Rippy, Smith take annual Glenwood Chamber honors
Glenwood Springs Chamber Annual Award Recipients
Citizen of the Year
Athena Young Professional
Top Brass Business of the Year
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Steve and Jeanne Beckley
Tourism Business of the Year
Glenwood Springs Inn, Josie Fit
Volunteer of the Year
DECA Entrepreneur of the Year
Philanthropic Business of the Year
Busy Bees Delivery
A pair of Glenwood Springs natives, Gregg Rippy and Marian Smith, took top honors at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s annual awards gala, held Saturday night at the Hotel Colorado.
Rippy, a philanthropist, public servant, business leader and longtime owner of Grand River Construction, and former state representative, was recognized as the chamber’s Citizen of the Year. The award was presented by his wife, Marilee Rippy, who received the same honor three years ago.
“It is very nice to be recognized by people who care so much about their community, and what I care about in giving of myself is their respect,” Rippy, who was surrounded by numerous family members including his father, Paul Rippy, said after receiving the award.
Smith, the first woman to serve on Glenwood Springs City Council, including two years as mayor from 1980-82, and the first of only two female Garfield County commissioners, serving from 1984-1998, including several years as commission chairwoman, was the 2015 recipient of the Athena Award.
The award, named for the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage, recognizes someone who has created opportunities and been a model for women in business and public service.
“This is a great honor, and something I never really thought I might be considered for,” said Smith, who also gave tribute to her own mother, the late Nellie Duffy.
The fact that she loves mythology made this particular award special, Smith said.
“There’s never anything you can’t do if you put your mind to, and I’ve always been a believer in doing your homework,” she said. “You can always try anyway.”
The evening also included an award for the Athena Young Professional, which went to Deana Hermanson, branch manager at American National Bank; Volunteer of the Year, KMTS News Director Ron Milhorn; and several business awards (see separate listing of chamber award recipients).
‘LIKE A ROCK’
A touching video tribute played to the music of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” told the story of Gregg Rippy’s life and times in Glenwood Springs and service to his community, from volunteering on local boards and commissions, to serving in the Colorado House of Representatives.
Currently, Rippy is president of the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District board, which has awarded close to $10 million worth of grants to local municipalities, schools and special districts for capital and infrastructure projects.
He also runs the construction company that grew out of his father’s paving company, where he began running rollers at age 14 and by age 16 was driving an asphalt delivery truck.
Rippy married his high school sweetheart, Marilee, and they remained in Glenwood Springs, where they raised their family.
“Through watching and learning from my father, I gained a love for an industry that creates tangible product and improves the community,” Rippy said.
His civic involvement began as chairman of the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission. He was elected to the Colorado House in 2002.
Rippy is also a founding member of the Sunset Rotary Club, a member of numerous Masonic orders and serves on the Northwest Regional Council for the El Pomar Foundation.
Marilee Rippy related that Gregg was delayed coming home from a business trip in Denver because he decided to take a homeless man to dinner.
“He’s still the same man as he was when I met him,” she said.
Recently, he sent tons of sand to the new Two Rivers Community School for the school’s play area, which is now home to the memorial Sound Garden for the Rippys’ late son, Stuart. The Sound Garden was formerly located at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Commented one of Rippy’s award nominators: “He quietly keeps his head down, moving forward with the goal of making Colorado, the valley and, most of all, Glenwood Springs a better place to live, work, and play.”
COWGIRL AT HEART
Aside from Marian Smith’s more than 50 years of civic involvement and volunteer work, she and husband R.W. Smith might be best known for maintaining the last little bit of open space in the middle of Glenwood Springs between Grand Avenue and Blake Avenue, including the small horse pasture that sits just north of the Colorado Mountain College Blake Center.
Throughout her career, she has always approached any task she has taken on with “integrity and dignity,” said Martha Cochran, who presented this year’s Athena Award.
Smith was accompanied by several family members, including her four surviving children, and numerous past and present county officials.
“Besides raising us five kids (one son died many years ago), Mom worked cleaning cabins at Kenrose Motor Court, I think until they were sold and eventually torn down,” recalled one of Smith’s daughters, Marlyce Cunningham.
She also worked for the National Resources Conservation and Stabilization agency while serving on City Council and the county commission.
She still serves as a board member for the Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority.
Shared current Garfield County Commission Chair John Martin, who served with Smith on the county board for two years early in his own career, “She helped us make it through the hardest times, just after the collapse of oil shale.
“She knew the best way to pinch pennies,” Martin said. “Without her, it would have been much harder to survive and get through those hard times.”
Former Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Mildred Alsdorf noted that Smith would walk her precincts and talk to the people, not just at election time, but all throughout her time on the county board.
“The people supported her, because Marian truly believed in the things that she stood for,” Alsdorf said. “And when she would vote, she had researched things thoroughly, to make sure it’s what the people wanted.
In addition to her elected positions, Smith has also been active with the Glenwood Springs Library, worked closely with the county fair board and 4-H and has served on several different state commissions, boards and task forces.
Former county manager Chuck Deschenes also recalled Smith’s fondness for the heritage and agriculture of western Colorado.
“I sometimes traveled with her to various meetings, and she would point out items of interest, like the locations where Native Americans herded buffalo over cliffs to obtain much needed food,” he said. “She was very interested in the Native American and the pioneer times of the West.
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