Ellen Guthrie devotes her life to nursing, helping people | ParkRecord.com

Ellen Guthrie devotes her life to nursing, helping people

She grew up in Wyoming riding horses and skiing

By Steve Phillips
Record contributing writer

Ellen Guthrie has lived in Park City for 25 years. She recently retired from Intermountain Heath Care after a distinguished career as a registered nurse.

Ellen Guthrie is not boring. Her life so far has been a whirlwind of parenthood, work, service and play – these days it's heavy on the play.

The longtime Parkite, who just turned the corner on 60, shared bits and pieces of her story at a recent "super moon bonfire," complete with s'mores, and much more later, an in-depth interview.

Born a cowgirl in Laramie, Wyoming, Guthrie grew up riding horses, roaming the wind-swept prairie and sprawling Medicine Bow mountains. Summers included sojourns to the family cabin near Jackson, where she loved riding both horses and bicycles. On skis at age four, she took to the sport which would take her to far-flung venues across the country.

"I started on a little ski hill near town with a rope tow and a T-bar," she said.

Guthrie soon graduated to bigger hills at nearby Steamboat Springs and honed her skills. It paid off. She was the Wyoming state alpine champion in high school and also skied for the Vail ski team, accomplishments that earned her a full-ride scholarship to the University of Utah.

A standout on the University’s ski team, she went on to earn a degree in commercial recreation in 1978. When she was married with young children, she juggled her familial duties with jobs at Atomic Ski and coaching the Snowbird ski team.

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Guthrie went back to school in 1988, studying at Salt Lake Community College to become a registered nurse.

"I always liked science and also a friend sort of talked me into it," she said.

Her very first job was as a trauma nurse in the University of Utah Medical Center’s intensive care unit for burn victims.

"I didn’t want to be a floor nurse; I wanted to do something exciting," she said with a grin. "The first week was very intense. There were several deaths from burns and I didn’t think I could do the job, but I loved being a nurse and having the opportunity to make someone’s day better. Whether they were in pain or just scared, I tried to help every patient I had. Also, the staff was incredible."

An avid horsewoman, Guthrie began competing in events with her then teenage daughter, Taylor, soon after moving to Park City in 1991. The grueling competitions combined dressage with cross-country and jumping events over a three-day period.
Guthrie won the national three-day championship in 2009 on a horse named Ideal Life, which she reared from a colt. She still rides and competes with Ideal Life, now 13 years old.

"A bond with a large animal is incredible," she said. "It’s a bond of total trust between two beings that are depending on each other."

After many years as a burn unit trauma nurse, Guthrie took a position with Intermountain Health Care (IHC) in 2002 as a nurse in their Salt Lake City surgical center. She’d just completed a volunteer nursing stint in Park City during the Winter Olympics and was ready for a change. Guthrie remained at IHC until retiring last spring.

A woman of deep compassion, she’s twice traveled to Africa as a volunteer surgical nurse on humanitarian medical missions in recent years. "These were incredible experiences. Each time when I came home I thought to myself, I hope I gave Africa as much as it gave me," she share.

Now blessed with more free time, Guthrie is hungry for more travel and up for new adventures. She recently completed a monumental seven-day, 60-mile trek to Machu Picchu on the fabled Salcantay Trail. Not the typical tourist route, the journey is described by Guthrie as "incredible, awe-inspiring and very spiritual."

Guthrie says her favorite things about living in Park City are all her great friends and the wonderful opportunities to be outside, playing in the mountains. Now a single woman, she confesses she’s "currently interviewing for a new buddy." One thing is for sure – it wouldn't be boring.

Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at stevep2631@comcast.net


Favorite activities: riding horses, skiing, hiking, road biking

Favorite foods: fresh vegetables, shrimp, fish

Favorite reading/authors: “I have a large pile of books of all kinds, most half-read.”

Favorite music/performers: Jimmy Buffett and any band playing an outdoor concert in town.

Bucket List: Very long, next are a horse safari and powder skiing in Canada and Iceland.