2020 Pioneers of the Year

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Elaine Busse

photo by Lynn J. Shore
photo by Lynn J. Shore


Elaine Busse moved to Winding River Ranch in Grand Lake from Illinois in 1963 with her husband and three children–”a big step
of faith,” she says. Her parents followed a year later, helping with regular operations of the ranch.

But the Busses soon recognized the challenge of keeping a ranch profitable. They started a campground on part of the property and began operation as a guest ranch with the help of family and friends.

“Not only family helped but the people of Grand County were and still are great supporters,” Elaine says.
“The people of Grand County are strong and courageous and resilient. They have to be to make it all work, especially in the cold and snowy winters. The best decision we ever made was to come to Grand Lake.”

Since the death of her husband Robert, her children and grandson have taken over running the campground and ranch, which also serves as a wedding destination now. “Currently my passion is to help those who want to live healthy and happy. I have been a massage therapist and nutritional consultant for over 45 years. My client base is not only in the county but extends all over the world.”

“I believe in miracles and have seen hundreds,” she says. “I tell everyone, if you ‘Live Right, You will Die Right.’ I shall die healthy and strong. God does give us our dreams and our needs, not always our wants. He knows what’s best for you. He made you and you’re special. No one else is like you!”

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Fred Garrett

Fred Garrett
Fred Garrett

Fred Garrett of Granby came to Middle Park in 1957 as an oil well driller from Oklahoma with a background in farming. He met and married a local girl, Carolynn Pharo, stayed in Grand County, and helped to develop one of Grand County’s signature businesses.

Eventually, Fred went to work in his father-in-law’s auto body shop. Within a couple of years, he bought into the business and embarked on a 44-year career as an auto, truck, and implement dealer at what locals will remember as Middle Park Auto. The influence of his business extended into Jackson County and Fred estimates about half of his business was in Walden and North Park. Fred’s son, Mike Garrett, now runs the business in Granby as High-Country Motors.

Ford Motor Company was also in the farm implement business and that is where Middle Park Auto and Fred Garrett were historically positioned to have a significant impact in the area. Ranchers started to mechanize their haying operations in the 1960s and, though there was resistance to the “new ways,” Garrett used his background, knowledge, expertise, and salesmanship to help ranchers try to eventually embrace haying methods that involved tractors, balers, pick-up wagons, and more.

“The early days were tough,” Garrett notes, “because many of the new implements were not geared to the altitude and terrain of the high country.” But eventually, mechanization replaced horses, slides, and loose stacks of hay. “The haying season went from a three-month season to a three-week process.”

Carolynn and Fred raised seven children, many of whom are still living and working in Middle Park. Holly Zastrow and Shelly Zagone are both teachers. Mike Garrett is in the automobile business, Pat Garrett is in construction on the East Coast, Lori Tenny is a nurse, Becky Johnson is a teacher, and Bob Garrett is in the equipment rental business.

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Leigh Murphy

Leigh Murphy
Leigh Murphy

Leigh Murphy of Fraser has roots in Middle Park that reach back to the 1880s when his great grandparents traveled from Austria and homesteaded a ranch south of Granby. His parents purchased land in the Fraser Valley in 1934, land that is still owned and operated as a ranch by Leigh and his family.

Born in 1947, Leigh is a lifelong resident of Grand County. He and his wife Deane keep their primary residence at the ranch located on Grand County Road 5 in the Fraser Valley. They also own a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico and they split their time between the two cattle ranches.

The Murphys have found a good balance of ranching between the New Mexico and Colorado cattle operations as they ship their yearlings from New Mexico to Colorado. Their children, Sabrina and Andy, are assuming the reins and responsibility of the family operation. Sabrina and her husband Justin live at and operate the New Mexico operation, while Andy and his wife Paige are based at the Colorado ranch. Leigh and Deane help in both places and enjoy their three grandchildren.

Involvement with the Middle Park Fair has been a part of their lives for many years. Leigh remembers showing lambs and steers at the fair and, up until a few years ago, a favorite pastime had been team roping. Throughout his life, he has roped in several events and ridden bareback broncs and bulls.

Leigh was superintendent of the beef show for over 20 years and he served on the Fairboard as vice-president for two terms and as president for two terms. Deane was the leader of the Flying Heels 4-H Club and helped with the annual quarter horse sale when it was a part of the fair in the 1980s.

Leigh says that he has always enjoyed ranching and living in Middle Park. However, he notes that it is becoming increasingly difficult to ranch in the Fraser Valley as the number of people grows and development encroaches on land that was previously dedicated to agriculture.

Geneva Sherman

Geneva Sherman surrounded by her sons Rich, Marshall and Mike.
Geneva Sherman surrounded by her sons Rich, Marshall and Mike.

Geneva Sherman neé Rasmussen was born September 17, 1930, on the family farm and ranch in Brunswick, Nebraska. Her journey to Colorado began when she visited friends in Estes Park at the age of 17 and decided to stay. She worked in the Estes Park hospital, cleaning, taking care of patients, and cooking.

She met her future husband, Marshall (Whitey) Sherman in 1949 at a fall festival in Estes Park. They were married in 1950, and Whitey’s work for the Bureau of Reclamation caused them to move around frequently in the first year before finally settling in Longmont, where they lived for five years.

In 1965, Whitney’s work brought them to Green Mountain Dam, where they became involved in many aspects of Grand County and the Kremmling community. A true team, the Shermans helped lead 4-H Blue Valley Sharpshooters and Conservation Club, teaching marksmanship, plant identification, and land conservation. They attended and became involved in the Kremmling Community Church, where Geneva sang in duets and taught Sunday School classes.

In 1970, they moved onto Blue River Ranch and took over management. Managing the ranch created lots of extra work for Geneva. With Whitey working for what had now become the Department of Energy, she was left doing much of the ranch work, including working in the hay fields, feeding the cows in the winter with a team of Belgian horses, checking cows during calving, and hauling steers in the back of an old GMC pickup with stock racks.

The Shermans raised four children, Marshall, Lynn (Ruby), Michael, and Richard. Their family has continued to grow and now includes 12 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, most of whom continue to live in and contribute to the Kremmling community.

In 2002, Whitey passed away while they were living on the Penny Place near Gore Pass. Geneva moved into Kremmling where she continues to live in the middle of the town, her family, and the community that she loves.

Geneva is a quiet warrior who supported her husband in his work, raised a family, worked hard, has an abiding faith in God, and brings a smile, peace, and hope to every situation. She helped to form Middle Park into the community it is, with her hands for hard work, her love for the people in the community, and her unwavering heart for God.

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