Vail Trail Issue Thursday, July 1, 2004
Hihgh Country Character – 7/1/04
Bob Gallegos loves his hometown, and he has fought hard to keep the charming mining town he grew up in reminiscent of the same town he knew as a child.
“That little town still has a special place in my heart,” Bob says with a smile.
Bob was born in Gilman and grew up in Minturn, or Min’urn as the locals say. He graduated from BMHS and worked as a meat-cutter at the local grocery for 10 years. His mother, Rosa Cordova, the family matriarch and a truly talented cook, according to sources, still lives in the house on Pine Street where Bob grew up.
He hasn’t moved too far away from his younger days when he used to catch dinner fly-fishing in the Eagle River; he still spends three nights during the average week at his mother’s home (his and his wife Betty, reside in Denver; he commutes back and forth to work). He also still owns the first house he ever bought, not surprisingly located in Minturn.
“I’ve had lots of offers for the house but it’s in a trust for my children, it’s staying in the family,” Bob says.
Bob’s roots grow as deep as they go. The surname is one of the most well-known around, not only in Minturn, but in surrounding areas as well. Bob’s grandfather was the mayor of Redcliff at one time and served as a union negotiator for the U.S. Steel Workers of America.
“All my grandparents and family that came in, came because of the mines. My father was a rancher in Southern Colorado and came here after some of his brothers did,” Bob says.
But things weren’t always pristine and perfect for the Gallegos family. Years ago, the town of Minturn was struggling with something prevalent in the rest of the country as well: the “S” word, segregation.
“As I grew up I began to see some things that just weren’t right,” Bob says. “The town was not mixed racially; it was very segregated. Yet we went to Battle Mountain and there was very little racism. We all got along really well. When you went into town though, it was very different. There weren’t any Hispanics in the fire department and they definitely were not on the town council.”
The actual Minturn city limits extended from the bridge that goes across at the Saloon to the bridge by the cemetery. But that happened to be where all of the white people lived.
“All the other parts were considered unincorporated Eagle County. That’s important because the town elected officials and made all the decisions and you couldn’t participate in local government if you were outside those town limits; you didn’t really have a say.”
Bob was instrumental in getting those lines expanded to include the rest of the town. Bob was the third Hispanic elected to the town council in the early ’70s.
Vail Associates at that time had bought all of the land around Minturn and had a plan to come in and develop, Bob says. “Well, we saw the need and thought unless we got out there and really fought it, all the external pressures and monies were going to come in and take over our town. And it was our town, we were born there, we grew up there; our friends and our families were there.”
Eventually the federal government released money and the forest service took over the land. VA agreed, in large part, because they needed the cash to start Beaver Creek. It was a win/win situation and after that success, Gallegos and others started getting involved politically at the county level. Bob got on the planning commission and remained for four years.
“We empowered people, Bob says. “And by being successful at the local level, people became empowered and were then able to work on larger issues.”
The Gallegos name is synonymous with the corporation that Bob’s brother, Gerald, and himself have built into a multimillion-dollar business from scratch over the past three decades. This year is the company’s 34th and the well over 500-employee corporation is based in Wolcott. The company has done work in most of the Western states including California, Texas, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
The Gallegos Corporation has built, stone-by-stone, many structures in the Valley, including nearly all the hotels in Beaver Creek (Park Hyatt, The Chateau, The Charter, Village Hall and The Inn at Beaver Creek were all Gallegos projects), those projects being what really took the corporation to the next level back in the ‘80s.
“Beaver Creek is really like our business card,” Bob says.
Bob joined the Gallegos Corporation in 1980, 10 years after his brother Gerald incorporated the company.
Today the company not only does masonry, but they also specialize in concrete work, stucco and plaster and have worked for many famous faces.
“We did Lucille Ball’s house back in the 60’s and more recently houses for Michael Douglas and Neil Diamond in Aspen, as well as a house for Mike Shanahan in Denver about four years ago,” Bob says. “We can do a multi-million dollar house or build you a sidewalk, that tells you the scope of what we do.”
Bob married his high school sweetheart nearly 40 years ago. He’s known her since the fourth grade. Bob and Betty have three daughters and a son, all who live in the Denver area. They also have one of the best marriages around, according to Randy Milhoan, a close friend of Bob’s for the past 35 years.
“Bob is one of my greatest friends. He is a really caring person with an extremely tight-knit family,” Milhoan says. “He’s very well respected by those that have lived here for awhile and has a great rapport with the people.”
Jim Cotter has also known Bob for years. “We’ve had years of fun and great times. I’m very proud of Bob, and the person he is – very active with political and business issues alike,” Cotter says.
This year the Gallegos Corporation contributed $10,000 to Minturn’s centennial celebration and it’s obvious that the charming town maintains a hold on many Gallegos hearts in the Valley.
“The town has to continue it’s vigilance because there will always be external or internal forces that will want to change that town and take it in a different direction and develop it, Bob says. “As long as the people want that kind of development and it’s quality, that’s ok. But people need to participate.” VT