Colleen Hope Rader

Full of years and many accomplishments, Colleen Hope Rader, of Medford, Ore., passed away while in the loving care of family and friends on Saturday, October 15, 2011, at her residence, following a long battle with lung cancer.

She was born Colleen Hope Winterhalder in Medford, Ore., to John Henry and Anna (Ferguson) Winterhalder. She spent many hours of her childhood in her father's store, The Cozy Nook Soda Fountain, in the Sparta building at the corner of E. Main and Riverside. In the upstairs of the same building was the Ruth Luy Dance Studio, where Colleen started taking dance lessons at the age of 8. She eventually became Ruth's assistant, and when Ruth left in 1944, Colleen took over the operation and renamed it the Colleen Hope Dance Studio.

She obtained her pilot's license from Eddie Randal, flight instructor at the Medford Municipal Airport in 1944 and graduated from Medford High School in 1945. She went on to study ballet at the Mexico City School of Ballet from 1945 to 1947 under the tutelage of Jose Fernandez, formerly of the New York City Ballet, continuing her studies intermittently with the San Francisco Ballet. Unable to pursue a dance career herself, Colleen put her training to use by founding her own school of dance. Colleen taught all dance forms, ballroom, ballet, swing and others, for many years traveling to Shady Cove, Ashland, Crescent City and California. She became an icon for children and adults alike in the Rogue Valley dance community and in 1966 she built her own studio at 45 Hawthorne Street.

Colleen met and married Carl Huson of Grants Pass, Ore., in January 1961. The couple moved to Sacramento, Calif., where she opened a branch of her dance studio, commuting back to Medford to teach master classes. They subsequently moved to El Paso, Texas, so Carl could manage a wood molding mill. In El Paso, Colleen took up water color painting, composition and line drawing, discovering a talent and developing vibrant skills that remained with her throughout her life. Mr. Huson passed away in 1983.

Colleen secured a position on a cruise ship as director of arts and crafts, where she met Ralph Rader, a businessman from El Cerrito, Calif., who would become her second husband in 1985. They traveled extensively and enjoyed a full life until Ralph's passing in 1994. Colleen returned to Medford in 2003, where she was active on the Board of the Britt Music Festival of Jacksonville and as a mentor in the CASA Program for Jackson County.

Colleen is survived by her niece, Holly Winterhalder Bales, of Yakima, Wash; nephew, Bruce Paul Winterhalder, of Davis, Calif; three stepsons, Tom Huson, of Idaho, Curtis Huson, of Sacramento, Calif.; and Carl Huson, of Gold Hill, Ore; two beloved grandsons, Randy Huson, of Calif.; and Trevor Huson, of Missouri. She was preceded in death by her parents; her younger brother, John Paul Winterhalder; and stepson, Wayne Huson, of Los Angeles.

We honor her life and spirit as an embodiment of hope -- her middle and business names, both a natural inclination of her personality and a conscious choice of her attitude in life. She possessed an abundance of courage and creative intelligence. She was a lover of dance, art and vodka martinis. She will be remembered in the Rogue Valley by her many students of dance, family, dear friends, neighbors and many others, who will mourn her passing.

Colleen will be interred next to her mother and father in the pioneer cemetery on Griffin Creek Road. A private graveside service is planned.

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