Glenwood lawyer George Petre remembered as kind, generous
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Longtime Glenwood Springs family lawyer George Petre passed away Monday, March 1, in Louisville with his wife of 64 years, Lois Petre, by his side. He was 85.
He started his law career in Glenwood Springs in 1949, working under Clifford Darrow, who represented many of the valley’s ranchers and old timers. Petre naturally gravitated toward those clients, since they were just like the customers in his father’s International Harvester dealership in Haxtun.
“A whole lot of his clients were old ranchers and farmers,” recalled Dan Petre, George’s son and a 9th District judge. “He handled their problems in the way you used to do before lawyers became too specialized.
“Lawyers for a lot of years were generalists. If you needed a will, if your son got a traffic ticket, if you wanted to buy a piece of property, if one of your kids needed a divorce, or if you had to file for a water right, he could do it. Lawyers considered that they represented the family, and that was the approach my dad had,” Dan Petre said.
For more than 30 years, George Petre practiced with Robert Zimmerman, until Zimmerman’s death in 1985. They bought the property at the southwest corner of Eighth and Colorado and built the L-shaped building that still houses law offices.
Petre gave a start to many young lawyers who went on to have successful careers in Glenwood Springs, including Ted Shelton, Nick Goluba, John Kemp, Dan Petre, Courtney Petre and Dan Kerst.
“I was fresh out of law school, and he was willing to take a chance with me,” said Kerst. “George was always very kind and generous. He was just an excellent person to learn from, to break into the business with. He was very skilled and bright at what he did, and willing to share it.
“He had a great temperament for a lawyer. He had an even demeanor, and yet he could be real tough. He was very wise in his investments and in advising clients,” Kerst added.
In 1977, Dan Petre and his wife, Courtney, both joined the firm.
“He liked to work with people,” Dan recalled, “to see if they could come up with what are now referred to as win-win solutions. He liked to put together deals.”
A Father’s Day feature published in the Glenwood Post in 1988 included the father-son team of lawyers, with this comment from George Petre:
“Working together, we have to respect each other. We each have our own different styles, and there has to be cooperation and assistance. We each go our own way, too.”
Listening to that quote, Dan Petre laughed and said, “We did approach things a bit differently. I learned a lot working with him, and it was all grounded in respect, but in many cases we agreed to disagree.
During the early years of his career, Petre and other attorneys in Glenwood Springs did their version of community service by taking turns working in Aspen.
“In those days, there were so few lawyers in Aspen that my dad and four to five others would take turns to go up there and be the city or county attorney, because there were no lawyers to do the work,” said Dan Petre. “It was something the lawyers down here considered to be essentially public service. Aspen was a deserted mining community, and they needed the help.”
Later on, Petre’s interests branched out to include fishing, playing bridge, and being a loyal fan of Demons basketball teams.
When the Petre kids were young, the family would horsepack in to the Marvine Lakes on the Flat Tops, where they would enjoy fishing and camping together. In later years, George Petre would head out on fishing trips to Lake Powell and the Flaming Gorge with his pals.
As recently as six months ago, George played a weekly game of bridge, in which he had achieved the status of Life Master.
For many years after his own four children were grown, Petre remained a big fan of Glenwood Springs High School’s basketball teams.
“Every time the Glenwood Springs basketball team had an out-of-town game, he went to it,” recalled friend and business associate Carleton Hubbard. “Long after his sons graduated, he was very interested in the team and followed it very loyally.”
“He enjoyed this area so much,” said Dan Petre. “He loved the people, the community, the surroundings, and the outdoors.”
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The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge experienced vandalism in the form of significant water damage after a man removed a pipe valve with a fire extinguisher flooding four hallways. The lodge however remains open and operational.