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RANGELY I A community champion is anyone—a public official, a community leader, a concerned citizen, a health or human service worker, a volunteer. This person works hard and well to start and/or support an initiative or intervention, to bring a program or idea to reality, or to otherwise improve the quality of life of a particular group or of the community as a whole. She might be a true community hero, an inspired visionary, or she might be the volunteer who’s always there and willing to do whatever has to be done to keep things going. In Peggy Rector’s 80 years, she was all of the above.
Peggy Lyle came to Rangely in 1962 to visit her sister Shirley McMullin, according to a 2012 HT interview; she had no intentions on staying. However, fate had led her to a town that suited her, so she returned to her birthplace of Muskogee, Oklahoma, and gathered her belongings to move to Rangely. In 1963, Peggy met Carl Rector and the two were married on Jan. 4, 1964. Later in 1964, son Jeff was born and a short time later Carl and Peggy adopted their daughter LeaAnne. They only left Rangely once, early on in their marriage, for Carl’s work in Alaska. They were gone for six months before returning to Rangely. Upon their return they purchased the Hydrotest company Carl was working for and two rigs from Julius Poole. Peggy worked for Al Earhart and the Bank of Rangely before working as a bookkeeper for her husband. In 1976 the Rectors started DUCO, which is now owned and operated by son Jeff.
It would be easier to list what Peggy wasn’t involved with in Rangely, Rio Blanco County and Northwest Colorado, but to do it like Peggy J. Rector would, we are going to do it the right way, not the easy way. Her interest and involvement in politics began at her Oklahoma high school when she was hired by Senator Shoemaker. Later in life, a design flaw in the Hydrotest building where the Rector family was working and living spurred Peggy’s initial political involvement in Rangely. The back room of the Hydrotest building had not been properly ventilated and Peggy and her two children were nearly hospitalized due to asphyxiation. After that she was compelled to join the planning commission and she served on it for two years before becoming a member of the town council. Her progressive mindset, involvement in the community, and her willingness to help the growth and stabilization of Rio Blanco County concreted a campaign win for county commissioner in 1986. In 1989, Peggy was serving as the board chairperson when she was involved in a traumatic car accident that nearly took her life. Peggy was forced to step down from public office in order to complete two years of intensive rehabilitation, including learning to read and write again.
Rector overcame her injuries and became even more involved in the community. She made her comeback by running the Rangely Times newspaper in 1994 and serving on the town council for two terms. She was elected Rangely mayor for two terms. Upon her election, she and a friend, John Stayer with the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC), formed a plan to improve Rangely. Peggy had a “punch list” which included getting a new pool and forming the recreation district, building the water treatment plant, the million dollar Stanolind Avenue and the golf course. She said “the key was getting people to work together.”
Rector was involved with Club 20 for more than 35 years, serving as the chairperson and on the executive board; was a member of AGNC; worked with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA); served on the Colorado River District; the Basin Round Table; the Colorado Highway Commission; the BLM Advisory Board; the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District during the development and construction of Kenney Reservoir; and also served as chairperson of the district. She was an organizer of Women’s Resource Center in Grand Junction for Northwest Colorado, served as a member of the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rangely Junior College District advisory board, and was a chairperson of the Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) Foundation board. She volunteered countless hours and means for the annual Septemberfest festivities, the annual Crab Crack event, the CNCC Foundation dinner and the rock crawling group in Rangely. She also helped establish the networking committee with a vision to eliminate duplication of services and joint use of equipment.
As one can imagine, Peggy was the deserving recipient of hundreds of awards, as her obituary (see page 5A) reads, “too many to list.” She was humble and modest about her accomplishments and often thanked the people around her rather than accepting the accolades herself.
She believed that in order to make changes and contribute positively to the community you have to be involved. She went above and beyond the call of a mere citizen. The absence of her leadership and tenacity will be felt for decades in Rangely and Northwest Colorado.
Former Rangely Mayor Paula Davis said, “I can’t even imagine what Rangely would be like if she hadn’t been the person she was. We should have a class, The Peg Rector’s way of Community Involvement. Over the years many have given a lot for Rangely but if this was a book she should get a chapter all about her. Rest in peace, Champion of Rangely!”
Longtime Rangely School District educator Pamela Brady referred to Rector as “a community icon.”
“Peggy Rector was instrumental in CNCC being what it is. She always had new ideas that would help us succeed,” said CNCC President Ron Granger.
Rangely business owner Rodger Polley wrote, “You didn’t have to be in a room very long with Peggy Rector to know that she was a woman who was going to get things done.”
Rangely Town Manager Lisa Piering stated, “Whatever title or office that we are privileged to hold, it is what we do that defines who we are…that will be the legacy that we pass on. Peggy will leave her family, community, county and state with a very proud and respectable legacy with her passing. She always held to her principles and beliefs. I admired her for that most.”
“Peg led by example. Everything I learned about community service I learned from Peg,” said Rangely Outdoor Museum Director Diana Sizemore. “She used to say, you have an opportunity here that you don’t in the big cities, take advantage of it. Carl and Peg were both huge community supporters. She is going to be missed in this community.”
By ROXIE FROMANG
Special to the Herald Times