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Front Page » October 17, 2002 » Carbon Senior Scene » A Woman for All Seasons
Published 4,446 days ago

A Woman for All Seasons


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By RICHARD SHAW
Focus pages editor


This 200 pound squat is just a warm up for Haycock who can do over 300.

People often place labels on others. They say they are this or they're that. It's easy to do because it makes the world simple, easy and ordered.

And those labels are usually wrong.

Take Shirley Haycock, a person who has spent almost all of her 70 years living in Spring Glen. It would be easy to classify this grandma to six grandchildren as a typical senior citizen. Yet what is typical? Certainly Shirley isn't.

Haycock, raised in Spring Glen next the railroad where her father worked, has never led a typical life; it's always been a life of adventure and excitement, although she says it was not near as good before she was 40 as it is now. It's truly full of excitement these days.

Take a couple of weeks ago. One night she was sitting in the Green Room of the Late Show in New York City. Good friend and competitor to her in various weight lifting events, Effie Nielson was seated on the stage talking to David Letterman about how at the age of 90, weighing 106 lbs., she lifts weights three times that amount.

Yes, that's right, weight lifting.

Haycock has owned a number of American weight lifting records for her age and weight for years. Nielsen recently beat her at the Nevada State Championships in Elko, hence her invitation to the Late Show. Nielsen asked Haycock to come along.

In a few weeks they will be facing off again; this time at the Idaho State Championships.

Now one could place a label after hearing that, but there is more. Way more.

Her Utah State Fair award winning paper sculpture hangs proudly in the CEU Prehistoric Museum. A long time volunteer at the museum, as well as one of Don Burge's "bone diggers," Haycock has experienced more adventure than almost any five people put together. Her art could be considered an expression of her diverse experience.

Haycock is an artist too. She works in paints (oils, acrylics and airbrushing) and is also into sculpture (she owns a business cold casting with bronze and marble) as well as producing "paper sculputures" such as the one that won her a first place at the Utah State Fair this fall. She also does photography. Right now all three types of her art are on display at the CEU Prehistoric Museum in the "Art of Carbon County" exhibit.

Try and put a label on her now.

Haycock is an adventurer. She has travelled extensively, often on a shoestring. After becoming one of the first post World War II women to work in coal mines in the county between 1974-77 she decided after a layoff to go to the Grand Canyon. This was no overnight trip. She had spent several months going there before her trip burying food packs in various places along the rim of the canyon. After the layoff she spent 90 days walking around and through the canyon.

The only thing that interrupted it was a trip to Europe to see her first grandchild.

At one point during the Grand Canyon escapade she got sick. A ranger told her she was starving herself to death.

Place that label now.

Besides being a coal miner her career has included being in the military, a printers devil at the Sun Advocate, an Optician, a YMCA receation director and spent 10 years driving trucks in the construction and crude oil industry.

When she was 23 she was on one of her outings, in Denver and was broke. That was in the 50's and the heyday of television wrestling. She attempted to get a promoter to let her wrestle; they wouldn't do it.

Labels get hard to find the more one hears.

To her friends Haycock is extra special. Here she helps work on hanging Karen Templeton's paper sculpture that hung in the Weber State Library during the Olympics.

She was once involved in a program for her church called the Summiteers. It was a program for young girls to do outdoor type of activities. She wanted to take them to Alaska, but personally didn't have the money to go. So she and her two sons decided to walk to Seattle to save money for the boat ride. The burro they had got sick in Riggins, Idaho and they had to hitch a ride to finish the trip.

"Once we got on the boat in Seattle it was great," she says. "I never had such a good time."

She has taught wilderness survival, mountain climbs and cross country skis.

Next summer, she plans on participating in an extreme adventure teaming up with her son and her good friend Lisa Palmer. The adventure includes a six mile run ("I'll have to learn to run again") a 26 mile bike ride, a 17 mile canoe trip and to finish up a 250 foot repel.

"Right now the only thing of that group that I am sure I can do is repel," she states.

Most of the rest of us could probably do none of the events. Haycock said that one day she just decided that it was her life and she was going to live it her way.

"I don't consider myself a spring chicken," she says. "That kind of bird sells for less than a dollar a pound. I am more like a cultured partridge, because it sells for four to five dollars a pound."

There is no label for this woman but one that says exceptional.


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October 17, 2002
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