Royal retirement for courthouse worker
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Dee Blackard’s had the nicknames “Red” and “Little Red” for nearly 10 years since she started working at the courthouse.
Blackard, a 68-year-old Glenwood resident, retired after her last day as a judicial assistant Friday. Her colleagues at the Garfield County Combined Courts Office in Glenwood Springs threw her a party and crowned her with a silver tiara to wish her good-bye.
With her eyes watering up, she said, “I told the girls when five o’clock comes I know I’m going to shed some tears because all the people there are so good. They’re a good, good group of people.”
Earning the nickname Red probably had something to do with her short, red hair and penchant for wearing red clothing. She said she started coloring her hair in high school “probably the first time that hair color came out” around 1958.
“Some call me Little Red because I’m so short,” Blackard said.
Blackard’s maiden name, Avila, comes from her Spanish father who migrated from Avila, Spain, and ended up in Veguita, New Mexico where Blackard was born. It’s a tiny town about 58 miles south of Albuquerque. She’s one of 11 children. Just two of her sisters remain in Albuquerque. Blackard still visits and makes a chile run to New Mexico every year.
She spoke Spanish with her parents growing up and learned English in school. She said her culture made for a strict upbringing by her parents.
“The only time you could date was when you were ready to get married,” she said. “I thought holding hands could get you pregnant.”
And it was getting married that her parents stressed over anything else. Blackard is divorced after two marriages of about 20 years each.
“I never really had a single life,” she said.
That led her to enjoy being single after the second divorce, about 10 years ago. She’d cut up the dance floors in Grand Junction with friends nearly every weekend.
Dancing was nothing new.
“In my culture, over in New Mexico, you dance from the day you’re born or able to walk,” she said.
When colleagues at the courthouse asked her how she always had so much energy, she’d tell them dancing keeps people young. She joked that she dances at home with her cat.
Blackard moved to the area in 1978 because her ex-husband had a brother in New Castle. She ended up getting a job at the court clerk’s office handling district civil cases. The cases were intriguing and provided plenty of good material for conversation ” things like disputes over millions of dollars between energy companies and property owners. She said it was interesting work and she fell in love with the job.
“I enjoyed my job,” she said. “I just wish I had started there 20 years earlier.”
Blackard said she decided she wanted to retire while she can still do things. She doesn’t have any strict agenda but plans to stay in Glenwood. She’ll probably spend time with family and get into reading. Her daughter may send her on a single’s cruise, and she plans an upcoming trip to Las Vegas with her sister, who’s a competitive pool player.
Clerk of the Combined Courts for Garfield County James Bradford said Blackard always had a smile for everybody and seemed to truly enjoy helping the customers.
“Dee is our friend who will be missed and always welcomed when she comes to visit,” Bradford said in an e-mail.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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