Posted in Biographical, Photos

I Can Do Hard Things

Today is the 112th anniversary of my Granny’s birthday.  Kathleen Matheson (Gooch) was born 14 May 1901 in Parowan, Iron County, Utah.  Because of her example, I know I can do hard things.

Kathleen Matheson portrait 1

When Kathleen was 36, her husband  of 16 years, Allen Lee Millard (Nig) Gooch, was killed in a flash flood in Clifton, Greenlee County, Arizona.  She was now faced with supporting herself and her son Millard Earl Gooch (my father), who was 13 years old at the time.  Kathleen had an 8th grade education.

Nig died 21 Sep 1937, and by December Kathleen had paid $90 tuition for cosmetology school in Los Angeles, California.

Kathleen Matheson Cosmetology School receiptWP

Her son stayed with his grandparents in Arizona while she studied to be a beautician.  She began school 3 Jan 1938, and earned her certificate 14 Sep 1938.  She was licensed 20 Jan 1939.

Kathleen Matheson cosmotology school certificateWP Kathleen Matheson Cosmotology licenseWP

It is my understanding that she then set up a little salon in the back of a barber shop in Safford, Arizona.  I admire her great strength at a very difficult time, when it would have been easy to fold.  Instead she took action.  It must have been hard to leave her son and travel alone to a big city to get the training she needed.  It must have been hard to adapt to the new role of breadwinner for her family.  I am in awe of her.  She was active in civic groups for businesswomen, and later worked in retail after her beautician days were over.

Kathleen and son Earl in her beauty salon, est. between 1944-1946

I think the portrait at the top of this post exudes strength and beauty, and great class.  I also love her hair—which I inherited, by the way!

Kathleen Matheson Gooch lived independently all her life, was mentally sharp, had very few health problems, and died at age 98 on 19 Jan 2000.  Her life spanned the entire 20th century!

Kathleen Matheson birthday 3Happy Birthday, Granny Gooch!


I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

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