MEEKER | Warm light poured out of the building in downtown Meeker as friends, family, work acquaintances and colleagues filtered into the Rio Blanco Abstract Office last Wednesday. Festive Christmas cheer was in the air and laughter echoed down the street celebrating a lifetime of honest hard work. Many have been acquainted with the Rio Blanco Abstract Office at some point in its 21-year existence under Dean and Jan Hubbell’s ownership. It’s a bittersweet closing and exciting new beginning for the new owners and retirement of Dean, Peggy Shults and Viney Bowman.
Hubbell began his career trying his hand as a real estate salesman and soon realized that wasn’t for him. Then he worked for a man who took him under his wing and taught him the title business for three years in Denver. He was no stranger to this line of work as his whole family has been in the same industry, although not working together, and he decided to start Commonwealth Title in Rifle, Colo., in 1980. After the bust of 1982, being a young married couple and barely scraping by, things started to look up in Rifle and the surrounding area and the opportunity to purchase the Rio Blanco Abstract office in Meeker from Ron Kent came up in 1997. Unsure if it was a good move, Hubbell fondly spoke about how his wife Jan gave him the gentle nudge to take the leap and it turned out to be a really good thing for the Hubbells and for the Meeker community.
The clock that stands in front of the Rifle Post Office came from a group Hubbell is involved with there. That sparked the idea to have our very own clock residing at the center of Meeker in the town square. Primarily funded by the Hubbells, it’s a beautiful tribute to Meeker’s past, present and future and a statement about what the Rio Blanco Abstract office has meant to the community.
A gatekeeper of sorts for the many property records in the county, when the clerk and recorder’s office couldn’t find certain things customers requested, the Abstract office would step up to help find the answers.
The business was and has always been about people, whether that meant buying cinnamon rolls for the county treasurer’s annual tax lien sale or buying supper every election for the clerk and recorder’s office and election judges. The Hubbells have humbly supported those with whom they interacted in ways that meant the most.
The Hubbells have also helped build the future through their support of many sports programs and scholarships offered to the high school seniors in our county. There was one year, Dean explained, when Peggy Shults—who normally selected two recipients each year—was having a hard time picking. They ultimately decided to award 14 scholarships that year.
The Hubbells hope to do something about the cold Colorado winters by having the ability to travel somewhere warmer if they so desire and are excited about the opportunity to spend more time with their children and grandchildren, though Dean says with some hesitation he’s not sure how he’s going to feel about retirement as “you identify with your work so much over the years.”
The other familiar face that will no longer be at the office with the change of ownership is Viney Bowman, a 28-year employee who started at the abstract office when Ron Kent asked if she would want to work for him. Her love of working with figures seemed like a good fit.
“We were kind of like a family, which I loved. Of course after 28 years you’re going to be,” Bowman said. When further discussing her relationship with her co-workers she said she and Shults are so much like family she was there when her first grandchild was born and there when her first great-grandchild was born. Their decades-long friendship will continue into retirement with their volunteering at HopeWest and participation together in the local quilters club and other various activities.
Peggy Shults, last but certainly not least, will also be retiring from the title business after 38-plus years, 21 of those with the Hubbells, who she described as “one in a million when it comes to bosses, very generous always and compensated you always.” Shults explained that she’s truly loved her career and she can’t imagine herself not working. Shults gives generously of her time and will find plenty of ways to stay busy.
The new owners, Erik Brown of Meeker and Patrick Burwell of Rifle, were in attendance at the party as well. They will be starting the next chapter with the Rio Blanco Abstract Office with the help of Betty Kracht to fill Shults’s and Bowman’s shoes. Dean will also be on hand to help with the transition.
“It’s been a wonderful experience to be a part of the Meeker community and have met some of the most wonderful people. It’s been a wonderful ride,” Hubbell said.
By EMMA VAUGHN | firstname.lastname@example.org