vancouver for more than 40 years, they also keep active with people they knew before moving into Touchmark.

A philosophy to live by …
Catharine says, “I’ve always looked at my life in terms of stages: the Alabama Stage, the California Stage, and so forth. I try not to look back and regret things … You have to always look forward to the different phases of your life.”

Although the Byrds have many medals to show for their accomplishments, they still have much to look forward to—and do so with the same passion they always have.

Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

Meet Joyce and Jim HolterMeet Joyce and Jim Holter
Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

If you want to know anything about the 70-foot, world-famous Hjemkomst (Homecoming) Viking Ship or the replica Hopperstad Stave Kirke (church), Jim would be delighted to take you on a tour of The Hjemkomst Center, where he is a docent.

If you’d like to know more about genealogy and how to use a computer to research and record your own family history, Joyce is your expert.

On any given day, you could also find Joyce baking her special bread that the grandchildren call Grandma Bread or working on her computer helping
update the Touchmark resident story album. Jim is just as busy, practicing with the Touchmark choir and volunteering at Touchmark’s convenience store.

Their cottage home is inviting, warmly decorated to reflect their Scandinavian heritage.

To Fargo—and back again
Joyce was born and raised in Kindred, a small town in the same county as Fargo. She and Jim met at North Dakota State University, where Jim completed his undergraduate degree.

The couple soon married and moved to Ames, Iowa, where Jim earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University. While he was taking classes, Joyce worked in Student Services, learning to use a computer and build databases, a skill she has used her entire life.

After graduating in 1957, the couple moved to Casselton, North Dakota, where Jim was a practicing veterinarian for 15 years. They then returned to Ames, and Jim started a 20-year tenure as a professor at Iowa State University.

Also in that timeline, the couple raised four children—two girls and two boys—all of whom eventually graduated from Iowa State University.

“We retired young,” Jim says. “I was 61, and Joyce was 57.”

Their own hjemkomst (homecoming) eventually led them back to Fargo. Joyce says, “When it came time for us to retire, we came home to what was really home to us.”

A long-planned move
When they first retired, though, the Holters bought a home on a lake in Minnesota.

“At that time,” Jim recalls, “I said to Joyce, ‘When I turn 80, we’ll think about doing something different. And she held me to it!”

So when Jim turned 80, Joyce reminded her husband of his promise. “By that time,” Jim says, “I was getting tired of maintaining the lake home, mowing the lawn, taking care of the boat and dock … ”

Joyce continues. “When Touchmark had an open house, we went to look at their cottages.” And they both liked what they saw.

“Now,” says Joyce, “whenever we go and visit other folks in the community, we always come home and say, ‘Oh, we have the best place!'”

Jim adds, “We’ve lived in many homes, and this is about the most comfortable that we’ve ever lived in.”

Joyce, the genealogist, adds, “And after we moved in here, I found out that I have three third cousins living here, too! I could show you exactly how we are related!”

Enjoying each day to its fullest
Because both are half Norwegian (Jim is also part Dane), it is only natural that Joyce and Jim volunteer at The Hjemkomst Center at least one day a week. Joyce works in the business office, using her many computer skills, while Jim is a docent, guiding visitors through the maze of Scandinavian history. Joyce and Jim have traveled extensively, including three trips to Norway.

Jim just performed with the Touchmark Choir at the historic Fargo Theater. He practices with them every week, and they perform at area schools, other retirement communities, for a local Kiwanis Club, and for other residents. “What’s so unique about our choir,” says Jim, “is that the members range in
age from 22 to 101!”

Joyce spends a lot of time on her computer. “I have had a computer on my desk since 1976.” She learned to build databases early on, which has proved indispensable for her genealogy work, which she has been doing for over 25 years.

Joyce and Jim enjoy people and are very involved in the Touchmark community. “We love sharing stories and histories and believe everyone has a story.”