Meet 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.