Plumber says life’s first, job’s second
When John Korrie was learning plumbing from his father, he was advised to go into the service end rather than new construction.Otherwise, if the construction stops, “you’re going to be out of work,” Korrie says his dad told him.It turns out, the advice hasn’t counted for much for the Glenwood resident, who ended up moving to an area where construction continues unabated. But he’s still glad he chose against going into that end of the business.”They make way more money than I do, but they work probably six days a week,” he said. “My main goal is to ski here every day there’s a foot of (new) snow. … I’m here for where I live. My job is secondary to my life, really.”Skiing, mountain biking, hiking and raising his daughter are far more important to Korrie than his career choice. Yet clearly he takes his work seriously, which explains why he’s had some of the same customers for a quarter of a century.Some of those customers have been members of Glenwood’s Parkison family, who have appreciated his honesty and integrity as a plumber, and even more importantly his thoughtfulness toward his fellow human beings.”He likes to look out for older folks,” said Don Parkison, who remembers with amusement one example in particular.Parkison, now a retired Glenwood Springs High School teacher, was reading the names of students during the school’s 1999 graduation ceremony. Parkison’s daughter was among the graduates, and his mother, Ruth, was in the audience, sitting in a wheelchair. Korrie also was there.
Parkison said it began to rain hard, so Korrie grabbed Ruth’s chair and began pushing her as fast as he could to shelter.”She’s going, ‘Whee!,” and John is going 15 miles an hour across the football field with Mom in the chair … and she loved it. She was pumped; she knew he wasn’t going to wreck.”Korrie also enjoyed sparring politically with Parkison’s late father, Willis, Parkison said.Korrie dabbles occasionally in the political process. He served on the city’s River Commission and was a vocal opponent of Red Feather Ridge, a housing development that was rejected by Glenwood voters. More recently, he spoke out against the Roaring Fork Lodge proposal, saying that as currently envisioned it isn’t a good fit in a more residential part of town.”I tend to get myself in a lot of trouble expressing my opinion,” Korrie said.But he’s also had people thank him, as was the case after he wrote a letter saying it’s important for immigrants to learn English.Korrie’s own grandparents were immigrants. His mother’s parents were from Italy, and his father’s were from Lebanon.”I think that’s why I get the funny looks in airports,” Korrie said with a smile, referring to his dark, Middle-Eastern-looking features.
Korrie grew up in Whitesboro, in upstate New York. His dad began teaching him and his brother the plumbing trade when he was about 15. Meanwhile, he dreamed of seeing, and skiing, the West.He ended up coming out to Winter Park in 1976 to be a ski bum. He arrived in Colorado on the Fourth of July weekend of that bicentennial year and fell in love with the mountains.”I’d never been west of the Mississippi, and it was amazing just to see all that,” he said. Before Korrie found his way in 1980 to Glenwood, where he had a “distant, shirt-tail relative,” he traveled the country. He visited Mount St. Helen’s just before it blew that year.”I remember seeing it smoldering. It had been kind of doing its thing; they were keeping an eye on it,” Korrie said.Korrie started his business in 1982.”I would never sit there and say I loved what I do. Luckily plumbers get paid very well per hour. I can work a lot less and still be able to live in this valley and do the stuff I really love to do.”Korrie can’t recall ever hearing a complaint that he charged too much. He said he also has charged less for needy people.
“I certainly give all the free advice anybody wants over the phone,” he said.Parkison said Korrie is hardly money-hungry. Besides running errands and otherwise looking after some of his elderly customers, Korrie also takes an interest in Glenwood’s youth. He loves watching high school athletes play basketball and volleyball.”It’s just amazing to see them accomplish so much,” he said. “I’d take it over a pro game any time. Win or lose, they’re putting out tons and tons of effort.”Korrie, a single father, has a daughter who graduated from GSHS in 2006. The two would go watch high school games together. Korrie said he often would pass up work because it was so important for him to attend school events with his daughter.He would do the same for a powder day.”Work has never been the number one thing for me. It’s there to kind of make everything else possible,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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