Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award

Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award

The Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award remembers the work of the first president of The Society from 1980-1982. His leadership helped to bring increased awareness and recognition to the field of gerontology in Colorado. The Award recognizes the work of community leaders who strive to be on the vanguard of efforts to improve the quality of life for older adults. The Award was established in 2014, with the inaugural recognitions of Eugene Dawson of Metropolitan State College of Denver, Marvin Montgomery of the Denver Broncos, Justina Curlee of KUVO Jazz89.3, Dennis Gallagher of the City of Denver, Wellington Webb of Webb Group International, Stevon Lucero of the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council and Senator John M Befalls, Colorado General Assembly. Other past recipients include Ferol Johnston, Golden Orchard (2015), Robert Trembly, 50 Plus Marketplace News (2016), Ernest Parker, Alpar Human Development Services (2017), Julie Kraft, Kraft Homes (2018), Mark Koebrich (2019), Maggie Sparks, Donald J. Opera and Priscilla Bapp (2020).

The Awards Committee of the Board of Directors is pleased to present the 2021 Eugene Dawson Leadership in Aging Award to Cathy O’Grady Melvin.

Cathy was born in Madison, WI, and is the oldest of seven children.  She entered Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in 1959 in Denver. She advanced her education by attending, Front Range, Metro State University and University of Northern Colorado with studies to be Clinical Nurse Specialist and a nurse practitioner.  Coincidentally one of her instructors was Eugene Dawson in gerontology, for whom this award is named.  The thing she remembers most from Gene’s class is disengagement theory.  Early in the days of gerontological education, disengagement theory held that older adults would retire, sit in the rocking chair, and contribute very little to the world and society. She has worked in hospital nursing, occupational health, public health, and now parish nursing. She is currently a parish nurse for Immaculate Heart of Mary for 5000 families. Prior to that she spent 18 years at the Visiting Nurse Services supervising 87 nurse clinic sites. She was also active in leading the way for individuals to be able to get flu shots in grocery stores.  Today she boasts her family has three generations of nurses – herself, her daughter and a granddaughter.