On any given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday you can find a gregarious group of “golden oldies” doing their rounds at Brentwood Ice Arena. We call them the “Coffee Club” but they are much more than coffee-drinking, seasoned skaters. In this gathering of ladies and gentlemen, you can find international stars, retired educators, authors, artists, business owners, doctors, dads, moms and one Ms. Senior Missouri contestant.
Born in Seattle, Washington, raised in Portland, Oregon, Merrily Coffyn Woodford is an amazing woman. You might think she is in her 50s if you are looking. Most people would never guess that she is in her 70s! She smiles as she quips, “My name is Merrily, just like the song- ‘merrily we roll along’ so I have to have a sense of humor.” –and she does! Her laugh is contagious. She says, “It gets ya through!”
Oregon State University is Merrily’s original alma mater. She earned a BS in Education there. Her education continued at Maryville University (then College) where she earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Educational Counseling for K-12. This led to teaching kindergarten for many years. With such a vivacious personality, corralling while inspiring young ones was a perfect fit!
In 1964, Merrily married the love of her life, Gene Woodford. She left teaching to raise two lovely daughters. As any proud wife, mom, mother-in-law and grandmother of four, family continues to be a big part of her life. It is no surprise to see the loves of her life tagging along to the ice rink. But there is more history to cover…
With her children grown, there were years left before retirement. Merrily returned to the roll of educator. Teaching and helping to establish the Special Services Co-op of Jefferson County filled a growing need in the community, as well as been fulfilling for Merrily. Many students and families were encouraged to reach a little higher through her encouragement.
Retirement did arrive but she does a few things to keep her busy. Obviously, she is part of the “Coffee Club” and has been skating for 8 years on Mondays and Wednesday. She does laps and she does ice “tricks” such as waltz jumps, spins and technical turns. She even gave synchronized skating a go with the Adult Synchronized Skating-Ice Rhapsody group at Brentwood. Skill and Bravery are required, Merrily has both.
Dance has kept the lady young. Her dreams of dancing as a child have come true after age 60. She spends hours a week tap dancing, ballroom dancing and jazz dancing as a member of the Cameo Club Dancers. Of course she couldn’t stay “just a member” for long, Merrily is the manager/events coordinator of the Cameo Dancers. She keeps them busy. The club performs several times a month, entertaining and bringing joy thousands!
Then, in 2011, Merrily’s kindness, wisdom, poise, charity and talent all came together to earn her the coveted position of runner up to Ms. Senior Missouri. Though it is an honor she well deserved, an experience she will never forget and a word from her friends that she should have won, Merrily smiles, humbly saying, “It was fun.” That’s why she is amazing!