CSU Health Network employees share a hobby – writing children’s books

CSU’s Health and Medical Center provides care for the body and mind.

Kathlene Waller and Kevin Mabry
Kathlene Waller, right, and Kevin Mabry

It’s also, apparently, a good place to find authors of children’s books.

At least two CSU Health Network employees have published books for children in recent years, including one about Fort Collins’ historic streetcar and one about what it’s like to run a local family farm.

Dr. Kathlene Waller, the Health Network’s medical director, published Birney the Streetcar last year. And Dr. Nora Feldpausch, a psychiatrist at the Health and Medical Center, published Little Grandpa and Me: Learning to be a Dairy Farmer in 2015.

Birney’s birthday

From noon to 4 p.m. on May 19, the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society will celebrate the railway’s 100th anniversary at the Trolley Depot in City Park.

Kathlene Waller will be signing her book at the event.

For more information, visit www.fortcollinstrolley.org.

About ‘Birney’

Waller’s book, featuring illustrations by her husband, Kevin Mabry, chronicles the history of a streetcar that started running when the Fort Collins Municipal Railway was created in 1919. The story is told from the perspective of the streetcar, “Birney.” Named for its inventor, Charles Birney, Streetcar 21 was active until the system was shut down in 1951.

Birney the streetcar
‘Birney’ the streetcar

The streetcar then sat in Library Park, becoming rusted out, dilapidated and vandalized until 1977, when a local women’s group secured a grant to restore it as a visitor’s center, Waller says. That effort led to the formation of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society, which got the car running again in 1984 after a controversial relocation of trees along Mountain Avenue.

The streetcar still operates between Old Town and City Park on weekend afternoons from May through September. And from noon to 4 p.m. on May 19, the society will celebrate the railway’s 100th anniversary at the Trolley Depot in City Park, where Waller will be signing her book. This spring, her husband has been dressing up as a train conductor and reading the book in local second-grade classrooms.

“It was a fun project,” says Waller, who lives in a house along the rail line. “One morning we just woke up and said, ‘We should write a children’s book about the trolley.’ And that was in 1991. A few years ago we decided to publish it, now that we’re empty-nesters.”

Dairy farming book

Feldpausch’s book is written from the perspective of one of her twin daughters, Nina. She was 5 years old, and her great-grandfather was teaching her about family farming — and how it’s changed.

Feldpausch and her family

The Feldpausch family on their farm

Feldpausch’s husband is a third-generation dairy farmer whose grandfather, now 104, started the family farm in Michigan decades ago. Today, Feldpausch and her husband live on their dairy farm near Eaton and raise heifers near Fort Morgan.

Nina and her "Little Grandpa"
Nina and her “Little Grandpa”

The book features color photos of Nina and the man she calls “Little Grandpa,” and describes the care, feeding and milking of the family’s cows, then and now. It covers the veterinarian’s visits and the truck driver who transports the milk to be made into cheese, sour cream, yogurt and ice cream.

About 400 copies of the book have been distributed to schools by the Western Dairy Association, now known as Dairy MAX.

And it’s not the only book Feldpausch has written; she has unpublished works about a farm boy who wants to go to a barn dance, another boy who wants to touch the clouds, and a third about getting to know someone and falling in love — written for her husband while they were dating.

“I like to capture that delighted innocence that a child has,” she says, adding that she knows of a medical assistant at the Health and Medical Center who’s also working on a children’s book. “It’s an age that’s fun to write for. I love doing it.”