Who We Are: Volunteer and thespian Beverly Windscheffel loves the Grand Valley
Editor’s note: Who We Are is a regular series featuring men and women who embody the unique spirit of the Grand Valley. To nominate someone to be featured, e-mail email@example.com.
When Kentucky native Beverly Windscheffel visited Grand Junction for the first time with her new husband, Wally, almost 23 years ago, she knew she found their home.
Wally, who was already retired from the U.S. Navy at the time, was coming to the Grand Valley on paleontological digs for fun from California, and — being newly married — she wanted to tag along.
“I thought, ‘I think I’ll just go, too,’” Beverly said. “We looked around and decided to move here that very trip. So, we went home, sold our house, and bought a home in the Redlands.”
Beverly — now 73 years old and retired — still feels confident she’ll never leave the valley due to deep ties she’s forged with friends, neighbors and the arts.
“It’s the people that make it so special,” she said. “It’s a wonderful community.”
Organizations she particularly likes include Grand Junction’s Museum of Western Colorado, the Chautauqua Committee (a group supporting the portrayal of historical figures for educational purposes), and the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. She also enjoys theater, music and dance put on by Colorado Mesa University, along with Creative Avenues, and High Desert Opera.
She adores Grand Junction’s historic Avalon Theatre as well, a performing arts center that is currently undergoing construction upgrades.
“I think it’s the gem of Main Street,” Beverly said. “It just makes Main Street look so beautiful at night.”
According to Avalon Cornerstone Project development director Robin Brown, Beverly is an “instant friend” to all, and she’s always willing to help. They met when Beverly attended a volunteer meeting to assist with fundraising for the ongoing project.
“Beverly is full of life,” Brown explained. “She’s a big person — from her red hair to her smile to her bright wardrobe. She always makes me laugh, even if we’re just stuffing envelopes. From our very first meeting, she was my friend — that’s how it is with Beverly.”
“I always refer to her as our number-one volunteer.”
An active thespian, Beverly is also a huge supporter of local theater. She’s taken parts in Grand Junction Senior Theater performances over the years, and she even puts on one-woman shows by invitation — called “The Southern Belle.”
“I lay on my accent, and wear a hat, and talk about what it’s like for an old-maid ‘Southern Belle’ to find a husband,” she said, noting that she authors many of her performance pieces. “A lot of it is about my life,” growing up in Danville and Lexington, Ky.
She’s also a big Kentucky Derby fan — “I watch the derby with my hand over my heart, and I cry and sing,” she said with a smile — and she took up tap dancing in her 50s.
And though her husband, Wally, passed away five years ago, Beverly said he’ll always be remembered for his contribution to local paleontology, with his discovery of the Fruitafossor (Fruitafossor windscheffeli), a small mammal from the Late Jurassic time period (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth).
“He had a discovery, and it went all around the world,” she said. “It was a dream come true. It meant a lot to him.”
Beverly noted that the fossil currently resides at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.
A 2005 article published by the museum — http://www.carnegiemnh.org/press/05-jan-mar/032405popeye.htm — stated that Wally Windscheffel was “a field associate in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s section of vertebrate paleontology.” The discovery was made in 1998 in a “fossil-rich area” outside Fruita, “in the same geological formation as Dinosaur National Monument.”
Beverly added that as far as she knows, her husband’s Fruitafossor specimen is the only one currently known to exist and it shined a light on what early mammals were like back then.
“Judging by its teeth, its pointed snout, and its long front claws, it’s clear that Fruitafossor made its living by digging for insects, most likely termites (since ants had yet to evolve by the late Jurassic period), and it may also have burrowed beneath the ground to escape the large theropod dinosaurs of its day,” Dinosaurs.about.com writer Bob Strauss said in an online article. “To date, Fruitafossor is the earliest digging mammal yet known, appearing in the fossil record a whopping 100 million years before similarly adapted creatures.”
And John Foster, the Museum of Western Colorado’s curator of paleontology, said “it’s definitely one of my favorite mammals” found in that particular rock formation. “It’s a really neat animal, and a once in a lifetime kind of find.”
Beverly and Wally were married 20 years.
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