Silt man is more than just a repairman
By Pete Fowler
SILT ” Don Charboneau usually drives a truck to work, fixing people’s appliances up and down the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys.
But over the 50 years he’s been doing it, he’s taken all kinds of modes of transportation on the job. He rode in a helicopter once to a home on the flat tops that was inaccessible by road. He’s toted his tools up a chairlift on Aspen Mountain to fix wayward appliances. A snow cat took him to fix appliances in Ashcroft.
Charboneau and his wife of 49 years, Annona, moved to Silt in 1977 when Sears transferred him from Oklahoma to the area. Silt had gravel streets then and the police would play cops and robbers with kids.
After the oil shale bust of 1982, Charboneau and Annona went into business for themselves, operating with the name Mountain Valley Appliance. Charboneau has been fixing appliances since before the microwave oven became commonplace. He started with Frigidaire in 1958.
“As a kid you know how you like to take things apart and put them back together?” he said. “I always liked to work on things.”
Charboneau talked about his work and life in the basement of his house in Silt Friday afternoon. The basement is his office with boxes of parts spread out and stacked up in various places.
Fixing appliances and meeting all kinds of people in all kinds of places gives the job a sense of variety.
“It varies every day. You never get tired of the same thing,” he said.
Charboneau has helped deliver calves a few times for ranchers who’d called him over to fix something but then wondered if he would mind helping them “pull a calf.” He’s fixed appliances for Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Dionne Warwick in Aspen.
“He didn’t have a clue who (Warwick) was,” Annona said.
Sometimes the job has surprises. He’s gone to homes before to fix appliances and asked people whose marriages were going south ” unbeknownst to him ” how they were doing, only to have them break down and cry.
“You have to be a psychologist, lawyer, doctor, plumber, electrician ” all of these things are helpful because you never know what you’re going to walk into,” Charboneau said.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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