Parachute resident ready to turn triple digits this week
Since 1952, Leno Montover has been coming to Glenwood Springs to pay his car insurance at State Farm Insurance, first with agent Lee Morgan and now with Carl Ciani.
Little did Montover know there was a surprise waiting for him Monday, as he and grandson Ray Robinson of Grand Junction stopped by for Montover’s annual policy review.
Ciani and his staff were waiting with a cake to celebrate Montover’s upcoming milestone birthday. Ciani has been serving as Montover’s insurance agent since he purchased the business from Morgan back in 1995.
“When I first met him he would drive his wife Shirley in to pay the bill, and he would stay in the car in the parking lot,” Ciani said. “I always asked her, ‘Am I ever going to meet your husband?’.”
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Born Sept. 21, 1918, the 10th of 12 children, to Joseph and Alena Montover in old Snowmass, Montover now lives in Parachute, where he’ll celebrate on Friday.
A lifelong cattleman, all Montover knew growing up was the hard work of ranching.
His father, Joseph, who ranched and farmed all over the valley, leased property in and around Carbondale for many years before buying land in the high country at East Divide Creek south of Silt.
“We lived a hard life on the ranch,” Montover said. He remembers the day his dad finally had enough money to buy a tractor.
“We used to put everything up by horses,” Montover said. “We would run that thing ‘til dark. It didn’t have lights on it, you see.”
The first vehicle Montover ever purchased was a Chevrolet pickup truck in the late 1930s from J.V. Rose on Grand Avenue in Glenwood.
“That first one I bought, it was $700 brand new,” Montover said.
He met Glenwood Springs resident Shirley Baker, and in March of 1940 they ran off to Price, Utah, and got married.
The couple lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming, for four-and-a-half years before settling back on the ranch in Silt.
He and Shirley had two children, Joyce and Joe, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Leno and Shirley were married for 64 years until her death in 2004. After Shirley died, Leno retired from ranching, selling the land in 2007.
He attributes his long life to working hard, genetics and a great upbringing.
“His sister was 106 when she died last year. It’s crazy he’s almost 100,” grandson Robinson said.
Montover’s sister was Vera Diemoz, a longtime Carbondale resident who died last October, and who at the time held the honor as Garfield County’s oldest resident. A few others in the county have Montover beat on the age front, including Matty Baker of Rifle, who turned 103 earlier this summer.
Still living on his own, Montover isn’t showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.
“He still drives to this day,” Robinson, said. “He’s a really good driver.”
“He’s been a great client, not one accident,” Ciani said.
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