Summit Old Timer: Robin and Patty Theobald
Breckenridge resident Robin Theobald’s family history goes so far back in Summit County, his great great grandfather was around to greet the Ute Indian chief Colorow when he came through the area. His great grandfather came to Breckenridge as a mining engineer. His grandmother was born in Breckenridge, as was his father. Today, Theobald tends some 30 grave sites in the Breckenridge cemetery. The “tenuous nexus” he calls it, tending grave sites of second cousins and even those who worked in the Denver Hotel back in the 1920s. He is not complaining. Theobald and his wife, Patty, know they have it pretty good from investments made generations ago, whether it be his mother buying grave plots for $25 (she bought 15 to 20 of them) or land in Blue River Estates going for $16 down and $16 a month.Theobald’s mom and dad – Lois and Robert “Bob” – were both attorneys and handled much of the water rights agreements from the headwaters of the Blue River all the way down valley to Green Mountain Reservoir in the 1950s and ’60s when there was a Front Range water grab for High Country water.His parents were also in the newspaper business having at one time owned and operated the Summit County Journal, the five day a week Herald Democrat and the weekly Carbonate Chronicle. But perhaps their most lucrative move was buying 1,200 acres of land in 1960 from the city of Colorado Springs, which eventually they turned into Blue River Estates.”My dad thought he would sell the land for fishing cabins,” said Robin, from his Breckenridge home Friday afternoon.The following year, Breckenridge Ski Resort was established, and the town went from bust back to boom.”Not everyone was happy about the ski area coming to town,” Robin said. “There was a mixed review by locals. A lot of them liked things the way they were. Others liked it for the boom.”It was a great place to live -heaven on earth in some ways, but other ways it was difficult. Only staples for groceries. Just not a lot of anything available.”Like a lot of people who came to Summit County, Patty was going to college in Greeley and took a summer off to live in Breckenridge, where she worked at the Gold Pan. She stayed until 1975, before going north to work in Alaska.The Theobalds met in the early ’70s and corresponded the whole time Patty was in Alaska. “I came from a military background and never sat still for more than two years anywhere,” she said. “Robin invited me down for Thanksgiving in ’79. I moved back that Christmas, and we married in April. Now, I have been here for 24 years.”Though Robin graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota majoring in English Literature, his real love was mining. In high school he worked at the Vulcan Mine on Bald Mountain and, after graduating college, he worked at a placer mine in Middle Barton Gulch.”It was law that anyone under 18 couldn’t work underground,” said Robin. “The day I turned 18, June 28, I went to work underground.”In addition to other mining ventures, the Theobalds started the first radio station in the area in 1975 – KLGT or K-Light – which today is KSMT. They had their only offspring, Robert “Rob” Foote Theobald, who now works as an engineer for the town of Breckenridge.Robin and Patty spend their time now managing properties and preserving historical buildings throughout the town of Breckenridge – The Barney Ford House Museum, the Hamlet’s bookstore building (where the radio station was located and the longtime office of Robin’s father), A Racer’s Edge Ski Rentals and two sheds behind it, the Little Photo Shop on Main Street and the Chinese Laundry building.Said Robin, “We are trying to restore and preserve some of the town’s original character, but also keep some green spots – or, at least, the portion of it which I have some control.”Said Patty, “We love it here. We’re going to stay right here and grow old.”
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