Remembering Catherine

Written by Randy Robbins, Pilot staff writer October 15, 2013 10:42 pm

Becky Atherton shares stories from her long relationship with Catherine Powers during a celebration of life. The Pilot/Randy Robbins
Becky Atherton shares stories from her long relationship with Catherine Powers during a celebration of life. The Pilot/Randy Robbins
Catherine Powers touched the lives of many people in her 54 years, and hundreds of friends, family and community members gathered Saturday in Gold Beach to say a final farewell during a celebration of her life.

Powers, who died of a heart attack on Oct. 2, was a driving force behind transitioning the Curry County Animal Shelter into a successful, non-profit entity — Pennies for Pooches — known for successfully finding homes for more 1,000 dogs and cats since 2008. 

She also served as a community activist and law enforcement officer for Curry County.

On Saturday afternoon, a stunningly long line of people assembled outside of Docia Sweet Hall at the Curry County Fairgrounds. The line wound its way out of the parking lot and up Ellensburg Avenue, stopping just short of Gold Beach High School. The crowd was an estimated 800 to 1,000 people.

Many wore the color green, Powers’ favorite and a symbol of her Irish heritage.

Her smiling friends handed out kelly green lapel ribbons along with warm hugs.

Once inside the building, people took turns offering heartfelt tribute to Powers. 

 They came to say “thank you” and “farewell.”

People described Powers as “dynamic,” “dedicated,” and “a lover of animals and people alike.”

Few area residents said they could remember a memorial event in Curry County history that resulted in such a large turnout.

The crowd was silent during a slide show presentation that highlighted Powers’ family history and community endeavors. Powers’ son and daughters then took the stage and, one by one, recalled found memories of their mother.

Becky Atherton, who had known Powers since the age of 4, told of how the two of them helped retrieve newborn puppies from under the porch of a house owned by former professional basketball great Laddie Gale. 

“It was there, that day, that Catherine got her love for animals,” Atherton said. 

She got the crowd laughing when she said, “Catherine was Catholic and I, a Baptist. We lived next door to our houses of worship. We would sneak into the Catholic and Baptist churches and perform religious ceremonies as best we could at that age. I would dunk her at the Baptist Church in the baptismal in the name of the Holy Ghost!”

Eric Bryant, president of the Curry Animal Shelter board of directors, reminded the audience that “Catherine’s vision is still alive — the shelter will be conducting a dog rescue in California next week.”

 He recounted his time with Powers saying, “She worked hard every day and put in long hours.” 

He promised the audience that the shelter would remain open.

Tim Brueckner, pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church of Gold Beach, shared several funny stories surrounding his time with Catherine and her family, and concluded his talk by saying, “God makes us for a purpose: Find something good to do and go do it!”

He imagined what it might be like with Powers now in heaven. He reckoned that she sees all that is there and says, “Someone else can do the plants, I’ll take the animals!”