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Ranch a special place for couple

Kay Vasilakis
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” Peach Valley is a special place for Howard and Margo Stapleton. Howard enjoys pruning his fruit trees, irrigating and cutting grass, along with a few hundred other things that go along with owning a small farm. Including keeping the chickens safe from an abundant fox population.

The Stapletons have an assortment of 50 apricot, apple, cherry, pear, peach and plum trees.

“There is nothing like eating fruit right from the tree,” said Howard.



Howard and Margo Stapleton moved to Peach Valley from Snowmass Village in 1978.

“Margo saw the place for sale, and she’s the one that said, ‘We have to have that place,'” said Howard. “We moved 60 miles and 3,000 feet in elevation to Peach Valley. Ah, longer summers are great.”



Their Peach Valley property, with a house built in 1914 and its outbuildings, provides plenty of opportunities for maintenance and creative improvements, which keeps Howard happy.

“It’s always a work in progress,” said the gentleman farmer. “I love living out there. We had a bear in our yard last Saturday, and the Peach Valley elk herd practically camp out next to our fruit trees.”

Howard and Margo designed a cabin after they tore down an outbuilding they sometimes used as a guest house. They decided to build a really nice guest house, intended originally to be a bed and breakfast. It took Howard 10 years to build, all by hand.

It seems that when he had the time, he didn’t have the funds, and when he had the funds, he didn’t have the time. It is well-built and will last long after Stapleton’s gone.

The two-story, 1,000-square-foot cabin was built with 2,000 lineal feet of logs obtained at a sawmill north of Rifle in 1988. It has a spiral staircase and its own septic and water systems. It remains vacant, except for the times the couple takes their dinner guests to the cabin for an extra-special dessert, or when their son, Stuart, brings guests home.

Howard was born in Rutland, Vermont.

After graduating from high school in 1956, Howard joined the Air Force, and was stationed at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Mich., for three and a half years as an air traffic controller.

“When I went into the Air Force, I told them that I wanted to be a pilot. They said the closest they could get me was the control tower. I did enjoy working under pressure and still do.”

While in California, Howard had the opportunity to get an education using the GI Bill, and to fulfill his passion for flying. He had a private license, got a commercial rating, and he loved it.

But Margo feels safer now that he doesn’t fly anymore, and Howard would have to take physicals to qualify to fly.

Howard is also proud of his eight years of service as a Re-2 School Board Director.

“When I was asked if I wanted to be on the school board, Margo and I talked about it a lot. It would take a commitment along with a huge amount of time. I went for four years, then went for another four. I have no regrets. Working for the benefit of the kids with great administration and a great staff makes it so much easier and satisfying. I miss all the dedicated professionals I worked with.”

Margo is an adjunct English composition teacher for CMC, and likes to work with kids. She taught in the inner city in Los Angeles, and taught GED at the Rifle Honor Camp for 12 years.

She also wrangles Howard into running with her in local running events. He doesn’t train for them.

“The reason that I don’t train for the races is because I don’t like running. Margo says, ‘I entered you in the such-and-such race this weekend.’ And I say, ‘That’s great.'”

This summer, they ran in the 5K Titan Trot, the Mother’s Day Mile and the 5K Strawberry Shortcut. Next will be the Hogback Hustle and The Heart of the Valley.

Stuart graduated from Rifle High School in 2006, and is attending Elon University in North Carolina.

For Howard and Margo, one of the challenges about being empty nesters is re-familiarizing themselves after Stuart goes back to college. But getting used to having him home over the summer can take some getting used to, as well.

“We’re still parents, yet he’s practically an adult, so it’s challenging not to revert to the same roles we had when he was in high school,” said Margo.

At age 70, Howard hasn’t retired. He’s got a junior in college. And a wife who has a long list of big things for him to accomplish, one of which is to build a garage.


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