Catherine Shors with her grandchildren
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Josh O'Leary

A member of the Class of 1935 celebrated a milestone birthday last May.

Before earning her business degree more than eight decades ago, Catherine Shaw Shors, BSC35, had to first pass a swim test, which was a requirement for graduation in those days. The many hours spent in the women’s gymnasium pool at Halsey Hall would lead to a lifelong love of the water.

The activity has certainly served her well. Shors turned 105 on May 20, making her one of the oldest living UI alumni, if not the oldest. While the university logs the date of birth of its 275,000 living alumni, deaths are not always reported to the university, making it difficult to determine if she’s the standard-bearer for longevity.

To put things in perspective, when Shors came to Iowa City in the early 1930s, Nile Kinnick, BA40, was still in junior high, future faculty member Grant Wood had just painted American Gothic, and the Iowa Memorial Union was a new campus hangout.

Born in Pocahontas, Iowa, in 1913, Shors served as vice president of the Iowa chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, a national honorary scholarship fraternity for those ranking in the top 10 percent of their senior class, and treasurer for Mortar Board, a senior honorary society for women.

After graduation, Shors worked as a secretary in her father’s law office and then for many years as a legal assistant for her husband, George, with whom she raised four children. Today, the lifelong Pocahontas resident’s family tree has grown to include 10 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

Shors’ family ties to the UI date even further back than her days on campus. Her grandfather, William F. Murphy, LLB1880, was an early graduate of the UI College of Law and a longtime Iowa City lawyer. Two of Shors’ sons also studied law at the UI—John Shors, JD64, and the late Richard Shors, LLB66.

Shors credits an active lifestyle for her good health. She was an avid walker and swam at her summer cottage on Lake Okoboji until her late 90s.

A few years ago, John Shors called the university to inquire about his mother’s latest reunion year—it would have been her 80th—and asked if the UI was in touch with any others from the class of 1935. The woman on the other end of the phone was amazed. “The alumni office said, ‘Absolutely not,’” John laughs.

Editor’s Note: This edited version of an article by Josh O’Leary first appeared in the May 2018 issue of the Iowa Magazine for UI alumni.